The 2019-20 U.S. Supreme Court term in review
Small business owners throughout the United States prevail over any number of challenges every day, and a single law, ruling or regulation can derail their small business passion. On behalf of the rights of small business owners everywhere, the NFIB Small Business Legal Center serves as the voice of small business in the courts, at all levels. Decisions made in the nation’s highest court can have tremendous influence on America’s small business economy. As in many years past, the NFIB Legal Center stood up for the needs of small businesses during the 2019-2020 U.S. Supreme Court term and submitted arguments in three important cases.
“The NFIB Small Business Legal Center protects the rights of small business owners in the nation’s courts and we applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in two of three key cases considered during the 2019-20 term,” said Karen Harned, Executive Director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center. “Small businesses and all Americans are winners with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Seila Law LLC, v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as Comcast Corp. v. The National Association of African American-Owned Media, And Entertainment Studios Networks, Inc.”
- Seila Law LLC, v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: NFIB filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that the CFPB is unconstitutional in its current form. NFIB argued the CFPB does not include the types of structural protections that other independent agencies have had, and this significantly undermines individual liberty in contravention of the Constitution. The director of the CFPB cannot be fired by the president. And unlike other independent agencies, the CFPB does not require a certain number of seats to be filled by individuals from various parties to moderate the agencies’ conduct. In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the CFPB structure with an unchecked, single unaccountable director. Read our news release commending this decision.
- Comcast Corp. v. The National Association of African American-Owned Media, and Entertainment Studios Networks, Inc.: NFIB filed an amicus brief and argued that a plaintiff should have to show that racial discrimination was the actual cause of harm, rather than relying on a mixed-motive claim that offers several possible reasons for the defendant’s decision. In this case, the Court of Appeals ruled that a discrimination case should be allowed to move forward to a jury trial on the view that race might have been one of several motivating factors in a Comcast contract decision. In March 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the wrong standard for proving illegal discrimination. Read our news release commending this decision.
- Hawaii Wildlife Fund v. County Of Maui: NFIB filed an amicus brief arguing that the Clean Water Act regulation should apply only when it concerns interstate commerce. NFIB argued that the Clean Water Act should not be interpreted so expansively, and maintains that the statutory provisions in question should be narrowly construed to avoid creating serious constitutional problems, because an overly expansive interpretation would stretch the limits of federal power to cover lands that have no connection to interstate commerce. The Supreme Court’s ruling allowed expansion of the reach of the Clean Water Act in a manner that is profoundly concerning for the rights of small business owners, whose land is often one of their most valuable assets.
Looking ahead to the Supreme Court term beginning in October, the NFIB Small Business Legal Center’s work as the voice of small business continues.
- Last month, the Legal Center filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case CIC Services LLC, v. IRS, arguing that taxpayers should be able to challenge illegal Internal Revenue Service regulations before paying tax penalties. Read more about our amicus brief in this case here.
- This week in the nation’s highest court, the Legal Center filed an amicus brief in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club, arguing that the public interest in disclosure outweighs any governmental secrecy interest. Government regulations and red tape are consistently cited as one of the top problems small business owners face. Transparency is key to holding federal agencies accountable and ensuring that regulations are fairly developed. Read more.
The NFIB Small Business Legal Center is the voice for small business in the nation’s courts and the legal resource for small business owners nationwide. NFIB is currently active in more than 40 cases in federal and state courts across the country and in the U.S. Supreme Court. Learn more.