Public Law


What the Supreme Court’s NRA v. Vullo Free Speech Ruling Means for Municipal Employees

by Benjamin A. Goldberger

A unanimous Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the longstanding principle that government officials who use the power of their office to punish or suppress the views of private organizations by threatening their business partners violate the First Amendment. This is true even if the official is investigating “concededly illegal” activities. This… READ MORE

No Fly Zone for Municipal Standing Against FAA

by Sean M. Grammel

Municipalities cannot rely on aircraft noise or expenditure of municipal resources to establish standing when they challenge a final order by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to a recent decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals.  See Town of Milton v. Federal Aviation Administration, 87 F.4th 91 (1st… READ MORE

A Supreme Split over Breakfast: What National Pork Producers Could Mean as Massachusetts Law Moves Toward Implementation

by Benjamin A. Goldberger, Marissa Grenon Gutierrez

Introduction  This week, in federal court in Massachusetts, a number of out-of-state pig farmers filed a motion seeking to prevent enforcement of a Massachusetts law, originally enacted by ballot initiative, that prohibits the sale of certain agricultural products produced from animals confined in a “cruel… READ MORE

Town Cannot Demand “Polite” Conduct in Public Meetings. What about Town Meeting?

by Mina S. Makarious, Nina L. Pickering-Cook

In a decision that threatens to make local politics more contentious, the SJC unanimously held that municipalities could not require speakers to be civil during public comment sessions. At issue in Barron v. Kolenda, was the Southborough Select Board’s public participation policy that required “that all remarks and dialog in… READ MORE

Police Officer Suspended for Facebook Post Allowed to Sue City

by Austin P. Anderson

At a time when Towns are increasingly wary of potentially inflammatory political statements by their employees, a Massachusetts court has raised a warning flag for Towns considering discipline as a result of those statements.  A Cambridge police officer filed suit against the City, alleging it had violated his constitutional free… READ MORE

Update: Commonwealth Issues Final Housing Choice Guidelines

by Mina S. Makarious

On August 10, 2022, the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development (“EOHED”) and Department of Housing and Community Development (“DHCD”) issued final guidelines for cities and towns to implement Section 3A of the Zoning Act (“Section 3A”) as required under the Governor’s Housing Choice legislation.  DHCD had… READ MORE

D.C. Circuit Upholds Remote ID Rules for Drones

by 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