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Amicus Curiae Actions

What is an amicus curiae brief?
An amicus brief is a legal document filed by someone who is not a party to the original litigation and is intended to educate the court. It provides additional relevant information or legal argument in support of a position or outcome sought by a party to the legal action.

Who can submit an amicus curiae brief?
An amicus brief can be submitted or signed onto by any person or organization that is or may be affected by the outcome of the case. The City of San Diego signs onto amicus briefs after determining that the City’s residents are impacted by the litigation.

2021

  • Providing Safe Injection Sites to Preserve the Public Health

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  March 2, 2021

    Votes:  D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D7, D8, D9 aye; D6 absent

    Case Name: PDF icon United States v. Safehouse

    Facts: The City joined an amicus in support of the use of safe injections sites as a public health tool to help reduce drug overdoses. Safe injection sites offer a safe and sanitary place for individuals to self-administer drugs and are staffed with medical professionals to intervene during accidental overdoses. They have been used successfully in several other countries, including Canada and Australia. This amicus brief supported a nonprofit, Safehouse, in its effort to open the first site of its kind in the United States. Several other locales across the country, including San Francisco, New York City, and Seattle, also signed onto the amicus brief.

    Disposition: On March 24, 2021, the Third Circuit denied Safehouse’s petition for rehearing en banc. Three judges dissented. The case is ongoing.

     

  • Supporting Temporary Protected Status recipients to obtain Lawful Permanent Residency

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  Feb. 23, 2021

    Votes:  D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D7, D8, D9 aye; D6 absent

    Case Name: PDF icon Sanchez v. Mayorkas

    Facts: The City joined an amicus brief arguing that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients are eligible to adjust their status to lawful permanent residency, because the conferral of TPS constitutes an admission into the United States. TPS provides protection from removal for persons from designated countries suffering humanitarian crises and grants them lawful status as well as employment authorization, without leaving the United States and returning to the unsafe country conditions they fled.

    Disposition:  On January 8, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States granted Plaintiffs’ petition for a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Oral arguments before the Supreme Court is set on April 19, 2021. The case is ongoing.

2020

  • Protecting CARES Act Payments for U.S. Citizen Children of Undocumented Immigrants

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  Dec. 15, 2020

    Votes:  D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D7, D8, D9 aye; D6 absent

    Case Name:  PDF icon R.V. v. Mnuchin

    Facts:  The City joined an amicus brief arguing that U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants were eligible for CARES Act funding. Seven U.S. citizen children and their parents, one or both of which is an undocumented immigrant, filed suit in the District of Maryland challenging the denial of stimulus payments distributed under the CARES Act to U.S. citizen children solely based on their parents’ undocumented status. Plaintiffs argued that the exclusion of these children violates the Fifth Amendment

    Disposition:  On May 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing because qualifying children are not entitled to the tax credit. The motion was denied on June 19, 2020. A motion for summary judgment was filed by the plaintiffs on Dec. 17, 2020. The case is ongoing.

     

  • Protecting the Affordable Care Act

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  April 21, 2020

    Votes:  D1, D2, D3, D4, D8, D9 aye; D7 nay; D5, D6 absent

    Case Name:  PDF icon State of California v. State of Texas

    Facts:  This case addresses the constitutionality of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), and one of its provisions, the "individual mandate,” which created a tax penalty for Americans who do not purchase health insurance. In 2017 President Donald Trump’s administration eliminated the individual mandate. Lower courts found that this individual mandate was a critical provision of the ACA and, without it, some or all of the ACA was potentially unconstitutional. In April 2020 the City joined as an amicus participant in litigation along with the U.S. House of Representatives, State of California, and other states, which successfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision

    Disposition:  Oral arguments were heard by the Supreme Court on Nov. 10, 2020. The case is ongoing.

     

2019

  • Correcting Interpretation of the California Labor Code

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  Nov. 5, 2019

    Votes: D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D7, D8, D9 aye

    Case Name:  PDF icon Sturtevant Farms and State Compensation Insurance Fund v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board

    Facts:  In 2013 a Sturtevant Farms employee, Javier Lopez, injured his back in a fall from a ladder while picking avocados. Lopez had suffered two back injuries on the job, and a dispute arose over whether the California Labor Code allowed more than 100 percent disability for a body region.

    In November 2019 the City sent an amicus letter in support of the State Compensation Insurance Fund, which was requesting California Supreme Court review of a decision from the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board regarding the proper interpretation of a section of the California Labor Code. In its amicus letter, the City opined that its employees need certainty in the amount of permanent disability allowed when employees have multiple Workers’ Compensation claims related to the same body area. The question, specifically, is whether an injured worker can collect more than 100 percent permanent disability for a body region over his/her lifetime.

    Disposition:  The Petition for Review was denied on Nov. 13, 2019.

     

  • Opposing Sexual Orientation and Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  June 25, 2019

    Votes:  D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D9 aye; D7 nay; D6, D8 absent

    Case Name:  PDF icon Bostock v. Clayton County (consolidated with Altitude Express, Inc. v. Melissa Zarda, and E.E.O.C. v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc.)

    Facts:  In 2016 a man filed suit against his employer, the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, claiming his employer had violated Title VII by discriminating against him on the basis of sexual orientation. In June 2019 the City joined an amicus brief supporting the position that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected under Title VII, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Disposition:  On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision upholding the rights of LGBTQ workers. In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that Title VII protections do extend to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

    On Jan. 20, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order directing all federal agencies to implement the Supreme Court’s June 2020 decision, which established that LGBTQ people are protected from employment discrimination under Title VII. The order also directs any federal agency with protections against discrimination based on sex to interpret those statutes to also protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

     

  • Preserving the Temporary Protected Status Program

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  June 12, 2019

    Votes:  D1, D3, D4, D8, D9 aye; D7 nay; D2, D5, D6 absent

    Case Name:  PDF icon Crista Ramos v. Kirstjen Nielsen

    Facts:  In June 2018 the City joined amicus briefs in several lawsuits challenging the federal government’s January 2018 decision to end special protections under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. The TPS program protects immigrants from specific countries from deportation or removal, and grants them employment authorization, based on the finding that due to war, epidemic, or natural disaster, those immigrants are unable to return safely to their home country. Immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, and other countries were removed from TPS designation.

    Disposition:  On Sept. 14, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found the district court did not have jurisdiction because the TPS statute itself states that the Secretary of Homeland Security possesses full and unreviewable discretion in designating foreign states under the statute. The Ninth Circuit also found that there was not sufficient likelihood that the plaintiffs would succeed on the merits of their claims, as they did not provide adequate evidence linking President Trump's statements about other countries to the DHS Secretaries' TPS decision-making. The case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings. The case is ongoing.

2018

  • Supporting the California Values Act

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  May 15, 2018

    Votes:  D1, D3, D4, D8, D9 aye; D2, D5 nay; D6, D7 absent

    Case Name:  PDF icon United States v. State of California

    Facts:   After California jurisdictions filed a series of lawsuits challenging the Trump Administration’s “sanctuary city” policies (which denied federal funding to jurisdictions that impeded the federal government's immigration policies) the Trump Administration filed its own suit in March 2018 challenging the California Values Act. That law restricts state and local law enforcement agencies and private employers from sharing with federal agencies information about undocumented immigrants. In May 2018 the City joined an amicus brief in support of the California Values Act.

    Disposition:  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that California has the right to refrain from assisting with federal immigration enforcement efforts. The federal government appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which announced on June 15, 2020, that it would not review the case, thereby leaving the California Values Act in place.

     

  • Retaining Pre-Redevelopment Agency Dissolution Payments

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  Feb. 13, 2018

    Votes:  D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D8, D9 aye; D7 absent

    Case Name:  PDF icon City of Grass Valley v. Michael Cohen

    Facts:  In February 2018 the City submitted an amicus letter in support of the City of Grass Valley’s challenge to an appellate court decision regarding the authority of the California Department of Finance (DOF) to claw back from Grass Valley certain pre-redevelopment agency dissolution payments totaling approximately $1 million. The DOF maintained its action was appropriate under the laws that eliminated redevelopment agencies throughout California in 2012.

    Disposition:  The Petition for Review was denied by the Supreme Court of California on March 14, 2018.

2017

  • Defending the DACA Program

    In 2017, the City joined three amicus briefs regarding federal actions to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). The program, introduced in 2012, has shielded from deportation thousands of people who came to the country as young children.

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  Dec. 13, 2017

    Votes:  D1, D3, D4, D8, D9 aye; D7 nay; D2, D5, D6 absent

    • Protecting DACA and Defending Equal Protection and Due Process

      Case Name:  PDF icon State of New York v. Donald Trump

      Facts:  In this case, the State of New York and other states filed an action for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that a September 2017 U.S. Department of Homeland Security memorandum rescinding DACA violates the U.S. Constitution by violating the equal protection and due process clauses.

    • Establishing the Lawfulness of the DACA Program

      Case Name:  PDF icon The Trustees of Princeton University v. United States of America

      Facts:  In this case, plaintiffs filed an action for declaratory and injunctive relief to prohibit the federal government’s attempt to rescind DACA, and to obtain a declaration that the DACA program was lawful initially and remains lawful today.

      Disposition:  In June 2020 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that DACA should be kept in place because the Trump Administration failed to follow federal rule-making guidelines in undoing it. In July 2020 Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf issued a memo stating he would reconsider DACA’s future in light of the Supreme Court decision, and instructing that all initial requests for DACA be rejected in the interim. The plaintiffs in the Vidal and New York cases challenged the memo, arguing that Wolf was not lawfully appointed to his position and did not have authority to issue the memo; both parties filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted on  Nov. 4, 2020, and the court subsequently ordered the Department of Homeland Security to resume processing DACA applications on Dec. 4, 2020.

      In January 2021 President Joseph Biden ordered his Cabinet to work to preserve the DACA program, and sent a legislative package to Congress calling for the adoption of legislation giving DACA recipients permanent legal status and a path to citizenship.

 

  • Opposing Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  Oct. 17, 2017

    Votes:  D1, D2, D3, D4, D8, D9 aye; D7 nay; D5, D6 absent

    Case Name:  PDF icon Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

    Facts:  In October 2017 the City joined an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the State of Colorado, in the case of a bakery which sued the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The Commission had found the bakery violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples. The bakery owner argued that the Commission violated his First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and free speech.
     
    Disposition:  On June 4, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a reversal of the decision made by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The opinion stated that although a baker had a right to the free exercise of his religion, the Commission’s decision displayed hostility toward the baker’s religious views, in violation of the state’s obligation to remain neutral under the First Amendment, which provides for free exercise of religion.

 

  • Supporting the Rights of Transgender Students

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  Feb. 27, 2017

    Votes: D1, D3, D4, D8, D9 aye; D7 nay; D2, D5, D6 absent

    Case Name:  PDF icon Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., a minor

    Facts:  In June 2015 Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old transgender boy, sued his school district, seeking permission to use the boys' restroom at school and claiming that the school board's policy of requiring transgender students to use a private restroom facility violated his rights under Title IX and the Fourteenth Amendment. Grimm alleged that after he had used the boys' restroom with the school's permission for seven weeks without incident, the school board adopted a policy stating that “the use of . . . facilities shall be limited to the corresponding biological genders (of students), and students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative appropriate facility.”

    In February 2017 the City joined an amicus brief in support of the constitutional rights of transgender students.

    Disposition:  In August 2019 the court granted Grimm’s motion for summary judgment. The court found that Grimm had been excluded from participation in an education program because of his sex, and the improper discrimination caused him harm. The school district appealed, and the case is ongoing.

 

  • Challenging Restrictions on Non-Citizen Travel to the U.S. from Muslim Countries

    Date of Council Action Approving Amicus Participation:  Feb. 14, 2017

    Votes: D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D7, D8, D9 aye

    Case Name: PDF icon State of Washington v. Donald Trump

    Facts:  In February 2017 the City joined an amicus brief in support of a State of Washington lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s Executive Order restricting non-citizen travel to the United States from seven specified Muslim-majority nations.

    Disposition:  A less-strict version of the travel ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. On Jan. 20, 2021, President Joseph Biden signed an Executive Order ending the travel restrictions from the previously identified nations.