SCOTUS Hears Michigan Affirmative Action Case; We Summarize Six Cases before SCOTUS
- Earlier this week, The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, which challenges Michigan’s 2006 constitutional amendment that bans the use of affirmative action in admissions and hiring.
- Michigan Solicitor General John Bursch urged the Court to uphold the constitutional amendment. Bursch acknowledged that diversity in education is valuable but argued that Michigan’s amendment, which requires equal treatment for all, does not violate the constitution.
- The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action argued that the Court would need to overturn previous decisions in order to uphold the constitutional provision.
- A transcript of the argument is available here.
- There are more than a dozen cases set for the 2013 SCOTUS term that will affect State AGs. We have summarized six, including Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, on our blog.
Awkward: Phone Scammer Calls Rhode Island Assistant Attorney General
- A phone scammer called Rhode Island Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Jim Lee posing as a state law enforcement officer.
- When the AAG answered the phone, the caller immediately began yelling that the AAG had missed jury duty and that he would be arrested unless he made a deal.
- The AAG spread the word about the scam, telling a local news station that an officer cannot issue a warrant for missing jury duty, and that if a warrant for arrest is issued, the police will just show up, not call ahead.
Oregon, Washington, and Alaska Partner for Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign
- Washington AG Bob Ferguson has partnered with the Better Business Bureau of Alaska, Oregon, and Western Washington to promote cybersecurity awareness through the campaign “STOP.THINK.CONNECT.”
- The campaign was launched in October to coincide with National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
- The campaign advises Internet users to take precautions, including protecting personal information and being vigilant when sharing information.
Connecticut Attorney General Petitions SCOTUS to Review Labor Case
- Connecticut AG George Jepsen and former Connecticut Governor John Rowland separately petitioned SCOTUS to overturn the Second Circuit’s holding that the layoffs Rowland ordered a decade ago were intended to punish union members.
- The state argues that the Second Circuit’s decision impairs the government by subjecting public officials to a review of motives in layoffs, which the state argues is the government’s best leverage when state or local governments seek concessions.
- The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education will also submit an amicus brief urging the court to review the decision, stating that the decision could impact other state government entities like school boards or city governments.
- An attorney for the 13 state employee unions that brought the case argues that reviewing a government official’s motivation in issuing layoffs ensures that employee layoffs achieve specific economic ends rather than being used as leverage in employment negotiations.
- The Second Circuit decision in State Employees Bargaining Agent v. Rowland, 494 F.3d 71 (2007), is available here.
SCOTUS to Hear Texas Challenge to EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules
- The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear a case brought by Texas AG Greg Abbott challenging the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) rules intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and refineries.
- Eleven other states join Texas’ challenge, and AG Abbott has testified before Congress on the issue.
- Texas argues that the EPA does not have authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and that by promulgating rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA has exceeded its authority and threatens Texas jobs.
Missouri Attorney General Asks EPA to Test Landfill Despite Shutdown
- Missouri AG Chris Koster has asked the EPA to conduct radioactivity testing at a Missouri landfill. The letter is available here.
- The testing, which had been delayed as a result of the federal government shutdown, must be completed before the state may construct an isolation barrier at the Westlake Landfill.
Florida Attorney General Backs Mississippi Flood Insurance Rate Suit
- Florida AG Pam Bondi announced that she will file an amicus brief supporting the Mississippi Insurance Commissioner in his suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to try to stop flood insurance rate increases.
- The rate increases are a result of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act which phases out many nationally subsidized flood insurance policies in order to make the National Flood Insurance Program financially sound.
- As we noted last week, Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley sent a letter to Congress urging them to delay the rate hikes warning that “[p]remature implementation of the Act threatens the housing recovery that Massachusetts and the nation are just starting to experience.”
Texas Attorney General Resolves Medicaid Fraud Allegations for $10 Million
- Texas AG Greg Abbott announced that his Medicaid Fraud unit has recovered $10 million from Fougera Pharmaceuticals resolving allegations of Medicaid Fraud.
- Texas will share the $22.75 million settlement with the federal government to reimburse state and federal Medicaid expenses.
- AG Abbott alleged that Fougera fraudulently inflated the Average Wholesale Price of its drugs, causing Medicaid programs to overpay for those drugs.
- The Medicaid Fraud Division has recovered $470 million for the state since 2002.
MORTGAGES AND FORECLOSURES
Massachusetts Attorney General Sues Foreclosure Relief Organization
- Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley has sued several businesses that advertised themselves as “non-profit foreclosure prevention” organizations, alleging that the businesses solicited illegal advance fees from distressed homeowners and operated as for-profit businesses. The complaint also alleges that defendants engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
- A judge issued a preliminary injunction preventing the businesses from soliciting or advertising foreclosure services.
- In 2007, the AG’s Office issued foreclosure regulations that prohibit soliciting or collecting fees for foreclosure services without disclosing what services they offer to avoid foreclosure.