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Supreme Court hears arguments in California labor, paralegal fees cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Wednesday in Chamber of Commerce v. Brown [LII case backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-939, a case where the Court is reviewing the constitutionality of a 2000 California law [Assembly Bill 1889 text] that prohibits employers from using certain funds they receive from the state to influence union elections. During arguments Wednesday, Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts took issue with the contention that the California law is neutral, while Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg indicated support for the view that California should be able to limit how employers spend state-provided funds. In 2006, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld [PDF text] the California law, ruling that it was neither preempted by the National Labor Relations Act [text] nor rendered unenforceable by the US Constitution's Supremacy Clause. The Court granted certiorari [JURIST report] in November 2007. AP has more.

The Court also heard arguments [transcript, PDF] Wednesday in Richlin Security Service v. Chertoff [LII case backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-1717, a case where the considered whether paralegal services can be recovered at the market rate when determining the payment of attorneys' fees. The Court granted certiorari [JURIST report] in November, and a decision in this case would resolve a split among the circuit courts of appeal. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that the Equal Access to Justice Act [text] permits only the reimbursement of paralegal services as the cost of the expense to the attorneys rather than as fees at the market rate.

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