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News Posted on July 23, 2018

King Hall scholars lend insights to media about Supreme Court decisions

King Hall faculty members have commented widely in the media on Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, President Trump’s choice of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy, and decisions delivered by the high court as it wrapped its 2017-18 term.

On July 10, just before UC Davis School of Law’s “Supreme Court Year in Review” panel discussion, panelists Dean Kevin R. Johnson and Professor Aaron Tang appeared on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight” talk show, offering commentary on Kavanaugh and the future of the high court.

Kennedy's retirement announcement in late June merited a special edition of Professor Elizabeth Joh’s podcast "What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law." Joh and co-host Roman Mars dedicated episode 25 to Kennedy, the mostly conservative justice who delivered swing votes in key decisions on abortion, LGBTQ rights and affirmative action.

Professor Ashutosh Bhagwat, who clerked for Kennedy at the Supreme Court in 1991, looked at Kennedy’s legacy in the Daily Journal op-ed “Kennedy: A most strident moderate.”

The Supreme Court’s June 27 Janus v. AFSCME decision delivered a blow to public-sector unions. Tang has written extensively about a possible legislative workaround to Janus, and laid out his thoughts again in an op-ed for In These Times.

The Janus ruling holds that public-sector unions cannot force all employees covered by collective bargaining agreements to pay membership fee. Tang argues that unions in pro-labor states could recoup fees lost because of Janus by having public agencies pay unions directly for bargaining costs, instead of deducting dues from employees and reimbursing the union.

A state lawmaker has proposed such a workaround in New York state, crediting Tang for the idea. The publication City & State New York wrote about the proposed legislation, and quoted Tang. “What this bill will do is say that New York believes that public-sector bargaining is important,” Tang told the publication.

Tang also commented for Sacramento’s Channel 13 about a lawsuit filed by two California state workers seeking to recover union fees they paid before the Janus ruling. Tang told the station the workers would have a hard time recovering costs, since it was “perfectly constitutional” to be charged fees before Janus.

In an op-ed for The Conversation, UC Davis Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Diversity and Professor of Law Raquel Aldana looked at the impact of President Trump’s travel ban on refugees and U.S. families. The high court upheld Trump’s ban on travelers from seven, mostly majority-Muslim countries in its June 26 Trump v. Hawaii decision.

Professor Gabriel “Jack” Chin also weighed in on Trump v. Hawaii, in the Daily Journal op-ed “High court travel ban will have broad impact.”

On June 21, the high court issued a decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., that upheld a South Dakota law allowing states to collect sales taxes from other remote sellers that sell to South Dakota residents, even without having a physical presence in South Dakota. The court overruled its 1992 Quill Corporation v. North Dakota decision.

Professor Darien Shanske commented on Wayfair for State Tax Notes, advising that states should “hew as closely as possible to South Dakota’s law” in passing their own laws related to interstate taxation.

Shanske offered further advice to states, in the wake of Wayfair, in a Medium post he co-authored with David Gamage and Adam Thimmesch. In another post for Medium, titled Wayfair as a Federalism Decision,” Shanske explores how the decision intersects with the Supreme Court’s ruling in NCAA v. Murphy earlier this year. That decision struck down a federal law that made it unlawful for states to authorize betting on sporting events.