For Immediate Release
August 17, 1999
Ken Weine, 212 998–6736
Citizen Coalition Appeals Ruling on Louisiana Supreme court’s Law Clinic Restrictions
Motion to appeal filed today at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Responding to last month’s federal district court’s ruling – which dismissed the lawsuit of 21 community organizations and individuals against the Louisiana Supreme Court, for the Court’s highly controversial restrictions on student law clinics – the Brennan Center for Justice and local counsel today appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.
“One of the most glaring weaknesses in the district court’s decision,” according to Brennan Center Deputy Director David S. Udell, “is the cynical observation that “one cannot claim complete surprise” if the Supreme Court justices act in response to political pressure, since they are elected. Louisiana’s Supreme Court Justices are required to safeguard constitutional rights and uphold the law, whether the Justices are elected or not.” Udell stated, “We will continue to argue that it is unconstitutional for the Louisiana Supreme Court to impose requirements on law clinics that are intended to silence the clinics and their clients.”
On July 27 District Judge Eldon Fallon granted the motion of the Louisiana Supreme Court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by a coalition of community activists, students, and law professors over the Court’s amendments to Rule XX, which severely restrict the work of several environmental law clinics. Although recognizing “the close temporal relationship between the business community’s expression of outrage and subsequent changes” to the rules governing the clinics, Judge Fallon ruled that the plaintiffs “may well [have raised] an issue in need of closer examination and debate, but the forum for addressing such questions is more properly a political, not a judicial, one.”
For additional information on the lawsuit – Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Louisiana Chapter v. Louisiana Supreme Court – contact Ken Weine.