US Supreme Court

Legislature may clarify law referenced in CTS-Asheville Supreme Court case

Which should have been fixed a long time ago:

House Republicans pushed a bill through a judiciary committee Thursday to change a law barring any lawsuit brought more than 10 years after any alleged contamination occurred. The proposal, expected to receive floor debate and votes Friday, says the 10-year period shouldn't be interpreted as barring personal-injury cases involving certain groundwater contamination.

The change is in response to Monday's Supreme Court ruling that a group of Asheville homeowners cannot sue a nearby electroplating business they blamed for contaminating their land because the contamination ended in the 1980s — even though they didn't learn of the pollution until 2009. A similar situation exists at Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps base where the government says exposure to contaminated water ended in 1987.

I'll have more to say on this after the bill is passed and the DAG signs it. Don't want to put the kibosh on it.

Excerpts from Justice Ginsburg's dissent in CTS-Asheville case

Another big reason we need to take back the Legislature:

North Carolina’s law prescribing “periods . . . for the commencement of actions [for personal injury or damage to property],” N. C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§1–46, 1–52 (Lexis 2013), includes in the same paragraph, §1–52(16), both a discovery rule and an absolute period of repose. Section 1–52(16) states that personal injury and property damage claims:

“shall not accrue until bodily harm to the claimant or physical damage to his property becomes apparent or ought reasonably to have become apparent to the claimant . . . . Provided that no [claim] shall accrue more than 10 years from the last act or omission of the defendant giving rise to the [claim].”

The link above is to the entire decision, not just the dissent. But I can save you the time, since Justice Kennedy repeated his argument ad nauseum. In brief, it's a duel between the words "repose" and "limitation," neither of which are actually in our statute. Continuing:

Supremes let North Carolinians breathe easier

The Supreme Court (with the predictable exceptions of Crazy Clarence & Screwball Scalia [and Alito, who recused himself]) sided with the Obama administration, upholding the EPA's rules to prevent cross-state pollution; that is, air pollution (significantly from coal-fired power plants) generated in one state that blows downwind into another state.

The Supreme Court handed the Obama administration yet another major win for its environmental agenda on Tuesday, upholding an EPA rule aimed at preventing some states from polluting their downwind neighbors with harmful emissions from sources like coal-burning power plants.

The 6-2 decision overturns a lower court’s judgment that the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule overstepped the agency’s Clean Air Act authority. The rule’s opponents included utilities, industry groups and “upwind” states like Texas, Virginia and Ohio.

US Supreme Court to rule on Asheville water contamination suit

When bad state statutes rear their ugly heads:

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case today that could have major impacts on lawsuits against Camp Lejeune over contaminated drinking water. CTS Corporation v. Waldburger deals with North Carolina law and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

But CTS disagrees, because state law requires lawsuits involving real property to be brought within three years of discovering injury or 10 years of the defendant's last act. If the Supreme Court upholds the state's statues, it would make lawsuits filed against Camp Lejeune for contaminated drinking water from the 1950's to 1985 invalid.

As you may recall, the CTS contamination of local wells was detailed in this letter we published a few years ago. It often takes years for trichloroethylene to migrate in the groundwater just a few thousand feet, but it's still all kinds of nasty when it arrives in your drinking glass. This (NC) statute should have been done away with a long time ago, but I don't see NC Republicans doing that particular job anytime soon.

Disabled still face execution in N.C.

Disabled still face execution in N.C.
March 11, 2014 By Kristin Collins


Thomas Larry (pictured above) has mental retardation, but remains on death row because of one IQ score.

DOMA is dead!

Some good news at last....

DNA Ruling Hurts Us All

The recent supreme court ruling over DNA was decided with ignorance. The justices do not understand the implications of DNA because science does not understand it yet. Kennedy said, "Taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee's DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment." This could not be further from the truth. Fingerprints and photos are extremely limited in potential uses, whereas DNA can be altered, mistaken, stolen and used maliciously, the examples are only limited by our understanding. I do realize how important it is to get the criminals off the street, however, we have to maintain our privacy in order to sustain the beautiful fabric of the American way of life.

Courts could end up deciding this year's Presidential election

What I most dread about this election is the possibility of another election like the Gore-Bush fiasco of 2000. With so many complaints already filed in many states by both major parties, I think the possibility is real. The NY Times has an excellent article on the various court cases pending now:

The November presidential election, widely expected to rest on a final blitz of advertising and furious campaigning, may also hinge nearly as much on last-minute legal battles over when and how ballots should be cast and counted, particularly if the race remains tight in battleground states.

Supremes to issue ruling on "Obamacare" today...

...probably.

I am wondering if they will actually issue a ruling this time. I have been expecting this for over a week. However, a good article that explains several possible ramifications for people like me who really, really need national healthcare, came out a few days ago at TPM:

Most of the speculation and reporting about the Court’s options has centered on the mandate: Will the Court uphold it? Will it strike the mandate alone? Or will it strike the mandate, along with tightly linked measures that end discrimination against people with pre-existing medical conditions, and guarantee them access to affordable insurance.

Boomerang: Republican Russell Robinson destroys Amendment One

Russell Robinson III, a prominent lawyer and conservative in Charlotte writes against Amendment One in yesterday's Charlotte Observer.

The proposed amendment is so poorly worded and so unnecessary that its adoption would actually increase the probability of a federal court invalidating its ban on same-sex marriage. This is exactly the opposite of the result intended by the amendment’s proposers.

He lays out even more unintended consequences of Amendment One -- for the opponents of gay marriage. Because of the vague language used in the NC Amendment, he writes:

That language in the recent California case describes the proposed amendment to our North Carolina constitution so well that it strongly invites the filing of a federal court action in North Carolina to invalidate our similar constitutional amendment as well. In fact, it might make North Carolina the best state in which to bring such an action.

Emphasis mine in both quotes.

And he writes correctly. Some lawyer will become very famous getting this Amendment overturned in federal court should it pass on May 8.

h/t Watauga Watch

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