The Foundation’s legal action in this area focuses on cases where we feel there has been an intrusion upon individual constitutional rights by the local, state or federal government or where government has showed a lack of adequate transparency in any area (with the exception of classified material necessarily withheld for national security). As a watchdog in this area, we have joined cases to prevent Government attempts to unjustly expand its regulatory authority into privately owned land, private businesses or public areas under local control. For example, the federal government has used the Clean Water Act to try to assert authority over wetlands that are over 20 miles away from any navigable waterway from which the Act would apply. Additionally, we argued in support of New York City business owners who declined to display gory, anti-smoking signs in their stores that they disagreed with and may impact unrelated sales. We have also advocated in support of property owners who are restricted from making economically productive use of their property by the government due to environmental regulations, but are provided no compensation from the government.

Read more about these Foundation activities in the legal actions summaries below.

Case Name:
Robert F. McDonnell v. United States Of America
Date Filed:
04/05/2016
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

We argued in this case to uphold the conviction of a corrupt Republican politician, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Governor McDonnell was found guilty by a jury of 11 counts of corruption and fraud, including granting political favors to a Richmond businessman in exchange for golf outings, lavish vacations, and $120,000 in loans. In total, the governor accepted more than $175,000 in personal benefits (loans and luxury items) in exchange for agreeing to use the power of his office on behalf of his benefactor. McDonnell claims that the federal statues penalizing bribery and extortion are impermissibly vague under the U.S. Constitution. The Foundation believes that changing or limiting these statutes would increase the number of corrupt politicians that would escape prosecution.

Verdict:
Pending

Case Name:
Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Ass’n
Date Filed:
10/16/2014
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

The Foundation argued in this case that a federal administrative agency should provide public notice of its plans before significantly altering its interpretation of an agency regulation, as well as provide a meaningful opportunity for members of the public to participate in the revision process. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
New York Statewide Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce v. New York City Dep’t of Health and Mental Hygiene
Date Filed:
04/25/2014
Court:
New York State Court of Appeals
Foundation Action:

Here, the Foundation argued against an effort by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Board of Health to ban all sugary beverages containing more than 25 calories per 8 fluid ounces and that exceeded 16 ounces in size. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Citizens in Charge, Inc. v. Husted
Date Filed:
03/10/2014
Court:
U.S District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
Foundation Action:

In this case in Ohio, the Foundation argued that out-of-state volunteers and workers should be allowed to assist gathering signatures on petitions. We partnered with Judicial Watch on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
McBurney v. Young
Date Filed:
08/30/2012
Court:
Foundation Action:

The Foundation argued here in support of a man looking to obtain information from the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request after his wife had defaulted on her child support obligations. We partnered with Judicial Watch on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
23-34 94th St. Grocery, Corp. v. New York City Board of Health
Date Filed:
07/15/2011
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Foundation Action:

The Foundation argued here that requiring New York City retailers to display signs displaying a gory, anti-smoking message on their stores is a violation of First Amendment rights. Forcing someone to convey and associate with speech with which they disagree violates the free speech protections of the U.S. Constitution. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States
Date Filed:
07/05/2011
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, AEF argued that property owners should be entitled to compensation when government environmental regulations prevent them from making any productive use of their property. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
King v. United States
Date Filed:
05/13/2010
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, AEF argued in support of a farmer in Idaho who was convicted of a federal felony for injecting melting snow into his irrigation wells to ensure adequate irrigation water during the summer and did not endanger drinking water. The government argued this was a violation of an environmental statute and he was convicted. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Bloomberg LP v. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
Date Filed:
12/14/2009
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Foundation Action:

Here, the Foundation argued that requests by news organizations for information on taxpayer funded bailouts of financial institutions should be provided (not withheld) in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms
Date Filed:
11/23/2009
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Foundation Action:

Here, AEF argued that an overarching, nationwide injunction against future marketing, distribution, and planting of a genetically modified is crop is not appropriate unless there is evidence that parties will suffer irreparable harm unless the injunction is in place. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
FedEx Home Delivery v. National Labor Relations Board
Date Filed:
05/12/2008
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued against new rules about how employers should classify workers, that is, as employees or independent contractors. We felt the court should focus on clarifying current rules rather than creating new rules which could cause considerable confusion with little benefit. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
California v. General Motors
Date Filed:
04/15/2008
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Foundation Action:

AEF argued in this case the six major automakers should not be responsible for billions of dollars in damages to California for beach erosion and other environmental impacts just because their vehicles emit carbon dioxide. We believe that global warming issues should be resolved by the political branches of government. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Nat'l Assoc. of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife
Date Filed:
02/20/2007
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) should not trump all other federal laws that mandate specific actions just because some fear that those actions might cause harm to an endangered species. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
United States v. Dolan
Date Filed:
07/14/2005
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, the Foundation argued that the United States Postal Service should be subject to lawsuits under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) when postal employees' negligence causes physical injuries and property damage to the public. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Rapanos v. United States
Date Filed:
04/04/2005
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, AEF argued that the federal government cannot use the Clean Water Act to exact regulatory authority over isolated wetlands located 20 miles away from a navigable waterway that should be subject solely to local control. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Franklin Savings v. United States
Date Filed:
02/25/2005
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, AEF argued that the government may effectively take over a private savings institution and deplete its assets without having to pay compensation to its owners under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Ass'n
Date Filed:
10/15/2004
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, the Foundation argued that the federal government should not be able to force beef producers to provide financial support for advertising with which they disagree, as this impinges on First Amendment rights. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
GDF Realty Investments v. Norton
Date Filed:
09/03/2004
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, we argued that the federal Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) should not have unlimited authority to prevent a Texas landowner from developing his land because development may disturb endangered beetles that live in nearby caves. We believe that the FWS should have attenuated authority when restricting land development in the name of protecting endangered species. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Rancho Viejo, LLC v. Norton
Date Filed:
01/28/2004
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, AEF argued that the U.S. Department of Interior does not have the authority to prevent residential development under the Endangered Species Act because of possible adverse effects on a rare species of toad. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
United States Postal Service v. Flamingo Industries (U.S.A.) Ltd.
Date Filed:
09/15/2003
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that the U.S. Postal Service should not be exempt from lawsuits alleging it has engaged in anticompetitive conduct deemed wrongful by antitrust laws in the Sherman Act. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Esplanade Properties v. City of Seattle
Date Filed:
04/07/2003
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, AEF argued that property owners should be entitled to compensation when government environmental regulations prevent them from making any productive use of their property. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Nike, Inc. v. Kasky
Date Filed:
11/15/2002
Court:
California Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

We argued here that corporations, in this case Nike, should be able to speak freely without sanctions on issues of public importance which here involves labor conditions at its overseas manufacturing plants. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Alcan Aluminum Corp. v. United States
Date Filed:
05/31/2001
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, AEF argued that a company (Alcan Aluminum) should not be required by the government to pay a large portion of the cleanup cost at a toxic waste site if it did not play a role in creating it. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss