The Legal Affairs Committee (LAC) advises the National Governors Association (NGA) Executive Committee on whether NGA should participate as amicus curiae in cases of broad interest to Governors and states before the U.S. Supreme Court, federal appellate courts, and state supreme courts.
2018–19 Committee Leadership
Legal Affairs Committee Policy
Well-informed judicial interpretations of state and federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution are critical for carrying out the intentions of elected officials and for defining the roles of state and federal government. In recognition of this, Governors formed the Legal Affairs Committee (LAC) to advise the Executive Committee on whether NGA should participate as amicus curiae in cases of broad interest to Governors and states before the U.S. Supreme Court, federal appellate courts, and state supreme courts. Governors also helped establish the State and Local Legal Center to present the views of state and local governments on cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
To ensure that Governors’ collective voice is heard on critical issues before the courts, the LAC has the authority to work through the State and Local Legal Center to commit NGA to participate as amicus curiae on cases to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court. The LAC is to review and advise the Executive Committee on all other requests for NGA to participate as amicus curiae in petitions for certiorari to or cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and in cases to be heard at the federal appellate court or state supreme court levels.
State and Local Legal Center
The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) helps state and local governments establish an effective presence before the United States Supreme Court. In its almost 30 year history, SLLC has filed more than 300 “friend-of-the-court” briefs in the Supreme Court in key cases that raise important questions on federalism and other constitutional matters for state and local governments.
The SLLC was founded in 1983 by seven national organizations representing state and local elected and appointed officials, which include the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, The Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the International City/County Management Association. These organizations oversee the SLLC and are responsible for its operations.
For more information, visit the SLLC website at http://www.statelocallc.org/
- DirecTV, Inc. v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Revenue (No. SJC-11658) (2014). NGA filed an amicus brief in support of the Commonwealth in this dormant Commerce Clause matter before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The legal issue centers on the constitutionality of the Commonwealth’s imposition of a five percent sales tax on satellite television services. NGA argues in its amicus brief that Petitioner’s position runs counter to the Commerce Clause’s protection of interstate markets, not interstate products sold by interstate businesses operating within those markets. Upholding Petitioner’s position would call into question the ability of states to raise revenues and promote the general welfare. The Court heard oral arguments on November 4, 2014.
- Direct Marketing Ass’n. v. Brohl, Colorado Dept. of Revenue (No. 13-1032). NGA joined the SLLC’s amicus brief in support of the Respondent in this jurisdictional matter. The case facts involve a Colorado sales tax law applied to remote sellers but, the Court will not consider the constitutional merits of that law. Rather, the Court will consider whether the federal Tax Injunction Act, 28 U.S.C. §1341 bars federal court jurisdiction over a suit by non-taxpayers to enjoin the notice-and-reporting requirements of a state law that neither imposes a tax, nor requires collection of a tax, but serves only a secondary aspect of state tax administration. The Supreme Court will issue an opinion in this case by June 30, 2015.
- Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation, Inc. (No. 13-553). NGA joined the SLLC’s amicus brief in support of the Petitioner in this tax matter. Specifically, the Court will decide whether a State discriminates against a rail carrier, in violation of the federal Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, 49 U.S.C. §11501(b)(4), when a State generally requires commercial and industrial businesses, including rail carriers, to pay sales and use taxes but grants exemptions to the railroads’ competitors. The Court also will consider whether a court should consider other aspects of a state’s tax scheme rather than focusing solely on the challenged tax provision. The Supreme Court will issue an opinion in this case by June 30, 2015.
- North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission (No. 13-534). NGA joined the SLLC’s amicus brief in support of the Petitioner in this antitrust matter. The Court will consider whether the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners engaged in anti-competitive behavior that was not exempt from federal antitrust laws under the State Action doctrine by successfully excluding non-dental competitors from offering certain cosmetic services in the state. Oral argument was on October 14, 2014. The Supreme Court will issue an opinion in this case by June 30, 2015.
- Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, Inc. (No. 14-15). NGA joined with the Council of State Governments in filing an amicus brief in support of Petitioner, Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare, in this Supremacy Clause matter. This case will address the legal question of whether the Supremacy Clause gives Medicaid providers a private right of action against a state to enforce §1396(a)(30)(A) of the federal Medicaid Act. Since Congress has chosen not to create enforceable rights under the statute. The Court left this question unanswered in its 2011 decision in Douglas v. Independent Living Ctr. of So. Calif., 132 S. Ct 1204 (2012).The Supreme Court will issue an opinion in this case by June 30, 2015.