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Supreme Court hears arguments on religious rights, natural gas
Supreme Court hears arguments on religious rights, natural gas

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] in two cases Monday. In Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] the court heard arguments on whether the town of Gilbert’s content-based ordinance regarding city signs is content-neutral and not discriminatory. The case was brought by the Good News Community Church [church website], which claims that by requiring the removal of signs regarding worship services, the town has violated their First Amendment religious rights. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] in February 2013 in favor of the town’s ordinance, to the surprise of many legal experts who predict the case weighs against the ordinance.

In Oneok, Inc. v. Learjet, Inc. [transcript, PDF] the court will determine whether the Natural Gas Act (NGA) [text] preempts state laws that affect wholesale natural gas when those claims are brought by litigants who purchased gas in retail transactions. The case was brought by Learjet, Inc. and other retail buyers of natural gas against Oneok, Inc. [corporate websites] and other energy companies claiming that they artificially raised energy prices during the 2000-2002 energy crisis which violated state anti-trust laws. The Ninth Circuit reversed [opinion, PDF] the district court’s ruling that the state laws were preempted by the NGA since Oneok’s actions affected both wholesale and retail prices. The court in reversing reasoned that since Learjet suffered harm in retail transactions, which the NGA does not regulate, the laws were preempted.