Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra

admin Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today we filed another amicus brief in support of Americans for Prosperity’s challenge to the California Attorney General’s demand for its confidential donor information as a condition of raising money in the state. This brief urged the Ninth Circuit to grant rehearing en banc to reverse an earlier panel decision. The brief was filed for Citizens United, Citizens United Foundation, Free Speech Coalition, and Free Speech Defense and Education Fund. Read More

American Legion v. American Humanist Association (Bladensburg Cross)

admin Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to block a Fourth Circuit decision which found that the Bladensburg (Maryland) War Memorial, which includes a 40-foot cross, violates the Establishment Clause.  The Fourth Circuit opinion discusses the relief being sought by a few Maryland residents to be either razing the Cross, or defacing it by cutting off its arms, and making it into an Egyptian obelisk. Read More

IFS v. Becerra

admin Constitutional Law, Nonprofit Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today, we filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit supporting a challenge against the California Attorney General’s demands for the large donor lists (IRS Form 990 Schedule B) of charitable organizations who wish to register to solicit donations in that state. We argued that the AG’s requirement creates a condition precedent that violates the right to peacably assemble. We also explained that the new rule does not only risk public dissemination of donor information, as has already happened in California, but also the risk that politicized Attorney Generals in New York and California — Kamala Harris, Xavier Becerra, and Eric Schneiderman — would misuse the information. We also raised the distinct possibility that the AG is committing the federal crime of solicitation of taxpayer information because it is conditioning the ability to raise funds in California on the “voluntary” provision of the confidential donor lists. Finally, we argued that 9th Circuit precedent in similar cases improperly relied on election law cases, requiring that IFS’ case be heard en banc.

Link to brief

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra

admin Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed an amicus brief in the United Sates Supreme Court on the merits to help protect the Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) of California from a California law which mandates that the CPCs provide information about the availability of abortions.  We had earlier filed an amicus brief in support of NIFLA’s petition for certiorari.

Our brief was filed on behalf of Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, Free Speech Coalition, Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, One Nation Under God Foundation, Pass the Salt Ministries, Eberle Associates, Downsize DC Foundation, DownsizeDC.org, Restoring Liberty Action Committee, and The Transforming Word Ministries. Read More

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado against an order of a Colorado Administrative agency which would compel a Christian baker to facilitate and participate in the celebration of a same-sex wedding.

Link to brief

Price v. Chicago

Jeremiah Morgan Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

Today we filed an amicus brief in the Seventh Circuit in a case challenging the City of Chicago’s buffer zone ordinance, which was designed to prevent pro-life sidewalk counselors from speaking to pregnant women at the last opportunity before they enter an abortion clinic. Our brief argued that the case should be decided as any other First Amendment case — and the First Amendment rules should not be bent because this case involves an abortion clinic. We discuss how the courts have allowed a separate abortion rights jurisprudence to have precedence over legal principles of general applicability. We also explain that the Chicago ordinance violates the often ignored First Amendment “right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

Link to brief

Trump v. IRAP

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed in the U.S. Supreme Court an amicus brief supporting President Trump’s challenge to the Fourth Circuit decision which approved a Maryland judge’s injunction against his Executive Order.  Our brief supports both President Trump’s application to stay this injunction, and supports his petition for certiorari.  The brief addressed three broad points.

First, we explain how the rationale underlying the district and circuit court decision undermines the President’s inherent and statutory authority to control immigration into the United States.  We ask the Court to consider whether this rationale could also be applied to enjoin Presidentially ordered military operations against Islamic nations. Read More

Hawaii v. Trump

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today, our firm filed its fourth brief in support of President Trump’s effort to impose immigration controls.  This brief supported President Trump’s second Executive Order issued on March 6, 2017 — to secure our borders against entry by those coming from select countries where their background cannot be checked.

Our first two briefs were filed in the Washington State challenge, in the Ninth Circuit — one on February 6, 2017 and one on February 16, 2017, with respect to the first Trump Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017.  Our third brief was filed in the Fourth Circuit in litigation brought by IRAP on March 31, 2017. Read More

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, we filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in support of a petition to protect the Crisis Pregnancy Centers in California.  The California Reproductive FACT Act requires these pro-life centers to disseminate to those who seek its services, information explaining the easy availability of taxpayer subsidized abortion.  Our brief explains that this state law violates the Declaration of Independence’s recognition of protected “unalienable rights,” violates the law of our Creator, violates the Constitution’s Free Speech protections, and violates the Free Exercise Clause.  Lastly, we explain that the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding this law has no limiting principle, and therefore could next be used to ban entirely Crisis Pregnancy Centers across the state. Read More

Patriotic Veterans v. Curtis Hill, Attorney General of Indiana

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Nonprofit Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we co-counseled the filing of a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Patriotic Veterans, a nonprofit organization based in Illinois.  This Petition brings to the High Court a First Amendment challenge to an Indiana law barring most nonprofit organizations from using automated dialing equipment to conduct issue advocacy and grassroots lobbying.  Our Petition explains that the First Amendment, as reaffirmed by a long line of Supreme Court decisions, vests in each homeowner the right to decide whether to receive a visitor at a door, and that same principle applies to receiving a message delivered by telephone.  State legislators are often annoyed when constituents learn what bills are pending, and what is going on behind closed doors in the legislature.  They are particularly annoyed when constituents besiege them with messages telling them how they want them to vote.  However, state legislators have no right to enact laws to shut down issue advocacy and grassroots lobbying, intruding themselves between nonprofit organizations like Patriotic Veterans and the people of Indiana. Read More

Welch v. Brown

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, we filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of a petition for writ of certiorari, asking the Court to review a California ban on mental health providers pro-hetrosexual therapies to minors.  Interestingly, the California law, SB 1172, does not ban pro-homosexual therapies.  We reject the notion that the Free Exercise Clause was written to give special rights to religious people.  We explain that SB 1172 violates the Free Exercise Clause, which operates as a jurisdictional barrier to the power of States, barring California’s encroachment upon matters of opinion outside its civil jurisdiction.  We also demonstrated that the State’s inherent police power does not permit it to conditioning licensing in order to suppress politically correct and morally unpopular medical treatments under the guise of protecting minors. Read More

Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Xavier Becerra

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Nonprofit Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today we filed a brief for the Free Speech Coalition and a large number of nonprofit orgainzations opposing efforts by the Attorney General of California to compel the disclosure by nonprofit organizations soliciting funds in that state of the names of their largest donors.

The issue in the case involves conditioning the ability to fundraise in California on disclosing confidential information to a politician — in this case, a state Attorney General.  Our brief explains why the First Amendment’s Anonymity principle applies, and why all such laws are unconstitutional licensing schemes.  We also explain why the federal tax scheme governing the filing of IRS Form 990 Schedule B’s protects the identity of donors, and that state officials can only obtain this information upon making a specific showing of illegal activity.  Therefore, this requirement, imposed by the Attorney General of California, is an unconstitutional prophylactic rule unrelated to any showing of fraud. Read More

Citizens United v. Schneiderman

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Nonprofit Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

Today we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit opposing efforts by the Attorney General of New York from implementing new procedures requiring every nonprofit organization which solicits funds in that state to provide him with the names, addresses, and donation amounts of the organization’s largest donors.  Although the Attorney General of New York insists that the information would be kept by him and not shared with the public, the First Amendment protects Americans from divulging their anonymous political activities to politicians — especially highly political politicians like state attorney generals — who know how to use their discretionary power to chill the political activities of wealthy individuals. Read More

Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Election Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeal filed by the Independent Institute challenging the disclosure requirements imposed by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (“BCRA”) as applied to genuine issue ads.  BCRA compels the disclosure of donors to such ads over $1,000, with substantial civil and criminal penalties for failure to report this information publicly. Read More

Article: “‘PC’ Politics Drove ABA’s Proposed Rules Change — A push for new classes of “harassment” in professional ethics reflects hubris and elitism”

Michael Harless Publications

We were grateful that the National Law Journal published the fourth article in the U.S. Justice Foundation’s series on the proposed ABA Ethics Changes.  This Op Ed was the lead in the National Law Journals email to subscribers sent out on August 8, 2016.

We reproduce here a couple of paragraphs from our article:

“The American Bar Association is on the verge of making ­sweeping changes in its Model Rules of Professional Conduct, rules in no way designed to regulate professional ethics, but rather to compel lawyers to embrace social justice to make them ‘better people’…. Read More

Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission

Michael Harless Election Law, U. S. District Court, District of Columbia

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in support of The Independence Institute, in its challenge to certain federal election law and Federal Election Commission regulations governing electioneering communications.  Under these regulations, Section 501(c)(3) organizations must report on their broadcast issue ads which mention the name of incumbent Congressmen.  The required reports include certain information on donors to the nonprofit organizations.  Our brief explains why these laws and regulations violate First Amendment principles of anonymity long recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court. Read More

Stormans, Inc. v. Wiesman

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

With our brief in Stormans, our firm has now made its 100th filing in the U.S. Supreme Court. Today we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending a Christian-owned pharmacy from attack by the Washington State Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission due to that pharmacy’s refusal to stock and sell abortifacient drugs.

Although the Pharmacy Commission is a government agency, its steps were largely directed by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.
Our brief explained why the Pharmacy Commission had no basis for its rule narrowly designed to prevent pharmacies from acting on their moral and religious objections to stocking and dispensing certain types of pharmaceuticals.  Additionally, our brief demonstrated the real-world consequences of government taking sides in each political debate, so as to render unlawful any resistance to the agenda of a Secular Humanist state. Read More