Iowa AG has joined 36 legal actions challenging Trump policies

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller signed on to three dozen multi-state actions challenging Trump administration policies last year, covering a wide range of immigration, environmental, civil rights, consumer protection and labor issues. Miller also joined fellow attorneys general in nine amicus curiae briefs related to state-level or local policies on reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, gun control, voting rights, and gerrymandering.

Although federal lawsuits aren’t the main focus of Miller’s work, Iowans can be proud our attorney general repeatedly stood for fundamental rights and core progressive values.

The fourteen divisions of the Iowa Attorney General’s office primarily handle legal matters within our state. But I wondered how often Miller had lent support to federal lawsuits stemming from executive branch actions since President Donald Trump took office. The country’s longest-serving state attorney general will run for a tenth term this November. In 2010, both Miller’s opponent and an outside group ran television commercials attacking his stance on the Affordable Care Act.

It’s not yet clear whether the GOP will spend heavily on behalf of their 2018 candidate for this office; to my knowledge, no one has declared plans to run. The Republican Attorney General’s Association paid for a message-testing poll about Miller last summer. (Several respondents told me they received the call.)

In response to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiry, communications director Geoff Greenwood provided a list of multi-state lawsuits or amicus briefs that Miller joined during 2017, along with excerpts stating the key legal points. The cases fall into the following categories.

TRAVEL BAN

Trump’s series of executive orders restricting travel to the U.S. by residents of certain countries prompted more interventions by state attorneys general than any other new administration policy. Miller signed on to fourteen “friend of the court” briefs supporting challenges to various versions of the travel ban. In chronological order:

• February 7, 2017

Eighteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Washington’s lawsuit against the travel ban. (Washington v. Trump)

Excerpt from brief (link):

‘Although the amici States’ residents, institutions, industries, and economies differ in various ways, we now all stand together in facing concrete, immediate and irreparable harms from the Executive Order.

• February 8, 2017

Seventeen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the Eastern District of Virginia. (Aziz v. Trump)

Excerpt from brief (link):

Without judicial action staying the implementation of the Executive Order across the country, our States will see a return of the chaos experienced in our airports beginning on the weekend of January 28 and 29, and continued serious harms to the individuals who live, work, and study in our States; the institutions that employ and educate such persons; and the families they are part of and the communities in which they reside.

• February 16, 2017

Sixteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the Eastern District of New York. (Darweesh v. Trump)

Excerpt from brief (link):

The barred individuals include, among others, persons who have previously been granted valid U.S. visas that otherwise entitle them to work, study, and travel within the amid States. In addition to harming such individuals, the Executive Order also inhibits the free exchange of information, ideas, and talent between the seven designated countries and the amici States.

• March 13, 2017

Fourteen attorneys general file an amicus brief in the District of Hawaii. (Hawaii v. Trump)

Excerpt from brief (link):

Although the revised Order is narrower in some respects than the initial Order, it retains the two essential pillars of that Order: a sweeping ban on entry to the United States by nationals of several predominantly Muslim countries and a complete suspension of the refugee program. If allowed to go into effect, the revised Order will immediately harm the amici States’ proprietary, quasi-sovereign, and sovereign interests.

• March 31, 2017

Seventeen attorneys general filed a brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, urging the court to reject the administration’s request to reinstate the travel ban while it appealed the District Court for Maryland’s decision. (IRAP v Trump)

Excerpt from brief (link):

Letting the travel ban take effect would irreparably harm the Amici States. It would block entry by students, teachers, workers, and tourists from the six majority-Muslim countries. It would harm our citizens, lawful permanent residents, and resident visa holders, many of whom have family members and loved ones who would be presumptively denied entry. And it would amplify the message of fear and intimidation communicated to our Muslim communities by a President who has fulfilled his promise to single out Muslims for disfavored treatment.

• Apri1 19, 2017

Seventeen attorneys general filed a brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the court to uphold a District Court of Maryland ruling that struck down Trump’s second travel ban. (IRAP v Trump)

Excerpt from brief (link):

The Amici States urge the Court to affirm the preliminary injunction because (1) the district court correctly determined that Plaintiffs are likely to succeed in showing that § 2(c) has the purpose of excluding Muslims and therefore violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment; (2) the balance of hardship tilts decidedly in Plaintiffs’ favor because Defendants failed to adduce any evidence that they would be harmed by temporarily preserving the status quo that existed before EO-2; and (3) the public interest-including the interests of the States and their residents-strongly favors enjoining an unconstitutional executive order that fulfills the President’s campaign promise to prevent Muslims from entering the country.

• June 12, 2017

Seventeen attorneys general filed two amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court. (Trump v IRAP)

Excerpt from first brief, opposing the administration’s petition of certiorari (link):

If allowed to go into effect, EO-2’s travel ban will immediately harm the amici States’ proprietary, quasi-sovereign, and sovereign interests…

Excerpt from second brief, opposing the administration’s request to allow the travel ban to go into effect pending appeal (link):

The applicants’ interests do not outweigh the injury to the States and our residents that would result from permitting the travel ban to take effect. At no time in either the IRAP or Hawaii litigation have the applicants offered any evidence to rebut the joint declaration of numerous national security experts who explained why enjoining the travel and refugee bans pending a final decision on the merits “would not jeopardize national security.”

• July 10, 2017

Sixteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the federal District Court of Hawaii in support of Hawaii’s pending motion for injunctive relief. (Hawaii v Trump)

Excerpt from brief (link):

Amici have a strong interest in plaintiffs’ challenge to this Executive Order because many of its provisions have threatened—indeed, have already caused—substantial harm to our residents, communities, hospitals, universities, and businesses while courts continue to adjudicate the Order’s lawfulness

• July 18, 2017

Sixteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the administration’s stay application, following Hawaii District Court ruling that the travel ban cannot be applied to close relatives. (Trump v Hawaii)

Excerpt from brief (link):

The federal government’s cramped view of what counts as a ‘close familial relationship’ is also contradicted by both common experience and decades of social science research.

• August 3, 2017

Sixteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. (Hawaii v. Trump)

Excerpt from brief (link):

Amici have a strong interest in plaintiffs’ challenge to this Executive Order because many of its provisions have threatened—indeed, have already caused—substantial harm to our residents, communities, hospitals, universities, and businesses while courts continue to adjudicate the Order’s lawfulness.

• September 19, 2017

Eighteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the travel ban. (Trump v. IRAP and Trump v. Hawaii)

Excerpt from brief (link):

Amici have a strong interest in respondents’ challenges to the Order, and to its travel ban in particular, which has already caused — and absent the continuation of the injunctions, will continue to cause — substantial harm to our universities, hospitals, businesses, communities, and residents.

• November 16, 2017

Sixteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals opposing Travel Ban 3.0. (IRAP v. Trump)

Excerpt from brief (link):

Like its predecessors, the Proclamation’s entry ban gravely and irreparably harms our universities, hospitals, businesses, communities, and residents. Keeping the preliminary injunction in place will continue to provide critical protection to the state interests the ban endangers.

• November 28, 2017

Sixteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Travel Ban 3.0. (Trump v. Hawaii)

Excerpt from brief (link):

All of amici States benefit from immigration, tourism, and international travel by students, academics, skilled professionals, and businesspeople. The disputed provisions of the Proclamation — like the previous bans — significantly disrupt the ability of our States’ public universities to recruit and retrain students and faculty, impairing academic staffing and research, and causing the loss of tuition and tax revenues, among other costs. The Proclamation also disrupts the provision of medical care at our hospitals and harms our science, technology, finance, and tourism industries by inhibiting the free exchange of information, ideas, and talent between the designated countries and our States, causing long-term economic and reputational damage. In addition, the ban has made it more difficult for us to effectuate our own constitutional and statutory polices of religious tolerance and nondiscrimination.

OTHER IMMIGRATION-RELATED CASES

In July, Miller was among 20 attorneys general who signed a letter urging Trump

to maintain and defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which represents a success story for the more than three- quarters of a million “Dreamers” who are currently registered for it. It has also been a boon to the communities, universities, and employers with which these Dreamers are connected, and for the American economy as a whole.

The following month, Miller and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra held a press call “to highlight the lawfulness of DACA on its fifth anniversary.” On September 6, the day after the Trump administration announced plans to end the program in six months, Miller was among sixteen attorneys general who filed suit in the Eastern District of New York. (New York et al v Trump)

Excerpt from court filing (link):

Rescinding DACA will cause harm to hundreds of thousands of the States’ residents, injure State-run colleges and universities, upset the States’ workplaces, damage the States’ economies, hurt State-based companies, and disrupt the States’ statutory and regulatory interests.

From an Iowa Attorney General’s office press release:

“DACA has protected hundreds of thousands of young people, including nearly 2,800 here in Iowa, who arrived illegally as children, grew up following the rules, and are very much a part of our fabric,” Miller said. “Our lawsuit alleges the Trump administration’s action to dismantle DACA violates peoples’ due process, denies them equal protection under our constitution, and causes ‘immediate harm’ to those whom DACA is intended to protect.”

On October 17, Miller was among ten attorneys general who sued the Department of Homeland Security for failing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about changes to federal immigration policies. (Massachusetts et al v DHS)

Excerpt from court filing (link):

Defendants have violated FOIA by failing to respond to Plaintiff States’ request within the statutorily prescribed time limit, failing to disclose the requested documents, and unlawfully withholding the requested information. Plaintiff States now ask the Court to order Defendants to respond to the request and to disclose all responsive records improperly withheld from Plaintiff States.

ENVIRONMENT

Miller joined signed on to eight lawsuits or briefs related to Environmental Protection Agency actions (or inaction) during 2017. In chronological order:

• January 23, 2017

Seven attorneys general and eight states intervened in a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals case to preserve federal program limiting emissions from medium and heavy-duty vehicles. (Truck Trailer Manufacturers Assoc. v. EPA)

Excerpt from the motion to intervene (link):

The Phase 2 Standards are an important component of broader efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector which, nationally, is the second largest contributor to those emissions.

• April 5, 2017

Eighteen attorneys general filed with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in opposition to the administration’s request to delay court proceedings regarding the Clean Power Plan. (West Virginia v EPA)

Excerpt from the motion (link):

EPA fails to justify its unprecedented request for an open-ended abeyance at this late stage of litigation: more than six months after the en banc Court heard a full day of oral argument. This case is ripe for decision now, and nothing that EPA has proposed to do obviates the need for this Court’s review.

• June 20, 2017

Fourteen attorneys general sought to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s stay of a 2016 rule regulating emissions. (Clean Air Council v. Pruitt)

Excerpt from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s press release (link; the full motion to intervene is here):

The motion to intervene in the case — Clean Air Council v. Pruitt — is in support of a group of environmental organizations seeking to immediately stop the EPA’s unlawful stay of a climate rule, finalized in 2016, that would prevent emissions of thousands of tons of the potent greenhouse gas methane, smog-forming volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants, including benzene and formaldehyde from facilities built after September 2015.

• June 29, 2017

Fifteen attorneys general threatened to sue EPA the for failing to control methane emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Excerpt from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s press release (link; the full notice of intent to sue is here):o

The coalition argues that the EPA’s failure to act since September 2015 to issue controls on methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and gas industry violates the Agency’s non-discretionary duty under the Clean Air Act and is an “unreasonable delay” in setting such controls.

• July 24, 2017

Eleven attorneys general sued the EPA for illegally delaying implementation of the Chemical Accident Safety Rule. (New York et al v Pruitt)

Excerpt from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s press release (link; the full court filing is here):

The coalition of Attorneys General is challenging EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s recent delay of the rule by an additional 20 months as exceeding EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act, and as arbitrary and capricious.

• August 1, 2017

Sixteen attorneys general sued the EPA over a one-year delay in smog designation under the Clean Air Act. (New York et al v Pruitt)

Excerpt from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s press release (link; the full court filing is here):

The coalition of Attorneys General is challenging EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s one-year delay in designating areas with unhealthy levels of smog as violating the requirements of the Clean Air Act, and as arbitrary and capricious.

• September 20, 2017

Seven attorneys general sued the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration for delaying implementation of the Greenhouse Gas Performance Measure. (California et al v U.S. Department of Transportation)

Excerpt from the court filing (link):

Plaintiffs collectively have significant proprietary and sovereign interests in protecting their populations and their environments from the effects of catastrophic climate change, including increased numbers and severity of heat waves, greater air pollution, more frequent and intense storms and associated flooding, reduced snowpack and water supplies, increased wildfires, and sea level rise.

• October 5, 2017

Fourteen attorneys general announced plans to sue the EPA for failing to meet the Clean Air Act deadline on smog designation.

Excerpt from the notice of intent to sue (link):

As of today, EPA has failed to promulgate nationwide designations for the 2015 ozone NAAQS. The agency’s failure to issue the designations constitutes a violation of a nondiscretionary duty under 42 U.S.C. § 7407(d)(I)(B) to promulgate timely nonattainment designations for the 2015 ozone NAAQS, subjecting the agency to suit under Section 304(a)(2) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7604(a)(2).

Fifteen attorneys general signed on to that lawsuit, which was filed on December 5. (link to full court filing)

CONSUMER PROTECTION

Consumer protection has been a focus of Miller’s work in Iowa for decades. Last year he joined several efforts to advocate for consumers at the federal level.

• January 23, 2017

Seventeen attorneys general filed a motion with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (PHH Corporation v. CFPB)

Excerpt from Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen’s press release (link; the full motion to intervene is here):

The attorneys general argue that they have a vital interest in defending an independent and effective CFPB. They have used their authority to bring civil actions in coordination with the CFPB to protect consumers against unfair, deceptive and abusive financial practices. They argue that the court’s ruling, if permitted to stand, would undermine the power of state attorneys general to effectively protect consumers against abuse in the consumer finance industry, and significantly lessen the ability of the CFPB to withstand political pressure and act effectively and independently of the President.

• June 14, 2017

Nine attorneys general filed with the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to undermine Borrower Defense Regulations Elections. (California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools v DeVos)

Excerpt from New York Attorney General Schneiderman’s press release (link; the full motion to intervene is here):

The challenged regulations provide critical protections for federal student loan borrowers against misconduct by abusive schools and colleges, including for-profit companies, and assist in the enforcement of state consumer protection laws.

• July 6, 2017

Nineteen attorneys general filed suit in U.S. District Court, charging that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos unlawfully delayed the Borrower Defense Rule. (Massachusetts et al v DeVos)

Excerpt from New York Attorney General Schneiderman’s press release (link; the full court filing is here):

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges that the Department of Education violated federal law by abruptly rescinding its Borrower Defense Rule, which was designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans.

• October 17, 2017

Eighteen attorneys general sued the Department of Education in U.S. District Court for refusing to enforce the Gainful Employment Rule. (Maryland et al v U.S. DOE) Background on that rule:

First, it empowers prospective students to make informed decisions by requiring schools to provide information about the program’s average debt load, the loan repayment rate of all students who enroll in the program, the percentage of students who graduate from the program, the number of graduates who obtain employment in a field related to the program, and the average earnings of graduates. Second, the Gainful Employment Rule assesses whether schools’ programs provide education and training to their students that lead to earnings that will allow students to pay back their student loan debts. If the programs fail the objective metrics, federal student loans and grants would no longer be provided to those programs.

Excerpt from court filing (link):

The Department’s actions violate the APA [Administrative Procedure Act] in the following respects: (1) the Department delayed, modified, amended, and/or repealed the Rule without observance of procedure required by law; (2) the Department’s delay, modification, amendment, and/or repeal of the Rule is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law…[and] in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right; and (3) the Department unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed actions required by the Rule.

• December 8, 2017

Eighteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals supporting a challenge to Trump appointing White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (English v Trump, Mulvaney)

Excerpt from the brief (link):

As enforcement partners with the CFPB, the Amici States have an interest in preserving the independence of the CFPB from short-term political pressures so that it can use its resources and expertise to pursue the long-term public interest. The CFPB’s independence is crucial to the effectiveness of the Amici States’ enforcement efforts, as the CFPB and the Amici States make decisions about cooperating in parallel investigations, sharing information and documents collected, coordinating enforcement actions, and negotiating joint settlements. Attempts to dismantle Congress’s careful and concerted efforts in structuring the CFPB as a truly independent agency would, if successful, harm the Amici States’ ability to enforce the many consumer financial laws that protect their residents.

• December 13, 2017

Seventeen attorneys general asked the Federal Communications Commission to delay its rulemaking on net neutrality, “following growing evidence of a criminal effort to corrupt the FCC’s recent net neutrality comment process through large volumes of falsified public comments submitted to the agency—perhaps as many as one to two million.”

After the FCC proceeded with the rulemaking the following day, New York Attorney General Schneiderman announced plans to sue to stop the “illegal rollback of net neutrality.” I sought comment from Miller after seeing Iowa listed among the eighteen states that will participate. Communications director Greenwood told me on December 30, “The FCC’s rule change hasn’t been published, so the New York AG has not yet filed a lawsuit. AG Miller has stated it’s likely he will join a multistate challenge.”

LGBTQ EQUALITY

Miller declined to have his office represent the state in the Varnum v Brien case challenging Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act. Last year, he joined efforts to challenge Trump’s ill-advised ban on military service by transgender people.

• October 16, 2017

Fifteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court supporting a plaintiff who challenged the transgender military ban. (Jane Doe v. Trump)

Excerpt from the court filing (link):

The military has already concluded that allowing transgender individuals to serve openly is in the nation’s best interest. Reinstating the ban simply cannot be justified by reference to costs, unit cohesion, or overall readiness. Rather, the Administration seeks to ban otherwise qualified people from service simply because of who they are. In doing so, the Administration would harm both the Amici States and our residents in profound ways.

• October 27, 2017

The same attorneys general filed a virtually identical amicus brief (link) with the District Court of Maryland. (Stone v. Trump)

HEALTH CARE REFORM

Miller joined three actions opposing GOP efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

• May 18, 2017

Sixteen attorneys general intervened in a lawsuit U.S. House Republicans had filed to block ACA subsidies. (House v Price)

Excerpt from New York Attorney General Schneiderman’s press release (link; the full motion to intervene is here):

The States’ motion argues that the District Court’s ruling, if it stays in place, will result in direct financial loss to some of the States, harm consumers, increase the number of uninsured, create additional uncertainty in the health insurance markets, and cause difficulty for State rate approval processes.

• October 13, 2017

Nineteen attorneys general filed suit over the Trump administration’s decision to withhold ACA subsidies. (California et al v Trump)

Excerpt from the court filing (link):

The Secretaries’ refusal to disburse cost-sharing reduction reimbursement payments unless Congress provides a further appropriation will require regulators either to review two premium proposals or Exchange applications—one assuming cost-sharing reductions will be reimbursed and one not—or to establish processes for modifying premiums or changing participation after the review and selection process has begun. In either scenario, the States will be forced to spend more money to carry out these administrative burdens.

• November 28, 2017

Nineteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania supporting Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s lawsuit challenging the administration’s rollback of the mandate for employer-provided insurance to cover contraception. (Pennsylvania v Trump)

Excerpt from the brief (link):

There is no statutory authority for the new exemptions created by the Rules. The ACA itself does not authorize any such exemptions. In the absence of such authorization, Defendants are prohibited from ignoring the ACA’s mandate to provide cost-free contraceptive coverage unless some other statutory provision unambiguously requires such an exemption. The principal statute that Defendants cite, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., provides no support for the sweeping religious and moral exemptions.

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

On October 24, fourteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief arguing that the federal government’s effort to prevent an undocumented minor from having an abortion is unconstitutional. (Garza v. Hargan)

Excerpt from the brief (link):

First, the United States cannot impose a federal agency-consent requirement that does not exist under state law without infringing upon the sovereignty of those States that have decided to trust the independent judgment of minors who wish to exercise their constitutional right to obtain an abortion. […]

Second, the government’s policy of withholding its consent to all requests for abortions, except in instances of sexual abuse and medical necessity, constitutes an undue burden on the constitutional rights of unaccompanied immigrant minors, including the movant.

LABOR

On August 16, seventeen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the National Labor Relations Board and several employees who alleged violations of their rights. (Epic Systems Corp. v Lewis, NLRB v Murphy Oil USA, and Ernst & Young v Morris)

Excerpt from Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s press release (link; the full brief is here):

The states argue that their residents have long held a “fundamental right” under the National Labor Relations Act to engage “in concerted activities” for their “mutual aid or protection.” […]

The states also contend that the right of employees to join together to bring legal claims is necessary to vindicate workers’ rights under other vital workplace statutes, including minimum-wage and overtime laws as well as anti-discrimination provisions. […]

The states conclude that employer-imposed bans on collective legal action allow many employers to insulate themselves from liability for their legal violations, and they urge the Supreme Court not to “sanction employers’ efforts to ‘free themselves to violate wage and hour laws, to discriminate, to impose unsafe working conditions, and to otherwise violate federal and state labor and employment laws with impunity.’”

OTHER MULTI-STATE ACTIONS NOT RELATED TO TRUMP POLICIES

Miller joined his counterparts on nine “friend of the court” briefs related to local or state-level policies.

LGBTQ equality

• March 3, 2017

Nineteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of transgender student Gavin Grimm. (Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.)

Excerpt from brief (link):

The amici States’ shared experience demonstrates that protecting transgender people from discrimination benefits all members of the public. And contrary to the petitioner’s claims, our shared experience demonstrates that protecting the civil rights of transgender people—including by allowing them access to common restrooms consistent with their gender identity—creates no public safety or personal privacy threat and imposes no meaningful financial burden.

• May 16, 2017

Eighteen attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Title IX protection for transgender people, including student Gavin Grimm. (G. G. v. Gloucester County School Board)

Excerpt from brief (link):

The present matter is a case in point: defendant’s policy was adopted to stigmatize G.G. and other transgender students, rather than to promote legitimate state interests, such as promoting public safety or personal privacy.

• October 12, 2017

In an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, eighteen attorneys general argued that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital)

Excerpt from brief (link):

The Title VII regime reaffirmed by the decision below thus hinders enforcement against discrimination that no one disputes is part of Title VII’s broad scope. And it does so in a particularly damaging way: by restricting the practical ability of an already vulnerable class of employees—those who are (or are thought to be) gay, lesbian, and bisexual—to bring claims for gender stereotyping. The result is to deny those employees the full protection from such stereotyping that this Court long ago recognized Title VII provides.

• October 30, 2017

In one of the most closely-watched cases from the U.S. Supreme Court’s current term, twenty attorneys general filed a brief against letting private businesses refuse service to a certain class of customers based on a business owner’s religious views. (Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission)

Excerpt from brief (link):

This Court should reject Petitioners’ invitation to return to a time when the availability of public accommodations could turn on a particular business owner’s discriminatory views. And it should reject Petitioners’ invitation to cripple the States’ ability to enact and enforce public accommodations laws to advance the States’ compelling interests. States must be permitted to preserve their residents’ social and economic well-being and protect everyone within their borders from the manifest harms of discrimination.

Reproductive rights

In April, sixteen AGs filed an amicus brief opposing Ohio’s law to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. (Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Hodges)

Excerpt from New York Attorney General Schneiderman’s press release (link; the full brief is here):

The Attorneys General argue that the Ohio law violates the First Amendment and Due Process Clause because the law imposes an unconstitutional condition on state grants that infringes on plaintiffs’ right to free speech, as well as plaintiffs’ right to provide access to abortion services, and their clients’ right to receive such services.

Sales tax on online purchases

In November, 35 attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of allowing states to collect sales tax on online purchases. (South Dakota v. Wayfair) Depending on the outcome, this case could lead to changes in Iowa law, as legislators from both parties support increasing revenues by applying the sales tax to online purchases.

Excerpt from the brief (link):

This Court should grant review to abrogate the unprincipled physical-presence rule of Quill, making clear that the Commerce Clause is no bar to the States’ sovereign authority to collect lawfully imposed sales and use taxes directly from remote retailers.

Gun control

In October, thirteen attorneys general asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals court to uphold California’s ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines for guns. (Duncan v. Becerra)

Excerpt from the brief (link):

Both common sense and empirical evidence suggest that prohibiting LCMs will reduce the number of crimes in which LCMs are used and reduce the lethality and devastation of gun crime when it does occur. At the same time, there is no proof that LCMs are necessary—or even commonly used—for self-defense.

Gerrymandering

Miller was one of eighteen attorneys general who filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in September, opposing Wisconsin’s extreme partisan gerrymandering. (Gill v. Whitford)

Excerpt from brief (link):

Intentional partisan entrenchment—that is, deliberately drawing districts for the sole purpose of keeping one party in power for the long term, and without any neutral justification for the result—has no place in our political system. It discourages voter participation, increases distrust of government, and reduces the responsiveness of elected representatives. Technological advances have made it easier than ever for mapmakers to draw district lines solely to maximize the political power of a particular party.

Voting rights

Thirteen attorneys general filed a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief in September, arguing that Ohio’s process of deregistering voters is inconsistent with the National Voter Registration Act. (Husted v. Philip Randolph Institute)

Excerpt from brief (link):

Amici States submit this brief to explain, on the basis of their experience, that States have a broad array of other, better tools to identify voters who have changed residence. In light of these other available options, reliance on voter inactivity during only a two-year period to target registrants for potential removal poses unacceptable risks of disenfranchising eligible voters and thus undermines rather than enhances the accuracy of voter registration rolls.

  • Thanks for all this information

    I appreciate this detailed perspective. I am not happy about a few legal cases that Iowa has pursued with other states, such as trying to protect the legal right of factory farms to sell hens-stuffed-into-cages eggs in California whether California has a law against that or not. So I needed and appreciate this reminder that Iowa is also involved in many cases that are very commendable.

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