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Constitutional

Constitutional – Separation of Powers — Appropriations & Expenditures – Labor & Employment – Public Employees – Health Insurance – Premium Increases — Administrative (access required)

Bryson v. State Budget & Control Board Petitioner brought this suit seeking a declaration that the S.C. Budget and Control Board’s Aug. 8, 2012 decision raising enrollee premiums for the state’s health insurance plan was a violation of the constitutional separation of powers.

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Constitutional – Homeowner’s ‘Screwed’ Sign Struck (access required)

Brown v. Town of Cary A resident of Cary, N.C., loses his constitutional challenge to a local sign ordinance, cited by the town to demand removal of a sign painted on the resident’s house saying “Screwed by the Town of Cary”; the 4th Circuit reverses the district court decision for the resident, and says the Cary sign ordinance is content neutral and passes constitutional scrutiny.

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Constitutional – Campaign Finance Law Partly Upheld (access required)

Center for Individual Freedom Inc. v. Tennant, Sec’y of the State of W. Va. In a challenge by plaintiff advocacy groups, the Center for Individual Freedom and West Virginians for Life, to the district court’s decision interpreting West Virginia’s statutory scheme to regulate advocacy groups’ spending in political campaigns, the 4th Circuit upholds the district court decision to strike periodicals from the definition of “electioneering communications” and upholds the definition’s exclusion of grassroots lobbying, but reverses other portions of the lower court decision.

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Constitutional – First Amendment – Free Speech – Labor & Employment – Public Employees – Course of Employment – Non-Employer – Qualified Immunity (access required)

Rowe v. Benjamin Even though the speech that got plaintiff fired was on a matter of public concern, since he spoke out pursuant to his official duties as a government employee, the First Amendment does not protect him from discipline. Although the defendant-mayor was not plaintiff’s employer, since this area of law is not well settled, the mayor is entitled to qualified immunity.

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Constitutional – Free Speech – Pregnancy Center – Limited Services – Municipal Ordinance – Sign Posting – No Licensed Medical Staff (access required)

Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County, Md. A Maryland limited-services pregnancy services center wins an injunction against enforcement of a local ordinance that would require it to post a sign saying it did not have a “licensed medical professional on staff”; the 4th Circuit reverses the district court’s denial of an injunction to the center.

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Constitutional -Free Speech – Pregnancy Center – Municipal Ordinance – No Referrals – Abortion & Birth Control (access required)

Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns Inc. v. St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Congregation Inc. The 4th Circuit upholds summary judgment for a Baltimore “Pregnancy Center” on its challenge to a local ordinance the Center said violated its free speech rights by compelling it to post signs saying the Center did not provide or make referral for abortion or birth control services.

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Constitutional – Dual Office-Holding – Municipal – County Council – County Hospital Board – Bankruptcy (access required)

In re Barnwell County Hospital Even though the S.C. Constitution generally bars an individual from holding two offices of honor or profit at the same time, since the Barnwell County Council has responsibility for and ownership of the assets of the Barnwell County Hospital, members of the County Council may also appoint themselves to the Barnwell County Hospital Board.

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Constitutional – Freedom of Speech – Municipal – Sign Ordinance – ‘Content Neutral’ (access required)

Wag More Dogs LLC v. Cozart An Arlington County sign ordinance that required a doggy daycare business to remove a 960-square foot painting of cartoon dogs on the side of the daycare’s business passes constitutional muster as a content-neutral restriction on speech that survives intermediate scrutiny, the 4th Circuit says.

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Constitutional – Inverse Condemnation Claim – Police Power – Hostage Situation – Damage to Building (access required)

Carolina Convenience Stores, Inc. v. City of Spartanburg Even though plaintiff’s store was damaged while the defendant-city’s police rescued a hostage from her kidnapper, this was an exercise of the city’s police power and not its power of eminent domain. Therefore, plaintiff failed to make out an inverse condemnation claim against the city. We affirm summary judgment for the city.

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