Public Law


D.C. Circuit Upholds Remote ID Rules for Drones

by Ezra Dunkle-Polier, Mina S. Makarious

On July 29, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld rules set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requiring drones to have remote identification (Remote ID) technology. In Brennan v. Dickson, the D.C. Circuit rejected constitutional and procedural challenges to the Remote ID Rule (the… READ MORE

Legislative Privilege Recognized in Massachusetts

by Paul Kominers

Under a longstanding doctrine known as legislative immunity, legislators are generally immune from liability for their official acts.  A derivative doctrine, legislative privilege, creates a privilege against giving evidence on official legislative acts.  Recently, in Abuzahra v. City of Cambridge, the Appeals Court formally recognized the legislative privilege in… READ MORE

A Little Notice Goes a Long Way

by Paul Kominers

Any municipality must give notice of hearings on requests for zoning relief.  Defective notice, however, does not necessarily send a municipality back to the drawing board.  In a recent case, Markham v. Pittsfield Cellular Telephone Company, the Appeals Court concluded that regardless of whether Pittsfield had sent abutters notice… READ MORE

Department of Defense Continues Search for PFAS-Free Firefighting Foam

by Mina S. Makarious

Airports are now one step closer to a new, PFAS-free firefighting foam with the Department of Defense’s announcement of a draft specification for an AFFF replacement. Civil airports use aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, to extinguish fires fueled by flammable liquids.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) establishes standards for the… READ MORE

Local Treatment of Speech and Religion get High Court’s Attention this Spring

by Austin P. Anderson

Local issues get a national stage this spring as the Supreme Court considers three separate cases examining whether municipal actions complied with local governments’ obligations under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.  Each of the cases will have important implications for local action relating to speech or religion. Sign… READ MORE

Trouble Brewing in Marblehead

by Austin P. Anderson, Paul Kominers

In St. Paul’s Foundation v. Ives, the First Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Town of Marblehead did not violate the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) when it declined to reinstate a suspended building permit to St. Paul’s Foundation and the Shrine of St. Nicholas… READ MORE

Continued Pandemic-Era Flexibility for Town Meetings

by Sean M. Grammel, Paul Kominers, Nina L. Pickering-Cook

Over the weekend, Governor Baker signed a supplemental budget bill funding COVID-19-related items.  The bill also addresses several other pandemic-related issues.  Of greatest importance to towns are Sections 15 and 26, which give towns continued flexibility to modify their town meetings in light of the pandemic. Section 15 permits towns, upon a… READ MORE

New DHCD Guidelines on Multi-Family Districts for MBTA Communities

by Ezra Dunkle-Polier, Nina L. Pickering-Cook

Long-awaited guidance for municipalities concerning how to comply with new requirements under the Governor’s Housing Choice legislation have finally been issued by the Department of Health and Community Development (“DHCD”).  General Laws Chapter 40A, Section 3A(a) (“Section 3A”) requires that all “MBTA Communities” have at least one zoning district of… READ MORE

Federal Court Issues Nationwide Injunction on Biden Administration’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Federal Contractors

by Ezra Dunkle-Polier, Mina S. Makarious

On December 7, 2021, United States District Court Judge R. Stan Baker at the Southern District of Georgia granted Plaintiffs’ motion to enjoin the Biden administration “from enforcing the vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors in all covered contracts in any state or territory.”  Specifically, the Court determined… READ MORE

Alexander Hamilton, Public Records Law Share Top Billing at the First Circuit

by Paul Kominers

The First Circuit recently delved into a mustier corner of the Public Records Law in United States v. Letter from Alexander Hamilton to the Marquis De Lafayette Dated July 21, 1780, shedding some light on how the Public Records Law affects historic documents. The case concerned a 1780 letter from… READ MORE