The Network for Public Health Law monitors key court cases and relevant judicial trends in public health. The Network’s monthly reporter, Judicial Trends in Public Health (JTPH), highlights select published cases from the prior 3 months in public health law and policy. These cases are organized below by name, issuing court, date of issuance, along with a brief synopsis, link to the case abstract, and hyperlink to the full decisions (when publicly available). For more information, including a topic digest of these and other cases, see below. Questions, comments, thoughts? Contact the Network for more information.
Thakker v. Doll (U.S. District Court - Middle District of Pennsylvania, March 31, 2020): The federal district court issued a temporary restraining order requiring the immediate release of the ten petitioners, health-vulnerable immigrants held in civil detention under order of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Pennsylvania correctional facilities. Read the abstract here.
Maine Community Health Options v. U.S. (U.S. Supreme Court, April 27, 2020): The Supreme Court ordered the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to pay health insurers for losses under a now-defunct provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Read the abstract here.
Guns Save Life, Inc. v. Ali (Appellate Court of Illinois - First District, March 13, 2020) An Illinois appellate court upheld a Cook County ordinance taxing the sale of firearms and ammunition. Read the abstract here.
Fraihat v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (U.S.District Court - Central District of California, April 20, 2020): A California district court ordered Immigration and Customs (ICE) to identify and track detainees with COVID-19 risk factors and make timely custody determinations. Read the abstract here.
District of Columbia v. U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S. District Court - District of Columbia, March 13, 2020): The federal district court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction halting a federal rule that would remove an estimated 700,000 individuals from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Read the abstract here.
Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority v. Arkansas Attorney General (Arkansas Court of Appeals Division III, March 18, 2020): The Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Boone County Circuit Court that the Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority (Ozark) was subject to Arkansas Code Annotated § 20-7-136 (Act 197), which was not unconstitutionally vague. Read the abstract here.
Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner v. Las Vegas Review-Journal (Nevada Supreme Court, March 25, 2020): A Nevada court held that a coroner’s office was required to disclose juvenile autopsy reports requested by a newspaper under the Nevada Public Records Act. Read the abstract here.
County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund (U.S. Supreme Court, April 23, 2020): The Supreme Court answered a long-standing question of whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) applies to pollutant discharges that enter navigable waters through groundwater, holding that the CWA applies to discharges that are the functional equivalent of a direct discharge. Read the abstract here.
Friends of DeVito v. Wolf (Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, April 13, 2020): The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld Governor Wolf’s order closing all non-life-sustaining businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the abstract here.
Legacy Church, Inc. v. Kunkel (U.S. District Court - District of New Mexico, April 17, 2020): A district court held a church failed to demonstrate that the 1st Amendment’s free exercise clause and right to freedom of assembly were violated by the New Mexico Department of Health’s emergency order limiting mass gatherings. Read the abstract here.
TOPICS: These and other cases are organized on the Network website under the topics below (adapted from chapter titles in Public Health Law in a Nutshell (3rd Edition) by James G. Hodge, Jr., Director, Network for Public Health Law—Western Region). Select a topic below to view all cases under that topic.
JTPH is a collaboration of the Network’s Western and Eastern Region Offices edited by April Shaw, JD, PhD, Staff Attorney, at the Western Region Office. Additional contributors include: James G. Hodge, Jr., JD, LLM, Kathi Hoke, JD, Leila Barraza, JD, MPH, Kerri McGowan Lowrey, JD, MPH, Mathew R. Swinburne, JD, Megan Griest, MPP, and Michelle Notrica, Pharm.D., J.D., MPH.