[JURIST] Leading Monday's states brief, the United States Supreme Court today ordered a federal appeals court to reconsider whether the state of Missouri can charge the disabled $2 for portable disabled parking placards. The placards allow disabled persons to park in reserved spaces. A class action lawsuit alleged that the fee violated federal law banning discrimination because it places a financial burden on those seeking disabled parking spaces. The Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed the case, finding in part that the $2 had a minimal impact on interstate commerce and was not under the authority of Congress to regulate. The Supreme Court instructed the Court of Appeals to reconsider in light of its ruling last week in Gonzales v. Raich [PDF text] and its 2004 decision Tennessee v. Lane [PDF text]. The fee generates approximately $400,000 in annual revenue for the state. AP has more.
In other state legal news ...
- Legislation passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush [official website], will freeze about 75 percent of the state's approximately 6,000 pending asbestos cases. The legislation [text] sets new rules concerning the level of proof that must be provided by those claiming asbestos made them ill. Supporters of the legislation claim that it will help reduced the number of frivolous cases filed and unclogg the court dockets, while opponents claim it will deny victims compensation as many victims will be unable to meet the new proof standards. The legislation becomes effective July 1. The Palm Beach Post has local coverage.
- The United States Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. California [PDF text], handed down today, will require trial judges in California to ask lawyers to explain their reasons for excluding a potential juror whenever there is a hint or "inference" of racial bias in the potential juror's exclusion. According to the decision, if a race-neutral explanation is given, then the judge should uphold the exclusion, but if no race-neutral explanation is provided then the juror should be seated. The ruling overturns a rule adopted by the California Supreme Court that judges should only intervene in jury selection when there is a "strong likelihood" that racial bias is involved in the selection. Under California law, both the prosecution and defense are allowed to remove 20 potential jurors based on the impression that the jurors would not be favorable to their side. JURIST Paper Chase has additional coverage. The Los Angeles Times has more.
- The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments today on whether it should order a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Arizona Proposition 200 [PDF text] while the constitutionality of the Proposition is being determined. Proposition 200 was approved by voters last November and part of the law denies some public benefits to illegal immigrants. The United States District Court of Arizona [official website] denied the preliminary injunction. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund [official website], which is appealing the denial of the preliminary injunction, alleges that the law is unconstitutional because it usurps federal government power over immigration and naturalization. AP has more.