Southeastern Legal Foundation History – 1976-Present
2015 - Southeastern Legal Foundation filed two federal court challenges against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s so-called “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulations, which give the EPA nearly unfettered jurisdiction over all land in the U.S. Representing former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and other companies and organizations, SLF challenge ongoing executive overreach and seek to restore separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution. The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a stay on the regulations pending the outcome of jurisdictional questions. SLF wins a federal court decision against several federal agencies for failure to produce adequate records requested under the Freedom of Information Act, an important precedent for future government accountability litigation. SLF kicks off its Student Freedom and Safety Project to address civil rights issues facing Jewish and Christian students on American college campuses who are targeted by violent intimidation and harassment. In July, SLF announced the final settlement of its case involving Bundy Cobb, a Douglas County, Georgia vote, who was forbidden from voting unless he removed his hat, which has an “NRA Instructor” logo on it. As part of the settlement, the elections board adopted a formal policy forbidding poll workers and election officials from banning persons who display materials that are not directly related to candidates or issues on the ballot and the BOER issued a public apology letter to Mr. Cobb. During the litigation, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens issued an Opinion stating the statute prohibiting the display of campaign materials “only applies to written or printed material that concerns a campaign for a candidate or referendum being voted upon at the polling place.” Further, the Georgia General Assembly began consideration of Senate Bill 199, designed to define the term ‘campaign materials’ to protect Georgia voters from arbitrary decisions by local elections officials. SLF doubles its appearances in the U.S. Supreme Court as amicus, in key issues including illegal forced housing mandates, overzealous state licensing requirements for private industry, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), illegal government race-based hiring and promotion, and the National Park Service’s unprecedented claim of jurisdiction over state-owned property.
2014 - Southeastern Legal Foundation wins its landmark U.S. Supreme Court challenge against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, setting an historic precedent that will be used in future cases. The Court held that the Obama administration's EPA overreached executive authority and violated constitutional separation of powers in its global warming/climate change greenhouse gas emissions rules. SLF is preparing to participate in 4 new cases challenging EPA rulemaking, including actions involving the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. SLF wins its challenge against the City of McDonough, Georgia and its illegal development "impact fee" program. SLF filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Susan B. Anthony List supporting the freedom to publicly speak on political issues arising during elections. SLF filed a lawsuit against Douglas County, Georgia in federal court on behalf of Georgia voter Bundy Cobb, who was forced to remove his "NRA Instructor" hat in order to vote during the early voting period in the 2014 general election. Elections officials determined that his hat was politically offensive and constituted "electioneering," despite the fact that his hat did not reference the elections, a political party, or a candidate for office.
2013 - Southeastern Legal Foundation continues its multi-party, multi-claims federal court challenge against the Obama administration's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency global warming/climate change rules, focused on executive branch overreach in rewriting key provisions of the Clean Air Act without Congressional review and approval. SLF continues its lawsuit against a Georgia city, alleging the City violated state law and fundamental property rights by collecting an illegal development "impact fee" for construction projects during a self-imposed building moratorium. SLF filed a U.S. Supreme Court brief in the Shelby County, AL case challenging the reauthorization of Section V of the Voting Rights Act. SLF filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the Town of Greece on the ability of a deliberative body to open its meetings with a prayer or invocation. The Court decided in favor of the Town of Greece and established strong First Amendment freedom of religious expression precedent. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Abigail Fisher against the race-based admissions policies of the University of Texas at Austin, agreeing with SLF's amicus brief. SLF filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting petitioners' appeal against the taking of beverage distributors' property interests by federal and state regulators. SLF filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Minority TV in a First Amendment challenge seeking equal access to broadcast media.
2012 - Southeastern Legal Foundation continues its multi-party, multi-claims federal court challenge against the Obama administration's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency global warming/climate change rules, a trillion-dollar regime that was not approved by Congress under the Clean Air Act. SLF represents the Lancaster School of Cosmetology before the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission, defending it against a claim of discrimination because the school mandates English in the classrooms. SLF appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of beachfront property owners in Destin, Florida based on failure of the City government and Sheriff's Department to enforce trespass laws. SLF filed two actions in Florida, challenging the qualifications of three state Supreme Court Justices who failed to meet the statutory and constitutional qualifying requirements to be on the 2012 general election ballot. SLF appeared in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a challenge against a first-in-history double taxation by the Obama administration's Internal Revenue Service, a case that will be heard in 2013. Section V of the Voting Rights Act is under scrutiny again, as SLF agrees to appear on behalf of Shelby County, Alabama in a challenge against ongoing enforcement despite of lack of any evidence of voter intimidation or interference. SLF joined a U.S. Supreme Court challenge against the EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CASPR) as arbitrary and capricious - and the Supreme Court agreed, throwing out the EPA CASPR rule. SLF joins the U.S. Supreme Court challenge on behalf of Abigail Fisher in a constitutional challenge against school admissions policies at the University of Texas at Austin. A decision on this case is expected in 2013.
2011 - In its multi-front court and administrative challenge against the Obama administration's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency global warming/climate change so-called "Endangerment Finding," Southeastern Legal Foundation works through multiple issues under the Clean Air Act, including carbon emission requirements, the so-called "Tailoring Rule," and other key issues surrounding the EPA's use of flawed and fraudulent science to enact a $1 trillion energy taxation plan that will cost by many estimates as many as 4 million U.S. jobs. With several top scientific advisors and an experienced legal team, SLF is working with multiple organizations and states to challenge the EPA regulations, which were enacted under the Clean Air Act without congressional review and approval. In August, SLF filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a flawed decision by the Alabama Supreme Court upholding the denial of access to court to challenge the state's use of multiple languages for the driver's license exam despite a state constitutional provision declaring English as the official and common language of Alabama government. The Foundation filed a constitutional property rights lawsuit agains the City of Destin, Florida and the County Sheriff's office to protect beachfront property owners against ongoing violations of equal protection and due process on the public access to beach issue. SLF continues its work in defense of constitutional legislative reapportionment and state legislative redistricting, commissioning a definitive scientific study on partisan gerrymandering that will support litigants in expected cases in as many as 20 states.
2010 - Southeastern Legal Foundation, representing 15 members of Congress and 16 corporations and professional associations, files multiple legal actions against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenging the flawed and fraudulent science and legal procedures under the Clean Air Act used by the EPA as it enacts draconian rules and regulations governing greenhouse gas emissions - so-called "global warming" energy policy pursued by the Obama Administration. SLF establishes a companion website at www.epalawsuit.org with complete information on legal filings, scientific background, and policy/media coverage in what is SLF's most sweeping litigation in its 35-year history. SLF is preparing for widespread legislative redistricting litigation and policy disputes following the 2010 Census by commissioning the production of five (5) demographic data studies on redistricting, apportionment and partisan gerrymandering vital to the support of redistricting litigation expected in as many as 46 states. SLF pursues Freedom of Information Act requests with the Obama Administration and U.S. Commerce Department, which oversees the the decennial Census, to determine potential manipulation of the Census data for political purposes. The Alabama Supreme Court dockets SLF's appeal from a lower state court decision on the challenge against the use of multiple languages for driver's license exams in direct contravention of the Alabama Constitution, which mandates the use of English exclusively for government functions. SLF continues to represent a group of Florida beachfront property owners in a nationally significant federal constitutional challenge to protect Fifth Amendment property rights and Equal Protection and Due Process rights. SLF continues its post-appeal challenge against the City of McDonough, Georgia over its illegal imposition of impact development fees.
2009 - Southeastern Legal Foundation submits a comprehensive public comment to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calling into question the scientific underpinnings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that serve as the basis for the EPA's proposed regulations on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, the EPA publishes its Endangerment Finding, which is challenged by SLF in both administrative and court actions. SLF represents 15 members of Congress and 17 companies and professional associations in the climate change litigation against the EPA. SLF files important amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in cases involving the Voting Rights Act (Justice Clarence Thomas cites SLF's brief three times in his opinion), NW Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Eric Holder, et al; the constitutionality of life without parole for violent juvenile offenders, Graham v. State of Florida andSullivan v. State of Florida; and in defense of private beachfront property rights, Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, et al. SLF files suit against the State of Alabama, challenging the constitutionality of the state's current administration of driver's license exams in multiple languages in direct contravention of the state's constitutional mandate for official English for government activities and services. SLF continues its case challenging the City of McDonough, Georgia for its effort to impose illegal impact development fees in contravention of state law and procedures.
2008 - Southeastern Legal Foundation won a decisive victory in defense of free speech when the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations dismissed multiple charges of discrimination against Geno's Steaks owner Joey Vento, who posted a sign at his nationally known shop stating, "This is America...when ordering, please speak English." In June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that vindicates the Second Amendment right to personal handgun ownership and use (District of Columbia, et al v. Heller, et al). The Foundation submitted a brief on behalf of several organizations and individuals representing women, the elderly and the disabled, arguing that DC's handgun ban violated the critical right of meaningful self-defense for these vulnerable individuals. The Foundation filed a lawsuit against a Georgia city, alleging the City violated state law and basic property rights by collecting an illegal development "impact fee" for construction projects during a self-imposed building moratorium. Foundation Executive Director Shannon Goessling continues her appointment on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. The Foundation undertakes a comprehensive projects to expose the dangers and fallacies of the global warming litigation movement, including poignant analysis on global warming pseudo-science, faulty legal claims raised by plaintiffs in multi-billion dollar lawsuits, and dangerous assaults on free speech rights executed by global warming extremists and lawyers representing plaintiffs against American industry and the federal government.
2007 - Southeastern Legal Foundation secures a dismissal of discrimination charges against an Ohio pub owner who placed a sign at his establishment saying, "For service, speak English." SLF agrees to represent Joey Vento, the owner of Philadelphia's landmark Geno's Steaks, who is charged with discrimination by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations for placing a sign in his window saying, "This is America...when ordering, please speak English." He is charged with discrimination despite that fact that there are no allegations of actual discrimination, and SLF argues First Amendment free speech principles in his defense. SLF argues before the Alabama Supreme Court that the state's constitutional mandate for official English trumps the state's current policy of offering driver's license examinations in multiple languages. Despite a 5-4 ruling against SLF's position, SLF attorneys have filed a motion for reconsideration based on substantive evidence and procedural matters, and the Alabama legislature is considering legislation specifically addressing the driver's license language question. SLF works with 20 states in an effort to continue the spread of tort reform limits against predatory lawsuits, and is developing a Global Warming Litigation Project to held defend against the upcoming onslaught of costly class action climate change lawsuits against American industry. SLF prepare to challenge an effort by former President Bill Clinton for re-instatement of his law license after his disbarment in 2001 based on a three-year SLF effort to hold him professionally accountable for lying under oath and obstructing justice in an ongoing federal lawsuit.
2006 - Southeastern Legal Foundation takes appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court in nation's leading case defending the state constitutional mandate to use English as the official language, including for driver's license examinations. SLF takes lead in successful effort to roll back eminent domain private property seizures by government for so-called "economic development" purposes, assisting Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue in drafting anti-Kelo laws. SLF continues to defend private property owners in Destin, Florida and Stockbridge, Georgia in potentially precedent-setting cases against unconstitutional government land grabs. SLF defends an Ohio pub owner against state charges of discrimination for placing a sign at his establishment saying, "For service, speak English." SLF successfully defends Christmas displays at a public library district, citing unconstitutional religious discrimination.
2005 - Southeastern Legal Foundation tort reform efforts pay off with comprehensive legal reform measures enacted in Georgia and South Carolina, with Florida enacting further reforms. SLF challenges Alabama's policy of offering driver's license examinations in multiple languages in direct violation of a state constitutional amendment. SLF attorneys intervene in a school choice/funding lawsuit against Georgia in an effort to stop the dramatic court-ordered tax hikes seen in other states. SLF explores litigation against the ACLU to stop its efforts to damage national security with reckless lawsuits against the U.S. intelligence agencies designed to expose sensitive information gathered in the war on terror.
2004 - Southeastern Legal Foundation presses its case against unfair race preference programs in the State of North Carolina in one of the nation's first affirmative action challenges against a statewide program. SLF champions the federal marriage amendment effort with extensive legal and public policy outreach, culminating in testimony before Congress. Based on SLF's American Religious & Legal Heritage Protection project, lawmakers in several states introduced legislation enabling a constitutionally protected display of the Ten Commandments and other historical documents in public buildings. Its Election Task Force 2004 exposed political contribution patterns of various left-wing individuals and organizations skirting campaign finance laws. SLF pursued the "Memogate" scandal in Washington, DC, in which Democratic Senators and staffers stalled the public disclosure of memoranda detailing a conspiracy to obstruct the Bush judicial nomination process and interfere with ongoing legal cases.
2003 - Southeastern Legal Foundation continues as co-counsel, plaintiff, and chief financial resource in the omnibus constitutional challenge against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" law (McConnell, et al. v. FEC, FCC), which will be heard on appeal by the U.S. Supreme Court in the fall of 2003. SLF challenges the State of North Carolina's affirmative action preference program for road contracting, following on the 2002 federal court victory against a similar program in Charlotte, NC. Continuing its precedent-setting federal litigation against the City of Atlanta, SLF prepares for trial in its case challenging the city's impact fee program. SLF continues at the forefront of the national policy effort in support of U.S. immigration control.
2002 - SLF joins as chief funder, co-counsel and plaintiff in the omnibus constitutional challenge against McCain-Feingold's so-called campaign finance reform."" U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, chief plaintiff, heads a list of 84 plaintiffs challenging free speech and freedom of association violations in the new law. SLF pursues state and federal legal action against U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) for election law violations stemming from Election Day 2000. SLF wins a federal lawsuit against the City of Charlotte, NC's unconstitutional race-quota program for public contracting, adding to the list of similar successes in Atlanta, Jacksonville, FL, Nashville, TN, Richmond, VA, and against the University of Georgia race-based admissions policy.
2001 - In January, Bill Clinton becomes the first sitting U.S. President to lose his law license as a result of a formal bar complaint. Based on SLF's complaint and the contempt citation issued by federal district court Judge Susan Webber Wright, Clinton signs an agreed order of discipline with Independent Counsel Robert Ray and Arkansas authorities suspending his license for five years (a period of time tantamount to disbarment). This action, taken the day before Clinton leaves office on January 19, is the only significant penalty faced by Clinton apart from U.S. House impeachment. During the summer, the City of Atlanta, after spending more than $2 million defending its illegal quota program for public contracts, abandons its illegal program and settles with the plaintiffs for an undisclosed amount. SLF, under the leadership of President Phil Kent, launches a legal and policy effort to stop amnesty proposals and driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Joined by former Independent Counsel Ken Starr and former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese, SLF prepares a litigation effort to stop unconstitutional free speech violations in McCain-Feingold/ Shays-Meehan so-called campaign finance "reform." The Foundation sues the City of Atlanta over its illegal misappropriation of more than $20 million in impact fees paid by developers.
2000 - In January, the Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously orders the state's legal ethics committee to proceed with SLF's complaint against Clinton. The committee serves the White House with two formal complaints in February. SLF argues in favor of a widow's right to responsibly harvest timber on her property in the Virginia Supreme Court, an important property rights case. In March, on the deadline day for responding to the formal legal ethics complaints, Clinton requests a year-long extension until he has left office, which the Arkansas committee rejects and instead orders Clinton to formally respond by April 21. In May, the Committee votes to initiate disbarment proceedings against Clinton, marking the first time in U.S. history that a sitting President faces court action which may result in the loss of the license to practice law. In June, the Committee’s appointed prosecutor files formal disbarment action against Clinton in Pulaski County, Arkansas Circuit Court. In December, the City of Atlanta voluntarily abandons constitutional defense of its quota program for public contracts under court order. More than 115,000 annual contributors support SLF’s activities, while 2 million people are expected to visit SLF’s web site.
1999 - In January, SLF wins decisive census victory in U.S. Supreme Court, which holds that sampling is constitutionally prohibited for purposes of congressional apportionment (Glavin, et al v. Clinton, et al). Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes signs into law the largest tax cut in state history, a $1 billion, 4-year moratorium in the state’s Unemployment Insurance tax, a plan authored by SLF. In August, SLF files a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the City of Atlanta’s program for public contracting, which sets aside 34 percent of all contracts for minorities. At the same time, SLF publishes a Special Report on Race-Neutral Alternative Affirmative Action Programs, which outlines legal programs used in cities across the nation. Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell makes national news for his violent rhetoric in response to the lawsuit. In December, SLF files a petition with the Arkansas Supreme Court, asking the court to order the state’s legal ethics committee to proceed with consideration of its complaint against attorney Clinton. Annual supporters top 110,000, and more than 1 million people visit SLF’s web site.
1998 - SLF unemployment insurance tax cut efforts top $750 million in Southeast. Foundation launches landmark challenge on census against Clinton administration. Federal court challenge against Atlanta Schools set-aside program results in comprehensive settlement and elimination of race-based programs. SLF files the first legal ethics complaint against attorney Bill Clinton with the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct, alleging lying under oath and obstruction of justice in the Paula Jones legal matter. Annual supporters number 96,000 nationwide.
1997 - Based on SLF policy reports, five Southeastern states slash unemployment insurance taxes by more than $600 million dollars. Foundation contributors rise from 5,000 to more than 85,000, as SLF appears in national publications, television, and radio. Important federal court challenge against Atlanta affirmative action program, Prior Tire Co. v. City of Atlanta School District, results in preliminary ruling invalidating three-fourths of City's plan. SLF plans national lawsuit challenging Clinton's administration's Census 2000 plan as unconstitutional.
1996 - SLF lawsuit challenging Georgia's intangibles tax provokes leads to elimination of $40 million a year tax. SLF policy report of Georgia's bloated unemployment insurance tax fund results in tax cut of $65 million a year. The Wall Street Journal and others credit SLF with $105 million in tax cuts this year alone. SLF agrees to represent retired FBI agent and author of best-selling Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House, Gary Aldrich, in threatened Justice Department lawsuit challenging his first amendment right to publish his book.
1995 - Georgia Supreme Court strikes down Atlanta's ordinance granting benefits to unmarried and gay partners of City employees in important SLF case. Foundation joins lawsuit against local school district to protect parental rights, Earls v. Stephens County School District, which touches off congressional hearings and sparks national debate.
1994 - SLF garners national attention by entering lawsuit to enforce Georgia tuition voucher statute. In important U.S. Supreme Court decision, Dolan v. City of Tigard, SLF successfully argues as amicus that government mandates to set aside private property for public use violates constitutional private property rights.
1993 - SLF won an important U.S. Supreme Court decision representing Associated General Contractors against the City of Jacksonville, Florida. The Court established that a qualified bidder on a public contract has standing to challenge an unfair set-aside program without suffering actual monetary damages.
1992 - U.S. Supreme Court decision described by legal scholars as ""one of the most important this century,"" Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, ensured just compensation when government regulation ""takes"" the full value of private property. Mr. Lucas praises SLF's briefs as instrumental to his success.
1990 - As part of a landmark case, SLF argued on behalf of a group of black parents in DeKalb County, Georgia that the 20-year old federal school desegregation order had gone too far with forced busing. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed that forced busing was not the proper remedy for alleged past discriminations, and that quality of education should instead be the focus of such policies, Freeman v. Pitts.
1989 - U.S. Supreme Court strikes down unconstitutional race-based set-asides for local and state government public contracts in landmark City of Richmond v. Croson. SLF assists Virginia counsel and submits important amicus briefs.
1988 - Arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court should apply the same strict review standard to the racial preference policies of the FCC as applied in the federal appeal of Croson, which covered local and state government contract racial preferences. This decision, Astroline Communications v. Shurberg Broadcasting, lays groundwork for the high Court's Croson decision, and foreshadows the application to federal programs in Adarand Construction v. Pena.
1987 - SLF successfully argued for the lifting of a protective order prohibiting access to raw data on the enforcement of Georgia's death penalty in a race-neutral manner. The U.S. Supreme Court held that, in light of the accurate data, Georgia's courts were not enforcing the death penalty in a racially discriminatory manner, McCleskey v. Kemp.
1986 - SLF represents Cross Creek, Florida residents against state and local government attempts to create a "public use" area on their property without compensation. In response to lengthy litigation, Florida revives land use regulations in favor of property owners.
1984 - SLF responded to concerned Georgia taxpayers by drafting a proposed amendment to the state constitution, which closed costly loopholes in the public pension system. The amendment was overwhelmingly approved by the state's voters.
1983 - SLF filed suit against the ACLU for invading the privacy of a family with unfounded legal proceedings, which focused national attention on a private, voluntary drug dependency program.
1982 - SLF filed on of the nation's first lawsuits challenging U.S. Department of Justice authority to mandate legislative redistricting in opposition to state constitutional provisions, Cavanaugh v. Brock.
1981 - The U.S. Supreme Court upheld SLF's successful district court argument that part of the Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act limiting independent organization participation impermissibly interfered with political free speech, Common Cause v. Schmitt, FEC v. Americans for Change.
1980 - When the U.S. Forest Service withdrew from use 31,000 acres in North Carolina, SLF argued in federal court on behalf of sportsmen, environmentalists and forest products interests that the wilderness management violated legitimate interests in the land.
1979 - SLF filed formal comments with the U.S. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) objecting to affirmative action requirements applied to small businesses and to requirements saddling all business with costly compliance burdens. OFCCP eased administrative burdens on small businesses and subcontractors.
1978 - SLF successfully argued for limitations on the Endangered Species Act when the Tellico Dam-TVA project was halted to protect the snail darter. Along with attorneys for the Commonwealth of Virginia, SLF successfully ended 48 years of the U.S. Labor Department's non-reviewable use of the Davis-Bacon Act, which set minimum wages for federal projects.
1976 - A group of conservative business and civic leaders meet in Atlanta, Georgia to form the Southeastern Legal Foundation. Former U.S. Representative Ben Blackburn of Georgia is named the first President.