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SCOTUS: Saving Civil Liberties or Barely Bothering?

Mark Chenoweth, NCLA Executive Director and General Counsel, moderates a discussion with Richard Samp, NCLA Senior Litigation Counsel, and Nick Reaves, Becket Fund’s Litigation Counsel, who was part of the legal team that secured a unanimous victory in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.

They address the term that just concluded at the U.S. Supreme Court in which NCLA had a perfect record of amicus wins against administrative abuse of power. The Justices seemingly took steps to preserve our most basic freedoms from abusive predation by the too-powerful Administrative State, but did the Court do enough?

In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the Court defended the free exercise clause of the First Amendment from an agency targeting Catholic Social Services, but it stopped short of overturning Employment Division v. Smith.

In Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta, the Supreme Court again defended the First Amendment, and this time it was the freedom of association under attack by the government. But rather than call out any such dragnet information-collection regimes, the Court seemed to suggest other schemes might pass constitutional muster.

In AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission, the Court unanimously ruled that when a statute says an agency may seek a “permanent injunction” that does not give the agency free rein to collect monetary damages, restitution, or disgorgement of funds. A victory to be sure, but FTC already seems to be dodging the impact of the ruling.