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McBrayer Blogs

Showing 4 posts from August 2015.

Where the First Amendment and Land Use Meet: Planet Aid v. City of St. Johns

Generally speaking, land use regulations and zoning laws arise from practical and aesthetic concerns and considerations, and are driven by state and local law. However, sometimes a community’s desire to regulate a seemingly minor issue can implicate our most fundamental rights under the Constitution. Last month, we discussed the Supreme Court’s decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, which involved an analysis of the First Amendment’s applicability to local sign ordinances. Finding that restricting signage based on the content of the sign was impermissible under the First Amendment, the Supreme Court struck down Gilbert’s ordinance. Commentators have since described this as the “sleeper case” of the Supreme Court’s term, representing a substantial shift in First Amendment jurisprudence. The case has since been used to justify striking down local and state bans on political “robocalls” and panhandling, and could possibly extend to call in to question laws aimed at consumer protection and securities law. Indeed, Reed and the reaches of the First Amendment are currently in the forefront of controversies involving everything from soda labelling, to the rights of topless performers operating in Times Square. More >

Debtors May Want To Take It All Off, But The Supreme Court Says Junior Liens Can’t Be Stripped

Posted In Mortgage

It’s not an uncommon sight, especially in light of the burst of the housing bubble in recent years: a debtor in bankruptcy has two mortgages on a property with a fair market value of less than the amount of the senior mortgage. The junior mortgage lien is then wholly underwater, so that creditor would receive nothing from the sale of the property. The question then becomes, can the debtor void those liens in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding? The Supreme Court, in an increasingly rare show of unanimity, said “No.” More >

Public Improvement Liens on Government-Owned Projects

While prior blog posts have discussed the basics of mechanics liens as they relate to private construction projects, this post addresses public improvement liens on property owned by the state, a subdivision or agency thereof, or by any city, county, urban-county, or charter county government (hereafter collectively “Government Entity”).[1] As one may imagine, while the principle purpose behind the filing of public improvement liens and private mechanics liens is the same (i.e. to ensure payment for labor, materials and/or supplies furnished on the project), perfection and enforcement of public improvement liens on property owned by a Government Entity differs significantly from the perfection and enforcement of mechanic’s liens against privately owned property. More >

Disparate Impact Claims Fair Game under the Fair Housing Act

The United States Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision in June, brought housing discrimination law ever-so-slightly more in line with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) by holding that claims of disparate impact are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). The court took great pains, however, to limit the impact of the holding as well as putting a substantial onus on a plaintiff to prove causal connections between challenged policies and alleged disparities. More >

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