Blocking Of Twitter Account By State Representative Violated The Free Speech Clause
Introduction: Even though Campbell v. Reisch, is just a federal district court opinion by the Western District of Missouri, the opinion is important because it is the first opinion in the jurisdiction of the Eighth Circuit dealing with social media and free speech in the context of blocking users from accessing a Twitter account of an elected official. This opinion, along with a recent Second Circuit of Appeals in Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, v. Trump, (US 2nd Circuit, 18-1691), involving President Trump, blocking a user from the President’s Twitter account makes this a hot topic that can easily boil over into local politics. All of this is fueled by a statement by one of the Justices for the United States Supreme Court who stated that the Internet is now the modern equivalent of the town square with respect to exchange of ideas.
Based on current cases the courts are going to go a long way in protecting this forum under the Free Speech Clause of the United States Constitution and the 14th Amendment. This mess may end up on your desk when a local public official who uses his or her Twitter account for communications to the public gets miffed when someone provides an adverse comment and then blocks the offending user.
Facts and Procedure: Sheri Reisch is a state representative in the Missouri House of Representatives for the 44th District who has a Twitter account that is used in the course of her legislative activities to communicate and interact with the public. While describing an event with the State Farm Bureau, Reich tweeted the following on her twitter account about her appearance at a Boone County, Missouri Farm Bureau event that Maren Jones, who was at the event and was Reisch’s political opponent: “Sad my opponent put her hands behind her back during the Pledge.
On June 23, 2018, Representative Kip Kendrick commented on Reisch’s tweet, as follows:
“Maren’s father was a Lieutenant in the Army. Two of her brothers served in the military. I don’t question [Maren’s] patriotism. That’s a low blow and unacceptable from a member of the Boone County delegation.”
Next Campbell retweeted Representative Kendrick’s response to Reisch’s Twitter page in order to provide to the public “context for what [Reisch] was tweeting out into the public sphere.” Campbell was then blocked from Reisch’s twitter account. Campbell then posted to his Twitter account a photo of the notice he received indicating that Reisch had blocked him. Because Reisch blocked Campbell, he was unable to comment on Reisch Twitter page, or otherwise join in the conversation with Reich’s Twitter followers relative to Reisch original tweet. Reisch did not block Campbell due to name-calling or vitriolic speech. Besides Campbell, Reisch has blocked at least 123 other Twitter users from her Twitter account.
This led to a Section 1983 lawsuit by Campbell (Plaintiff) based on an allegation that blocking Campbell from Reich’s (Defendant) Twitter account was “viewpoint-based restriction of speech in a designated public forum in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.” Plaintiff sought a permanent injunction barring Defendant from continuing to block her Twitter account based on the content or viewpoint or speech of Plaintiff and further barring Defendant from blocking any other Twitter users based on the content or viewpoint of the user’s speech.
How Twitter Works: In order to put the matter in perspective (at least for us older folks) the Court described how Twitter works.
Twitter is a social media platform with more than 300 million active users worldwide, including approximately 70 million users in the United States. Twitter allows users to publish short messages to the general public called “tweets”; to republish or respond to others’ tweets; and to interact with other Twitter users. A tweet may include photographs, videos, and hyperlinks but cannot exceed 280 characters. Each Twitter user has a unique account name or “handle,” which comprises an @ symbol followed by a word or phrase. Users may choose to “follow” other Twitter account holders by searching for their handles and clicking the “follow” button. A “followed” user’s tweets automatically appear in the “following” user’s Twitter “feed,” which is a continuously-updating scroll of new tweets from other users. A user may comment on the tweets of other users, or she may “retweet” their tweets to her own follower’s. Users may also see a log of their own past tweets, comments, and retweets, along with any comments or retweets they have received from their own followers. Twitter also allows its users to block certain other users from following their tweets. If the blocked user attempts to follow the blocking user, or attempts to access the Twitter account from which the user is blocked, the blocked user will see a message indicating that the other user has been blocked from following the account and viewing the tweets associated with the account.
Defendant Use of Twitter Account: Defendant Twitter account, uses the Twitter handle @CheriMO44. The “MO44” in her Twitter handle “CheriMO44” refers to the 44th District of the Missouri House of Representatives, for which Defendant is the elected representatives. On her Twitter page, Defendant describes herself as a “Christian, MO State Rep 44th District, Mother, Grandmother.” Below Defendant’s description on her Twitter page is a circle with a downward facing point and the words “District 44, Missouri, USA,” which refers to her district in the Missouri House. Below the reference to her house district is a link to cheri44.com, which is Defendant’s campaign page. The banner photo at the top of Defendant’s Twitter page shows Defendant sitting at her desk on the House floor. The circular photo above Defendant’s profile shows Defendant on the House floor. Defendant’s Twitter account was created in September 2015 when she announced her candidacy for the 44th District of the Missouri House. The district court listed in its findings of fact numerous examples where Defendant used her Twitter account as part of her communications with her constituents and the public. Defendant also used her Twitter page to engage in discourse about political topics and/or to indicate her position relative to other government officials.
Defendant also testified that she reads letters mailed to her from her constituents and that her constituents are not required to contact her through any particular medium; they can reach Defendant in person, by phone, by mail, or by email. Defendant also testified she does not consider Twitter a way in which she communicates with her constituents, or a medium through which Defendant invites communication.
Analysis by District Court: The Court noted that in order to proceed under Section 1983 Plaintiff must show he was (1) deprived of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States and (2) that the alleged deprivation was committed under color of state law.
First, in order to determine whether or not the Plaintiff was deprived of his right of free speech under the First Amendment the Court must determine that the speech in which the plaintiff was engaged or seeks to engage is protected speech. Second, if protected speech, then the Court must consider the place where the plaintiff sought to engage in the speech is susceptible to forum analysis and if it is what type of forum applies. The type of forum is particularly important because the government’s power to regulate speech without running afoul of the First Amendment depends upon the forum.
In this case, the speech at issue was Plaintiff’s retweet of another Representative’s tweet that was critical of a previous tweet made by Defendant, and Plaintiff’s ability to access and interact with other Twitter users relative to Defendant’s Twitter account. The Court concluded that social media is entitled to the same First Amendment protections as other forms of media and that the speech at issue was protected. Having concluded that the speech was protected, the Court determined that forum analysis applied because the interactive space of Defendant’s Twitter account was controlled by the government, (through a public official) as shown by the following facts:
The creation of Defendant’s Twitter account coincided with the start of her campaign for state representative, and @CheriMO44 references Defendant’s role as a state representative and her elected district. While Defendant’s Twitter account also contains personal references, Defendant’s government associations overshadow these. Specifically, the image associated with Defendant’s account is a photo of Defendant on the state house floor; Defendant’s campaign webpage is linked to the account; and Defendant uses the Twitter account to indicate her political positions relative to other government officials and/or to engage in political discourse.
Based on the above, the trial court concluded that the Defendant’s use of her Twitter account made it a designated forum; therefore, Plaintiff was entitled to an injunction because the blocking of the Twitter account violated the free speech clause. Campbell v. Reisch, (U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Western Division, Case No. 2:18–CV–4129– BCW, 08/16/19)
Comment Howard: The federal district court Opinion noted that “the under-color-of-state-law” element of § 1983 “private conduct, no matter how discriminatory or wrongful” is excluded from its reach. Consequently, the question is when does the use of social media by a public official make it a designated public forum? It seems to me that it is possible to limit the interactive component of a Twitter account in order to avoid creating a designated public forum. It is still too early in the process, so until we have some clarification, caution in advising when advising clients.
Free Speech Clause Overrides State Statute That Prohibited Discrimination Based On Sexual Preference
Introduction: A recent Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion involving Minnesota’s anti-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation has the potential to significantly change constitutional law as it relates to anti-discrimination laws. In Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, the Court held that Plaintiffs could state a cause of action that the Minnesota statute violated the First Amendment Free Speech Clause based upon their sincerely held religious beliefs with respect to marriage, by requiring them to make similar videos for same sex couples in an “positive light.” Even though, Missouri does not have a statute that prohibits discrimination based upon sexual orientation the breadth of the Free Speech claim recognized by the Court should be of concern and interest to local government practitioners.
Facts and Procedure: The Larsens are Christians who believe that God has called upon them to use their talents and their company to honor God. The Larsens decline any request for their services that conflict with their religious beliefs. They want to make films that promote their view of marriage as a “sacrificial covenant between one man and one woman.” To do so, they want to begin producing wedding videos, but only of opposite-sex weddings. According to the Larsens, these videos will “capture the background stories of the couples’ love leading to commitment, the [couples’] joy[,] . . . the sacredness of their sacrificial vows at the altar, and even the following chapters of the couple lives.” The Larsens believe that the videos, which they want to produce, post and share online, that are prohibited by the “positive light” interpretation applied to the statute, will allow them to reach “a broader audience to achieve maximum cultural impact” and “affect the cultural narrative regarding marriage.”
The Minnesota Statute Provides: It is an unfair discriminatory practice . . . to deny any person the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodation because of . . . sexual orientation.
It is an unfair discriminatory practice for a person engaged in a trade or business or in the provision of a service . . . to intentionally refuse to do business with, to refuse to contract with, or to discriminate in the basic terms, conditions, or performance of the contract because of a person’s . . . sexual orientation . . . , unless the alleged refusal or discrimination is because of a legitimate business purpose.
Minnesota interprets the above provisions as requiring the Larsens to produce both opposite-sex- and same-sex-wedding videos, or none at all. According to Minnesota, the Larsens’ duty does not end there. If the Larsens enter the wedding video business, their videos must depict same and opposite-sex weddings in an equally “positive light.” The Larsens do not want to make videos celebrating same-sex marriage, which they find objectionable. Instead, they wish to actively promote opposite-sex weddings through their videos, which at a minimum will convey a different message than the videos the MHRA would require them to make of opposite sex marriage. This is true, even if the Larsen’s’ desire to selectively speak is “provocative” and “stirs people to anger,”
The Larsens sued Minnesota in federal district court seeking injunctive relief preventing Minnesota from enforcing the MHRA against them. Their principal theory is that it is unconstitutional under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to require them to make same-sex-wedding videos. The district court ruled that the Larsens did not state a cause of action and they appealed to the Eighth Circuit.
Analysis: The complaint made it clear that the Larsens’ videos will not just be simple recordings like planting a video camera at the end of the aisle and pressing record. Rather, they intend to shoot, assemble, and edit the videos with the goal of expressing their own views about the sanctity of marriage. Even if their customers have some say over the finished product, the complaint itself is clear that the Larsens retain ultimate editorial judgment and control.
Minnesota argued that it is regulating the Larsens’ conduct, not their speech. The Court noted that while producing a video requires several actions that, individually, might be mere conduct like positioning a camera, setting up microphones, and clicking and dragging files on a computer screen. Nevertheless, what matters for the Courts analysis is that these activities come together to produce finished videos that are “medi[a] for the communication of ideas.”
Based on the above analysis the 8th Circuit concluded that Minnesota’s interpretation of the MHRA interfered with the Larsens’ speech because it compelled the Larsens to speak favorably about same-sex marriage, if they choose to speak favorably about opposite-sex marriage. It also operated as a content-based regulation of their speech.
The Eighth Circuit noted that the Supreme Court has “held time and again that freedom of speech includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all. In addition, the “choice of a speaker not to propound a particular point of view . . . is presumed to lie beyond the government’s power to control.” To apply the MHRA to the Larsens in the manner Minnesota threatens is at odds with the “cardinal constitutional command” against compelled speech.
Case law shows that regulating speech because it is discriminatory or offensive is not a compelling state interest, however hurtful the speech may be. It is a “bedrock principle . . . that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, (8th Cir., No. 17-3352, 08/23/19)
Comment Howard: This case was remanded for further proceedings on the First Amendment Free Speech claim. There was a vigorous dissent in this case concerning the novelty and breadth of the majority opinion. Nevertheless, the facts in this case make a compelling argument for the free-speech claim. Seems pretty clear to me, that the 1940’s loyalty oath cases with respect to compelling speech are controling and that Minnesota’s interpretation requiring a positive light is a fatal flaw in Minnesota’s argument. This case is part of a significant movement by religious groups to carve out exceptions to discrimination laws based upon religious beliefs. There is a case currently pending before United States Supreme Court, for oral argument, as a follow up to the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which may shed light on the free-speech issue. I suspect that there will be difficulty in determining where to draw the line and where this case really takes us. In any event I expect this will not make the job of local government lawyers any easier because of the multitude of potential claims. Stay tuned.
Eighth Circuit Upholds Arkansas State Statute That Prohibits Adult Book Stores Within 1000 Feet Of A School
Facts and Procedure: Eleven days before Telescope Media Group case (discussed above) was decided another Eighth Circuit panel rejected a free-speech claim in Adam and Eve Jonesboro v. Rutledge, which challenged an Arkansas zoning statute that prohibited adult oriented businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of schools and other places frequented by children.
The Arkansas state statute applied:
“…to an “adult bookstore or video store,” which is defined as a commercial establishment that “offers for sale or rent any of the following as one (1) of its principal business purposes”:
A. A book, magazine, periodical or other printed matter, photograph, film, motion picture, videocassette, reproduction, slide, or other visual representation that depicts or describes a specific sexual activity; or (B) An instrument, a device, or paraphernalia that is designed for use in connection with a specific sexual activity. Id. § 302(2). A “specific sexual activity” is a “sex act, actual or simulated,” or “[f]ondling or other erotic touching of a human genital, a pubic region, a buttock, an anus, or a female breast.” The Act grandfathers in stores that opened before July 31, 2007, and does not apply when a protected site, like a school or daycare, subsequently locates within a business’s buffer zone.
Violations of the above statute are punished as a Class A misdemeanor.
Appellant wanted to open an Adam and Eve franchise in Jonesboro, Arkansas. According to its website, the national retailer promotes itself as the “#1 Adult Toy Superstore” and the “leading sex toy company in the USA.” It advertises a wide variety of bondage gear, lingerie, movies, and personal lubricants. The proposed Jonesboro franchise, however, would sell only lingerie, adult toys, costumes, novelties, games, massage oils, and personal lubricants. In December 2017, Adam and Eve received a privilege license to do business in Jonesboro. The privilege license application instructs potential entrepreneurs to coordinate with city planners to ensure that their proposed locations and uses comply with zoning laws. Adam and Eve did not do so, and on January 25, 2018, the building inspector refused to issue a certificate of occupancy, which was required to open a business. The City Attorney explained that “the location chosen by the store required them to apply for and receive a conditional use permit, based upon its zoning.
Adam and Eve sued in federal district court, under Section 1983, contending that the statute violated their First Amendment free-speech rights. The district court concluded that intermediate scrutiny applied to Adam and Eve’s First Amendment claim and held that, under Renton and Alameda Books, the Act passed muster. Specifically, the court credited the legislature’s focus on the secondary effects caused by adult businesses. Thus, it was “quite reasonable and rational for a legislator to conclude that more of these kinds of [adult-oriented] businesses contribute or create the potential for more of the bad secondary effects.” Adam and Eve appealed to the Eighth Circuit.
Analysis: Citing the United States Supreme Court opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Eighth Circuit noted that not all conduct is “protected speech simply because the person engaging in [it] intends thereby to express an idea.” In order to evaluate the claim of Adam and Eve it is first necessary to determine if the plaintiff’s action constituted expressive conduct making it necessary to determine if ”… a particularized message was present, and whether the likelihood was great that a message would be understood by those who viewed it.”
Adam and Eve did not cite any authority to support their argument. In addition, they “jettisoned any claim to expressive conduct when they stipulated that “Adam and Eve agrees not to sell pornographic DVDs, books, and magazines.” Furthermore, Counsel for Adam and Eve repeatedly stressed that the “store in Jonesboro has not, does not, and will not sell DVDs, videos, books, literature, periodicals, posters of any kind.” The Court concluded that having disavowed any expressive conduct, that Adam and Eve cannot state a claim under the First Amendment because there is no speech to protect. Adam and Eve’s claim that the district court applied the wrong standard of review to its free speech claim missed the mark because intermediate scrutiny still applies under current case law. Adam and Eve Jonesboro v. Rutledge, (8th Cir., No. 18–2818 , 08/12/19)
Comment Howard: For now, local government attorneys can rest easy knowing that laws, which limit adult bookstores are still valid, notwithstanding a free-speech claim. While this case appears to be a run-of-the-mill zoning case that limits the location of adult bookstores it would appear that Adam and Eve had a much different strategy with respect to this case. First, they slimmed down their store operations by stipulating to the sale or display of products that could have included “expressive conduct.” The Court nevertheless cut this argument off by noting that Adam and Eve stipulated their case out of court. In a beautiful move, the court declared, Checkmate, your King is gone.
Comment Ragan: One could jokingly wonder how the courts would rule if Adam and Eve or a strip club claimed the activity they were engaged in was an was an expression of their religious beliefs and the promotion of heterosexual relationships between men and women.
Towing And Retaining a Vehicle Without A Search Warrant Makes City Liable For Damages To Owner Of Vehicle
Facts and Procedure: The City of St. Louis, successor to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD), responded to a hit-and-run accident. Based on information received from the victim. Officer Kelly suspected that the vehicle, which left the scene was a Ford F-150 truck registered to Meier. She asked a SLMPD clerk to report the truck as “wanted” for an ordinance violation on the Regional Justice Information Service (REJIS) network, which allows law enforcement agencies within the county to share information with each other.
Later, Maryland Heights Police Department (MHPD) Officer Cliff House saw Ben Meier (Mary Meier’s son) and a companion sitting in a truck at a hotel parking lot. House looked up the truck’s license plate number on REJIS and saw that it was wanted by SLMPD. The officer arrested Meier’s son and his companion on other grounds and then directed dispatch to arrange for the truck to be towed because of the wanted report, which arranged for Doc’s Towing to pick up the truck. When a driver from Doc’s Towing arrived, House indicated that the truck was wanted by the City of St. Louis. The driver wrote “Maryland Heights Police Department,” “Hold,” and the date on the truck’s back window and then towed it to Doc’s Towing, where it was stored.
MHPD dispatch sent SLMPD a message through REJIS: “We have located this vehicle and we are towing it to Doc’s Towing due to an arrest.” SLMPD responded, “Please notify our First District Detective Bureau in the morning with arrest information.” In the morning, SLMPD followed up with another message to MHPD: “Advise driver/owner of vehicle to respond to the First District Detective Bureau regarding release of vehicle.” MHPD mailed Meier a notice that the truck had been towed to Doc’s Towing. On March 18, Meier and her son went to Doc’s Towing to get the truck back. An employee told them that MHPD had “released” the truck but that SLMPD still had a “hold” on the truck, and therefore it could not be released.
Later that month, Ben Meier contacted SLMPD Detective John Russo to figure out how to remove the “wanted/hold” on the truck. Russo explained that Ben would have to answer SLMPD’s “questions relative to the accident.” Eventually, Meier hired a lawyer, Jeff Rath, who obtained a “release order” from SLMPD that “rescinded” the March 17 “hold order” on the truck. Doc’s Towing then allowed Meier to retrieve the truck after paying a tow fee and a separate storage fee based on the number of days in storage. Unfortunately, the truck had been damaged during its time in storage, and an employee who mistakenly believed that the truck had been abandoned by its owner had already applied for salvage title. Doc’s Towing attempted to remedy this error, but at the time briefing was completed on this appeal, Meier still had not obtained clean title for the truck.
Meier brought a 1983 civil rights lawsuit against the City and Doc’s Towing claiming that both defendants violated her rights under the Fourth and 14th Amendments when her car was towed and stored without her consent or a warrant. The District Court granted summary judgment in the defendant’s favor, concluding that neither defendant could be held liable for the alleged violation. Plaintiff appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Analysis: In order to hold a business liable under § 1983 Meier must show that the alleged constitutional violation was caused by an “action pursuant to official municipal policy of some nature.”
The Court noted that the facts showed that the Training Manuel used to train officers and employees defined “wanted” on a car as:
“[w]anted means . . . once you stop that vehicle and confirm the status of it, that vehicle would then be held if it meets the criteria from the originating agency.”
The City argued that Doc’s Towing Company was at fault for seizing the vehicle because it recorded the request from the City as putting a “hold” on Meir’s vehicle resulting in the seizure instead of using the term “wanted,” which was the term used in the Training Manual. The Training officer, Jennings, testified that even though hold orders are not mentioned in the Training manual that she understood the term “hold” to “be synonymous with word “wanted.” SLMPD Captain Steven Mueller, who was designated as SLMPD representative under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, understood that reporting a vehicle as wanted on REJIS is a request that the investigating officer “[d]etain [the vehicle] for us.”
Furthermore, the City does not contest that Jenning’s, the training officer, and Mueller are policymaking officials, so their statements demonstrate that SLMPD’s policymaking officials are aware of this practice. Therefore, the Court concluded that based on the above statements that:
A reasonable jury could find that Meier’s truck was towed and held pursuant to SLMPD’s unwritten but widespread an persistent policy of reporting vehicles as wanted for the purpose of detaining them without a warrant.
In addition, the Court concluded that the above unwritten policy resulted in Doc’s Towing Company towing Meir’s vehicle and retaining making it liable even though it was a private actor because it was a willing participant in the joint activity with the City.
“The Supreme Court has recognized a number of circumstances in which a private party may be characterized as a [governmental] actor,” including “where a private actor is a ‘willful participant in joint activity with the [governmental entity] or its agents.’” “The one unyielding requirement is that there be a ‘close nexus’ not merely between the state and the private party, but between the state and the alleged deprivation itself.”
The Court concluded that the evidence showed that there was a “close nexus” between the City and Doc’s Towing making Doc’s Towing liable. Meier v. St. Louis, Missouri, (8th Cir. No. 18-1597, 08/19/19)
Comment Howard: This case is no small matter because the evidence showed that the City was using the custom and practice, “wanted/hold,” as an investigative tool potentially affecting a large number of towed vehicles. One of the problems, would appear to be the disconnect between the policies adopted as part of a regional effort to coordinate activities between law enforcement agencies and the legal requirements to seize a vehicle. The City’s attempt to argue that tow company improperly used the “hold” designation to blame the tow company failed because there was no factual support for this the claim. It would appear that the City will be facing additional lawsuits if vehicles were illegally towed without a warrant.
FCC Small Cell Order Advancing the Deployment of 5G Infrastructure On Local Right-of -Way Questioned
Recently, IMLA issued an alert that the FCC Small Cell Order advancing the deployment of 5G infrastructure, applicable to local communities, without any NEPA or NHPA review is questionable. This alert is based upon a recent DC Circuit opinion, which held that the FCC Order in a similar proceeding relating to State and Tribal Historic preservation and environmental protection efforts was arbitrary and capricious. FCC v National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation (District of Columbia, 18-1129)
As you may recall, local government is subject to a similar order relating to deployment of 5G technology, which preempts all local regulations relating to the deployment of small cell technology on city right away. In essence, most local government regulatory requirements for the construction of wireless facilities no longer apply allowing telecommunication carriers to deploy their small cell technology without any local government oversight. The September–October edition of the Municipal Attorney recently released by IMLA contains an excellent article, which may be of interest to you if your community is concerned about the deployment of small cell technology. The impact of the FCC Order as described by the authors of the article as follows:
“As a result, small cell poles (such as streetlights and lamp posts) will have 5G transmitters that are less than 50 ft. off the ground and will be located only a few hundred feet or less apart in rights-of- way like sidewalks and alleyways, only yards from homes and businesses. Yet, despite this vastly different environment for 5G, in its Order the FCC summarily dismissed the requests of Montgomery County and others to reevaluate the Commission’s RF rules, instead leaving standards of over 20 years in place without any environmental evaluation.”
If your community is interested in this issue you may want to consider contacting IMLA or the authors of this article, ALBERT CATALANO, Counsel, ERIC GOTTING, Partner, and TIMOTHY DOUGHTY, Associate, Keller and Heckman, LLP. Washington D.C
Cases And Issues To Watch
City of Boise v. Martin is getting some serious attention from municipal and other governmental entities. As you may recall in this matter the 9th Circuit found that ordinances that prohibit homeless individuals from sleeping in public places violates the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Scotusblog is tracking and posting the petitions being filed with the court. If you are facing this argument and issue this would be a reasonable source to turn to for more information. Petitions on Scotusblog.
IMLA And Resources:
Did you miss the most recent IMLA conference? One important issue that was discussed at the IMLA conference was blight fighting strategies. The City of Memphis did a presentation on blight fighting and strategies adopted by Memphis as a result of the housing crisis in 2008. Memphis developed a full court press strategy to deal with blighted properties. They created a special team composed of various departments, created a special court, and pulled resources together to quickly address issues. The City of Memphis has created the Strategic Code Enforcement Management Academy. You can learn more about this fantastic program at www.strategiccodeenforcement.com.