The Cato Institute, a Washington-based public policy think tank, played an important role in several of the Supreme Court's most important decisions this term by filing several amicus briefs.
Amicus curiae briefs are often filed by someone who is not a party in the case but who has a vested interest in the outcome. Cato's filings came out on the winning side in 15 of the 18 briefs the organization contributed.
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"One never knows how much influence an amicus brief may have on the outcome of a case but the cumulative effect of our briefs cannot be but noticed by the justices and, especially, by their clerks, who play so crucial a role in assisting the justices with their work and then go out, after their clerkships are concluded, to teach or practice before the Court themselves," Cato said in a press release. "This is all part of our effort at Cato to change the climate of ideas, especially in the narrower confines of constitutional law, to one that is more conducive to restoring limited constitutional government."
Here are some examples of the cases that Cato contributed amicus briefs to, along with the court's final decisions:
United States v. Windsor: The federal government cannot treat
legally married same-sex couples differently from legally married opposite-sex couples. (DOMA Section 3 struck down.)
Shelby County v. Holder: The federal government cannot subject
state/local election laws to extra-constitutional supervision based on 40-year-old data relating to racial disparities. (Voting Rights Act Section
4 struck down.)
Bailey v. United States: When police execute a search warrant, they
cannot detain people outside the immediate vicinity of the place to be search without independent probable cause.
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States: Damage caused by
the government's temporary flooding of land is subject to potential liability under the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause.
Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District: The government
cannot condition the approval of a land-use permit on an owner's relinquishing a portion of his property unless there's a nexus and rough proportionality between the government demand and the effects of the proposed land use.
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AID v AOSI: The government cannot require contractors to promote
policies that are unrelated to the program for which they receive government funds.
Gabelli v. SEC: Given its extensive investigative tools, the SEC
must bring fraud claims against investment advisers within the standard five-year statute of limitations, which begins to tick when the fraud allegedly occurred, not when it was discovered.
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