Lieff Cabraser’s Amicus Work
An amicus curiae is someone who is not a party to a case who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case. The decision on whether to consider an amicus brief lies within the discretion of the court. The phrase amicus curiae is legal Latin. –Wikipedia
Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Rodriquez
In March 2021, Lieff Cabraser filed an amicus brief spearheaded by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra (now Rodriquez) before the Supreme Court. The topic was “dark money,” and the specific law at issue was California’s requirement that non-profits confidentially disclose to the state their largest donors (just as they do to the IRS) in order to legally operate in California. The challenge before the Court is the latest move in a campaign by powerful special interests to cement their influence over government following the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The senators involved in the brief warn that siding with the wealthy special interests that propelled the case to the Court would permit dark money’s smothering influence over American democracy to grow. The senators urge the Court to uphold the limited nonprofit disclosure requirements at issue in the case and to help check the decline in Americans’ confidence in their government.
Former President Emoluments Case
Lieff Cabraser filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the petition for a writ of certiorari in Blumenthal et al. v. Trump — an action brought by Democratic members of the House and Senate alleging that President Trump violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause. The amicus brief, filed on behalf of sixteen scholars of standing, federal jurisdiction, and constitutional law, argued that the Democratic lawmakers had standing to pursue their claims for a violation of their rights, under the Emoluments Clause, to approve or withhold consent before the President accepted payment and benefits from foreign governments while in office.
Department of Education CARES Act Fund Misallocation Lawsuit
On September 4, 2020, United States District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich issued an Order granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed on behalf of public school students from California, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia challenging an unlawful restriction imposed by US Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos on over $16 billion in funds that Congress allocated to schools under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES”) Act.
The Court found the Department of Education’s Interim Final Rule (forcing school districts to divert funds from low income students and public schools towards private schools) to be in direct contravention of the express textual mandate of Congress, as expressed in the CARES Act. Judge Friedrich’s Opinion noted that, “Because of this unlawful rule, public schools would have received insufficient funding to reopen safely or to provide remote learning for their students, jeopardizing the health and education of countless children.”
Earlier, on August 28, 2020, Lieff Cabraser filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff schools and students. Attorney Christopher Jordan, who spearheaded the firm’s effort, said “It was an honor to represent our amici school districts, both urban and rural, large and small, and the 350,000 students they serve in this crucial case. We are excited to know that school districts will receive the federal aid under the CARES Act they are lawfully entitled to and we hope this decision helps schools reopen safely and carry out their important goal of educating our youth.”
“We are very happy that in vacating the Department of Education’s rule, the Court has ensured that millions of low-income students and public schools will get the resources and support they need,” adds Lieff Cabraser associate Kartik S. Madiraju, who drafted and shepherded the brief through to filing. “This ruling is based on the clear textual mandate of Congress, and gives effect to the intent of our elected representatives.”
Reproductive Rights in Louisiana
In December 2019, Lieff Cabraser filed an amicus brief on behalf of reproductive and racial justice scholars in support of June Medical Services’ challenge to Louisiana’s 2014 Act 620 placing draconian burdens on access to abortion for Louisiana women of color. Ultimately, under Act 620, only a single clinic would be allowed to remain open to provide services for the 10,000+ women seeking safe abortions in Louisiana every year.
Improper Restrictions on Entering the U.S.
On February 16, 2017, Lieff Cabraser filed an amicus brief on behalf of Public Justice and the Impact Fund in Darweesh, et al. v. Trump, et al. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in support of the current stay on President Trump’s January 27, 2017 Executive Order restricting entry to the United States. Darweesh was brought by individuals who had been approved for entry into the U.S. (including for refugee status) but were detained at the border as a result of President Trump’s Order. The lead plaintiff is a man who served as an interpreter for the U.S. Army for 10 years, starting during the 2003 war in Iraq, and who — with his family — had been subjected to death threats as a result. Darweesh was the first case in which a judge issued a stay on the travel ban, and is different from the recent Seattle immigration case where a stay on President Trump’s ban was upheld by the Ninth Circuit because Darweesh is a class action filed on behalf of the affected individuals, while the Ninth Circuit Seattle case was brought by States.
CARES Act Eligibility Discrimination
Lieff Cabraser drafted the brief in support of dozens of California community colleges representing nearly 350,000 students seeking to stop the US Department of Education from imposing illegal eligibility requirements in efforts to prevent undocumented students from receiving Congressionally-directed CARES Act support.
Supporting Marriage Equality
Lieff Cabraser took an active role in support of marriage equality in California and nationwide. On March 5, 2015, Lieff Cabraser joined 378 businesses to ask the United States Supreme Court to strike down state law bans on same-sex marriage in connection with the pending case, Obergefell v. Hodges. On Friday, June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court made history in Obergefell by ruling that the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of same-sex couples to become legally married everywhere in the country.
Lieff Cabraser previously participated as an amicus party in the similar employer brief filed in the 2013 landmark United States Supreme Court case, United States v. Windsor (the challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act), and served as amici counsel in connection with the 2013 United States Supreme Court case challenging California’s Proposition 8, Perry v. Hollingsworth. Earlier, before the California Supreme Court in Strauss v. Horton, 46 Cal. 4th 364 (2008), Lieff Cabraser served as Amici Curiae counsel for forty bar and legal advocacy non-profit organizations throughout California and nationwide. Amici Curiae argued that Proposition 8’s denial of equal protection to a class of individuals with respect to a fundamental right violated the California Constitution.
Racial Employment Discrimination
In 2008, Lieff Cabraser served as counsel for Amici Curiae the National Employment Lawyers Association and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Right Under Law before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in support of former African- American employees of Johnson & Johnson who alleged they were discriminated on the basis of their race. Gutierrez v. Johnson & Johnson, 523 F.3d 187 (3rd Cir. 2008).
International Human Rights Work
Holocaust Cases. Lieff Cabraser was one of the leading firms that prosecuted claims by Holocaust survivors and the heirs of Holocaust survivors and victims against banks and private manufacturers and other corporations who enslaved and/or looted the assets of Jews and other minority groups persecuted by the Nazi Regime during the Second World War era. The firm served as Settlement Class Counsel in the case against the Swiss banks for which the Court approved a U.S. $1.25 billion settlement in July 2000. Lieff Cabraser donated its attorneys’ fees in the Swiss Banks case, in the amount of $1.5 million, to endow a Human Rights clinical chair at Columbia University Law School. The firm was also active in slave labor and property litigation against German and Austrian defendants, and Nazi-era banking litigation against French banks. In connection therewith, Lieff Cabraser participated in multi-national negotiations that led to Executive Agreements establishing an additional approximately U.S. $5 billion in funds for survivors and victims of Nazi persecution.