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Sep 11, 2023

Constitutional – Fetal Heartbeat Anti-Abortion Act – Privacy Right – Reasonable Invasion

In a new version of the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act (the 2023 Act), our General Assembly has made a policy determination that, at a certain point of pregnancy, a woman’s interest in autonomy and privacy does not outweigh the interest of the unborn child to live. We cannot say as a matter […]

Jun 29, 2023

Constitutional – Due Process – Involuntary Commitment – Sexually Violent Predator – First Impression

Petitioner was charged with multiple sexual offenses, but he was incompetent to stand trial. The Sexually Violent Predator Act applies to persons “convicted of a sexually violent offense”; however, the Act defines this phrase to include a person who has “been charged but determined to be incompetent to stand trial for a sexually violent offense.” […]

Jan 19, 2023

Constitutional – Privacy Right – 6-Week Abortion Ban – ‘Informed Choice’

Our state constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman’s decision to have an abortion. The state unquestionably has the authority to limit the right of privacy that protects women from state interference with her decision, but any such limitation must be reasonable and it must be meaningful in that the time frames imposed must […]

Sep 28, 2022

Constitutional – Civil Forfeiture Statutes – Facial Challenge – Due Process & Excessive Fines 

In a civil forfeiture case, the state need only show probable cause to believe the seized property has a substantial connection to criminal activity; then, the burden shifts to a claimant to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was innocently owned. Although the wisdom of this procedure may be questionable, we […]

Mar 29, 2022

Constitutional – Denial of church’s zoning requests didn’t violate law

Where a church was aware of zoning restrictions when it purchased property, it could not have had a reasonable expectation of religious land use, dooming its claim under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act or RLUIPA. Because the land use restrictions were rationally related to the government’s interest in protecting the region’s watershed, […]

Feb 11, 2022

Constitutional – Prison’s single-vendor policy did not violate Muslim detainee’s rights

Where a practicing Muslim detainee argued that he should not be forced to purchase his prayer oils from a commissary that sells swine and idols because Islam prohibits buying religious items from such vendors, the corrections department prevailed at trial on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, or RLUIPA, claim because the single-vendor […]

Feb 1, 2022

Constitutional – Sex-offender treatment variations are constitutional

Where Virginia’s sex-offender registry law allows an offender who is charged with “carnal knowledge of a child” to be removed from the registry in time if he is less than five years older than his victim, but not if he is charged with “taking indecent liberties with children,” the differing treatment doesn’t violate the Equal […]

Dec 21, 2021

Constitutional – Challenge to COVID-19 restrictions is moot

Where a church alleged that certain COVID-19 executive orders issued by the Virginia governor violated its religious rights, but the orders expired in June 2020 and the state of emergency on which they were predicated ended in July 2021, the challenge was moot. Background Lighthouse Fellowship Church initiated this civil action against Ralph Northam, challenging […]

Nov 3, 2021

Constitutional – Due Process – Vagueness – Disorderly Conduct & Disturbing Schools Laws

South Carolina’s “Disorderly Conduct Law” and its former “Disturbing Schools Law” do not give public schoolchildren notice of the conduct prohibited, and the laws’ subjectivity has led to disproportionate enforcement against children of color and those living with disabilities. The court grants plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and declares these laws unconstitutionally vague. [...]

Nov 3, 2021

Constitutional – Substantive Due Process – Municipal Housing Authority – Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Plaintiff alleges that defendant’s failure to maintain certain furnaces or to install carbon monoxide detectors in its apartments made an eventual death virtually certain, yet plaintiff has not alleged that defendant had any knowledge of an actual carbon monoxide leak or other similar dangerous conditions prior to the death of plaintiff’s decedent. Knowing that harm […]

Oct 6, 2021

Constitutional – Heritage Act – Supermajority Requirement – First Impression – Flag & Monument Removal Provisions

Absent a constitutional provision to the contrary, the General Assembly acts and conducts business through majority vote. Therefore, the requirement of S.C. Code An. § 10-1-165(B)—that the Heritage Act could only be amended or repealed by a supermajority—is unconstitutional. However, we uphold the constitutionality of the Heritage Act’s substantive provisions. Section 10-1-165(B) is unconst[...]

Sep 29, 2021

Constitutional – Decisions allowing gun purchases by persons under 21 vacated

Where the Fourth Circuit previously held that a federal law banning the purchase of a handgun by persons under 21 violated the Second Amendment, but the plaintiff in that case turned 21 before the mandate issued, her original claims were mooted and therefore the circuit vacated its and the district court’s opinions. Background Natalia Marshall, […]

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