Obama’s ‘Clean Plants’ Order Headed For Fast Supreme Court Decision

Litigation over President Obama’s climate-change order, “Clean Plants,” is headed for an emergency decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The plan requires a 32 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and is being opposed by 25 states, mostly Republican-led with Texas and West Virginia leading the way. But California and and about a dozen other states, mostly Democratic, are supporting the move by the EPA.
David G. Savage, writing in the Los Angeles Times, explains that the GOP-led side of the lawsuit is seeking an emergency decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to halt implementation of the new rule pending their legal battle. A District of Columbia court recently refused to do so, leading to the emergency appeal to the higher court.
Savage said that Chief Justice Roberts has asked for a response by Feb. 4 from the president’s lawyers and will likely refer the matter to the full court. While there’s no deadline, he added, the justices usually act in a few weeks on such emergency orders.

State Seeks Millions In Valley Methane Gas Leak

The Courthouse News is reporting that state officials on Tuesday “sued SoCalGas for $440,000 per day in fines for its negligent response to the massive methane gas leak that has displaced thousands of people in the San Fernando Valley.” The massive gas leak has forced thousands of people out of their homes and the gas company has offered temporary relocation to many, but not all, affected families. The leak has been going since last October and it remains unclear when it might end. At that rate of fines, the gas company would already owe more than $40 million.
The CN explains that “the new lawsuit follows an independent panel’s approval on Saturday of the air district’s request for a stipulated order of abatement. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency this month and the state Senate introduced a bill calling for an immediate moratorium on any new injections of natural gas and use of aging wells at the facility.”

Seeking Safety, Young Migrants Find Abuse At Hands Of U.S. Placement

Photo Credit, AP report, 1/25/16

Photo Credit: AP report, 1/25/16

The Associated Press is releasing a Los Angeles-based investigative report that pretty much indicts the entire U.S. government effort to deal with those unaccompanied kids seeking a sanctuary in the United States. The tale of epic fail begins “… as tens of thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America crossed the border in search of safe harbor, overwhelmed U.S. officials weakened child protection policies, placing some young migrants in homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved, or forced to work for little or no pay, an Associated Press investigation has found.”

Responding to public pressure, the U.S. simply cut some corners. The AP notes that “… first, the government stopped fingerprinting most adults seeking to claim the children. In April 2014, the agency stopped requiring original copies of birth certificates to prove most sponsors’ identities. The next month, it decided not to complete forms that request sponsors’ personal and identifying information before sending many of the children to sponsors’ homes. Then, it eliminated FBI criminal history checks for many sponsors.”

The AP found dozens of children who were placed in abusive situations and reports that “Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who chairs the Senate’s bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said he will hold a hearing on the agency’s child placement program Thursday because he is concerned that the failures are systemic.”

Read the AP story here: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/e87200e7361b412fa8c1d5003b7bf357/ap-investigation-feds-failures-imperil-migrant-children

Charter Schools Group Sues L.A. School Dist. For $224M

A leading California charter schools group is suing the Los Angeles School District for $224 million in bond money it claims was earmarked for charters but diverted. The L.A. based Courthouse News Service reports that the California Charter Schools Association claims in a Jan. 11 lawsuit that “… the LAUSD violated Proposition 39, the Smaller Classes, Safer Schools and Financial Accountability Act. The 2000 proposition amended the state constitution to reduce the voter threshold needed to approve school bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent.”

The CNS offers background: “Almost 20 percent of LAUSD school students attend independent charter schools, and in the past 10 school years enrollment in charter schools has increased by 400 percent, the association says. In that time, L.A. public schools decreased by 150,000, according to the complaint. The association says charter schools and students desperately need public funds to stay open and maintain their facilities. In 2008, California voters approved a $7 billion bond measure that included $450 million earmarked for charter schools.

Read the CNS coverage here:

Civil Gideon Gains Another Voice In Connecticut

Photo Credit: Connecticut Law Tribune report, 1/15/16

Photo Credit: Connecticut Law Tribune report, 1/15/16

Writing in the Connecticut Law Tribune, the president of the Connecticut Bar Foundation is adding his voice to the calls for a “civil Gideon” program for the poor. James T. Shearin first reviews the massive funding cuts to state and federal programs aimed at helping the disadvantaged then notes that “… there is also an important discussion underway about the viability of adopting Civil Gideon legislation, an effort to provide state-funded counsel to clients who meet the federal poverty level. Chief Justice Chase Rogers commented in her address to the CBA in June 2015. The civil Gideon movement, named after the case that guaranteed legal representation in criminal cases, is already being tested in San Francisco and other cities.

In that address, Justice Rogers said: “I believe strongly that it is time for Connecticut to accelerate serious and comprehensive discussions regarding representation for people who cannot afford certain types of cases. I say this in full recognition of the financial limitations that exist in contemplating ‘Civil Gideon,’ but also in the hope that a dialogue—with the bar as an active participant—will lead to further enhancement of access to justice.”

Shearin writes that “… urging consideration for Civil Gideon, she [Rogers] joins CBA President William Clendenen, who in 2014 wrote a two-part article titled “A Civil Right to Counsel—The Time Has Come for Connecticut to Provide Access to Justice for Connecticut’s Economically Disadvantaged.” Clendenen noted that the 2012 World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index ranked the United States near the bottom of the list in providing access to justice in comparison to similarly developed countries. While probably years away from passage, Civil Gideon legislation is the best, long-term solution to addressing the critical need of ensuring that the rule of law is available to all.”

Read more: http://www.ctlawtribune.com/id=1202747261949/James-T-Shearin-State-Faces-Continued-Crisis-in-Legal-Aid-Funding#ixzz3xtZWh9zT

Supreme Court Will Hear Immigration Case Affecting Millions

Photo Credit: 1/19/16 CNN Politics video coverage

Photo Credit: 1/19/16 CNN Politics video coverage

Sweeping immigration reform implemented by President Obama’s executive order, which was frozen by federal courts, will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court announced this week that it will hear the case that would impact tens of millions of people. CNN notes that “the Supreme Court — which already has a docket bursting with consequential issues — will likely rule on the case by early summer. If the Court greenlights the programs that are considered a centerpiaece of the President’s second term, they will go into effect before he leaves office.”

The CNN report offers background: “At issue is the implementation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) aimed at the approximately 4.3 million undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, as well as an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) targeting teenagers and young adults who were born outside of the U.S. but raised in the country. The President’s actions allow eligible participants to obtain temporary lawful presence and apply for work authorization as well as some associated benefits.”

See the report here: Obama immigration reform: SCOTUS to hear actions – CNNPolitics.com

A Personal Post From The Publisher:

Photo from: Giving Children Hope 12/29/15 Blog Post

Photo from: Giving Children Hope 12/29/15 Blog Post

Back in December, CCM Publisher Sara Warner joined Buena Park School District, Children Giving Hope & Brentwood Home to deliver Brentwood Mattress to families in need. This is her post about that visit:

The weekend before Christmas, a group of 50 volunteers loaded Premier Chevrolet trucks with Brentwood Home mattresses to deliver to some very deserving families in Buena Park, California. Hundreds of families were surveyed to find out if there were family members in need of a warm bed to sleep on. With the assistance of Brentwood Home and volunteers, the event was able to provide a joyful Christmas surprise to 70 families!

According to Vy Wynn, CEO of Brentwood Home, ” Christmas is all about caring for those in need and the less fortunate. I’m glad that we decided to partner up with the school district & Giving Children Hope.” Even though the parents had been notified of the gift they would be receiving, most of the mothers shed tears of delight when the team arrived with a memory foam Brentwood Home mattress and bedding.

It was humbling to see many of the living situations these families were in: multiple children in sharing one bed and parents on couches or the floor. Even in light of these tough ciircumstances, there was so much light in every room we entered. One single mother of four mother stated, “Receiving this bed is a blessing from God. I don’t sleep well as it is, but I know this will make such an impact, not only on my sleep, but my attitude throughout the day as well.” (Children Giving Hope http://www.givingchildrenhope.org/beds-for-christmas/)

It was such a honor to join Buena Park, Children Giving Hope & Brentwood Home in a event that gave back to a community. We are very passionate about issues involving education at the California Courts Monitor and it was nice knowing these mattresses would ensure that some children would get a better night’s sleep for the challenging school day ahead.

We made a donation to Children Giving Hope as we were so touched how they are changing the lives of so many school children.. I hope you join us by visiting www.givingchildrenhope.org and making a generous contribution today.

Related videos::

Sara Warner CCM Publisher at Buena Park Mattress Giveaway Event-video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5vDSKksPXQ (spanish interview)

http://www.givingchildrenhope.org/beds-for-christmas/ (link to their blog)

Maine Hotel Case Illustrates Civil Justice Rationing

It seems a routine case: A town planning board approves a new Hampton Hotel but a resident thinks it was done improperly and failed to properly address questions like how tall the buildings would be. But, as with many such “civil referee” cases around the country, this one illustrates the rising problem of civil justice rationing. That’s because the community, Kittery on the coast of Maine, has not heard civil lawsuits for months because the caseload has been consumed by criminal cases.
Brian Early, writing in the Fosters.com newspaper site, quotes Kittery Town Attorney Duncan McEachern saying that York County is “about a judge-and-a-half short, so the priority is processing criminal cases and this is civil.” The report adds that “… a clerk at the York County Superior Court in Alfred said Friday the court has not heard civil cases since June [2015], and the next opening to hear civil cases will be during the first week in March. What cases will be heard will not be decided until next month. If the case is not heard in March, it is not clear when it will be.”
Read about the rationing here.

U.S. Supreme Court Considers Huge Shift In Union Dues Collection

Photo: From Newsweek report, 1/18/16

Photo: From Newsweek report, 1/8/16

A 2013 California civil lawsuit is up for U.S. Supreme Court review this week and could dramatically change the organized labor landscape for public employees. The core issue in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is whether unions can collect fees from people who do not want to be in the union. The Los Angeles Daily News explains that “… since 1977, the court has allowed public-sector unions to charge the nonmembers whom they represent fees to cover the cost of bargaining over working conditions that will benefit those nonmembers as well as the union’s own ranks on the payroll… they cannot charge a fee to cover union political activity, such as lobbying or campaign spending…”

The case against the Teachers Association argues, in effect, that everything a union does is political – even bargaining. Everyone agrees that the controlling legal precedent is a case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which actually moved the case through the lower courts relatively quickly. The Daily News notes that justices have signaled a sea change: “Although the Abood ruling remains a controlling decision, the court has been dropping hints for the past two years that the precedent has become shaky. A majority of the Justices joined in the critique, most strongly expressed in 2014 in Harris v. Quinn. The court said then that it is a ‘bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.’

Thus, the challengers are turning their case into a ‘compelled speech’ dispute, treating union assessments as forcing nonmembers to embrace union goals.”
Read the Daily News story and follow the lawsuit here:

What the Supreme Court must decide about union dues

California Leads Way On Allowing ‘Organic’ Label Lawsuits

More states are expected to allow mislabeling lawsuits involving products labeled “organic” in the wake of a California Supreme Court decision. The Golden State’s unanimous ruling, explains the Associated Press, “… overturned a lower court decision that barred such suits on the grounds that they were superseded by federal law.”

The report in Salon.com offered some background: Congress wanted only state and federal officials to police organic food violations in order to create a national standard for organic foods, a division of the 2nd District Court of Appeal decided in 2013. But the state Supreme Court said allowing consumer lawsuits would further congressional goals of curtailing fraud and ensuring consumers can rely on organic labels. Experts cited in the report say other states will be expected to follow.