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.
CA Smoke & Vape Association, Inc. v. County of Los Angeles (U.S. District Court, Central District of California, August 7, 2020): A California district court found no due process claim where plaintiffs, CA Smoke & Vape Association Inc. and Ace Smoke Shop, could not obtain necessary tobacco retail licensing amid the COVID-19 emergency. Read the abstract here.
District of Columbia, et al. v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, et al. (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, October 18, 2020): A federal court blocked the first of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 3 measures planned to restrict access to SNAP benefits, calling the measures “arbitrary and capricious,” as they ignored the conditions of local labor markets and were not based on evidence. Read the abstract here.
Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Azar (U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, September 3, 2020): In a split decision, the Fourth Circuit held that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could not enforce a rule banning federally-funded health care providers from referring patients for abortion, instead requiring them to refer patients to prenatal care. Read the abstract here.
Texas Democratic Party v. Abbott (U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, October 14, 2020): The Fifth Circuit concluded that a Texas statute requiring voters under age 65 to provide a justification for voting by mail was not, on its own, unconstitutional via the 26th Amendment “right to vote” protections, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the abstract here.
Texas League of United Latin American Citizens, et al. v. Hughs (U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, October 12, 2020): The 5th Circuit upheld the Texas Governor’s proclamation allowing only one ballot drop box per county where voters can hand deliver their absentee ballots. Read the abstract here.
Republican National Committee v. Common Cause Rhode Island (U.S. Supreme Court, August 13, 2020): The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge by the Republican National Committee and state Republican Party to a consent decree suspending Rhode Island’s requirement that 2 witnesses sign an absentee ballot. Read the abstract here.
Duncan v. Becerra (U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, August 14, 2020): The Ninth Circuit held California’s near-categorical large capacity magazine (LCM) ban violated the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Read the abstract here.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, et al. v. Devos, et al. (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, September 4, 2020): A federal court held that Secretary of Education DeVos and U.S. Department of Education (DOE) violated the clear language of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in issuing a regulation to illegally divert needed funds away from public school students for the benefit of private schools. Read the abstract here.
Harvest Rock Inc. v. Newsom (U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, October 1, 2020): The Ninth Circuit declined to enjoin enforcement of California Governor Newsom’s executive orders restricting in-person worship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the abstract here.
Illinois Republican Party, et. al. v. Pritzker (U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, September 3, 2020): The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused to block Illinois Governor Pritzker’s COVID-19 order limiting all gatherings (except for religious purposes) to 50 persons. Read the abstract here.
JTPH is a collaboration of the Network’s Western and Eastern Region Offices. Western Region contributors include James G. Hodge, Jr., JD, LLM, Jennifer Piatt, JD, and Claudia Reeves. Eastern Region contributors include Kathi Hoke, JD, Kerri McGowan Lowrey, JD, MPH, Mathew R. Swinburne, JD, Brooke Torton, JD, and Megan Griest, MPP.
Legal information or guidance provided in this transmission or website does not constitute legal advice or representation. For legal advice, please consult specific legal counsel in your state.