Alt v. EPA: Score one for the good guys

Charter, exceeded.

This case is a few months old, but its outcome just came to my attention.  It’s a case brought by a West Virginia farmer, 61-year-old grandmother Lois Alt, against the EPA, which in 2011 was threatening her with thousands in daily fines for the substances rainwater might encounter in running off across her land.

Alt and her husband, Tony, run a chicken farm in Old Fields, West Virginia.  Their farm is subject to EPA regulations for “concentrated animal feeding operations” (CAFOs), which under the Clean Water Act must take measures against the contamination of local waterways with “process wastewater,” Continue reading “Alt v. EPA: Score one for the good guys”

Courts on same-sex marriage: Adieu, rule of law

A government of men, not of laws.

Adam Smith famously said there’s a lot of ruin in a nation.  America today is testing just how much there may be.  How long can a center hold, in our expectations and daily interactions, when the protections of our scheme of law are being dismantled before our eyes?

Robert Barnes, writing at the Washington Post, had a good summary yesterday of how Justice Antonin Scalia’s prediction about the majority opinion in U.S. v. Windsor, the DOMA case ruled on in June 2013, is coming true.  The Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of state laws that recognize only traditional marriage.  It ruled only on the question of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.  And the majority opinion claimed, somewhat coyly, not to settle the same-sex marriage (SSM) issue by ruling on DOMA, but only to reject DOMA.

That coyness aside, Continue reading “Courts on same-sex marriage: Adieu, rule of law”

Implications of the new “Tax-Mandate”

This is what matters.

So, this is how I understand the Supreme Court decision on ObamaCare.  Congress wrote an individual mandate – to purchase approved health insurance – into the law.  President Obama spoke with great certainty of the provision being a mandate, and not a tax.  Congress didn’t write the mandate in words that would make it a tax.  The description of the provision doesn’t fit that of a tax.  The provision is that you are required to buy something from a commercial vendor – i.e., not send revenue to the government, which is the exact definition of what a tax does – and that you are required to do so if you fit a certain income or employment profile; if you don’t fit the profile, you aren’t required to make the purchase; but if you do fit the profile and fail to make the purchase, you will be fined.

The Supreme Court decided that that’s a tax. Continue reading “Implications of the new “Tax-Mandate””

California and the Ridiculous State of Law in America

Environmental inadequacy.

There’s reason to rejoice that a California state judge issued an injunction on Friday against the state cap-and-trade scheme (C&T) proposed in 2006.  For one thing, the case’s citation name is Association of Irritated Residents v. California Air Resources Board, and how often does that come along?  Irritated v. CARB would make an awesome name for a rock band.

The judge, Ernest Goldsmith, allowed the other elements of the 2006 law (AB 32) to proceed as planned, so small businesses and truck drivers and others who will be drastically affected by its emission-curbing requirements have no prospect of relief.  The important business of driving business out of California will proceed apace.

Of equal interest, however, is the basis for the judge’s decision to suspend the C&T plan. Continue reading “California and the Ridiculous State of Law in America”