[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's states brief, the US Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit ruled [PDF opinion] today that North Dakota may not use federal water pollution laws to challenge the Army Corps of Engineers' [official website] management of the Missouri River nor may the state's Attorney General force the Army Corps to stop drawing its Missouri River water releases from the bottom of Lake Sakakawea. In the 2003 lawsuit, North Dakota alleged the Army Corps was violating state water pollution laws by drawing too much cold water from Lake Sakakawea, but the court's decision said that North Dakota could not demand compliance with state water-quality standards. The court stated that "If we allowed North Dakota to enforce its water-quality standards on this basis, there is no discernible limit to the new structures, and new operational plans, that states with…(Missouri River) reservoirs could demand to force the corps to comply with their own water-quality standards." The court also found federal law mostly exempts the Army Corps from following the Clean Water Act [text] when its authority to manage Missouri River navigation is affected. AP has more.
In other state legal news …
- Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano has declared a state of emergency [declaration text, PDF] along Arizona's border with Mexico, freeing up $1.5 million in disaster funds [Governor's press release, PDF] which will be given to the state's four border counties. In explaining the decision, Napolitano criticized the federal government saying, "I've just come to the conclusion (that) we've got to do what we can at the state level until the federal government picks up the pace." The money will help border counties combat illegal immigration and drug smuggling by providing state money for a wide range of costs, from repairing border fences to paying local law enforcement workers overtime. Napolitano's announcement came three days after New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency [Governor's press release] along his state's border with Mexico and stated that the border "has been devastated by the ravages and terror of human smuggling, drug smuggling, kidnapping, murder, destruction of property and death of livestock…" The Arizona Republic has local coverage.
- The California 2nd District Court of Appeals has dismissed [PDF opinion] a lawsuit filed against the California State University System [official website], alleging that the university discriminated against Hispanics by considering SAT scores as an admissions factor and that the university discriminated against minorities by giving admissions preference to students who live near California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo. The plaintiff argued that a 2001 state law [text] prohibiting programs run or funded by the state from discriminating or denying equal access prohibited the university's policies, but the appeals court found a conflicting law which bars new regulations governing state agencies from applying to the Cal State system unless it is explicitly included. The 2001 state law made no specific mention of the Cal State system. AP has more.
- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld [PDF opinion] the use of roving driving under the influence stops by finding that the stops are not constitutionally unreasonable. The defendant, in appealing his conviction, claimed that the roving stops constitute unreasonable searches and that they undermine the validity of pre-announced roadblocks because the roving stops detect a higher percentage of violators per stop than checkpoints. In addition to finding the roving stops constitutional, the court found that the roving stops did not undermine the validity of checkpoints as the defendant "failed to show that the DUI roadblocks are so ineffective that they must be declared constitutionally unreasonable." One way that roving DUI patrols differ from checkpoints is that they rely in part on an officer's suspicion that the driver is under the influence. AP has more.