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UC Davis Faculty Sources Available on Cases Before the Supreme Court

By Karen Nikos-Rose on March 14, 2018 in Society, Arts & Culture

From cases about bakery owners’ rights to immigrants’ and employees’ rights, UC Davis faculty from the School of Law offer expertise on legal issues pending before the U.S. Supreme Court this session.

The First Amendment

Alan Brownstein, a professor of law and constitutional scholar, is watching Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The lawsuit questions whether Colorado’s public accommodations law — which prohibits covered persons from withholding goods, services, or facilities from an individual or group based on, among other things, sexual orientation — violates the First Amendment when it is applied against someone who refuses to create custom wedding cakes for same-sex wedding celebrations because doing so would violate the baker’s sincerely held religious beliefs. More information in this Verdict blogpost co-authored by Brownstein. Contact:, 530-752-2586.


Dean and Professor Kevin Johnson is watching immigration cases. In a preview of Sessions v. Dimaya at SCOTUSblog, Johnson wrote: “Recent years have seen the Supreme Court regularly review criminal immigration cases. That should be no surprise in light of the fact the immigration courts have relied on criminal-removal grounds to remove hundreds of thousands of noncitizens annually from the United States.” Contact: Kelley Weiss,,530-754-7173.


Professor Christopher S. Elmendorf wrote and submitted an amicus brief on behalf of political scientist Eric McGhee, of the Public Policy Institute of California, in Gill v. Whitford. The brief, filed in support of neither party, explains the measure of partisan bias developed by McGhee and relied upon by the lower court in finding that Wisconsin’s map of state legislative districts was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The district court’s ruling was the first in 30 years to strike down a map of legislative districts as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. More in this post co-authored by Elmendorf at Election Law Blog. Contact:, 530-752-5756.

Federal employment law: Discrimination based on sexual orientation

Professor Brian Soucek filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that it should agree to hear Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, a case that asks whether federal employment discrimination law protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation. More information from the School of Law. Contact:, 530-752-4932.

Human rights

William S. Dodge, professor of law, filed an amicus brief on behalf of international law scholars in Jesner v. Arab Bank LLC (No. 16-499). The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that corporations could not be held liable for violations of human rights in suits brought under the Alien Tort Statute because customary international law does not recognize a norm of corporate liability. The brief argues that the 2nd Circuit fundamentally misunderstood how international law works. Because customary international law establishes norms of conduct but leaves the enforcement of those norms to states, it makes no sense to ask whether there is a general norm of corporate liability in international law. Nor are limitations on enforcement mechanisms, like international criminal tribunals, limitations on the underlying norms. More information from the School of Law and this Just Security blogpost by Dodge. Contact:, 530-752-1910.

Media contact(s)

Kelley Weiss, UC Davis School of Law, 530-754-7173,

Karen Nikos-Rose, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-219-5472,

Media Resources