Public Law


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 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 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

When it Comes to Pot Shops, Local Control Wins

by Nina L. Pickering-Cook

On July 20, 2021, the Supreme Judicial Court confirmed that municipalities enjoy substantial deference in dealing with marijuana retailers applying for Host Community Agreements (“HCA”).  In Mederi, Inc. v. City of Salem, the SJC affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought by Mederi, whose HCA application was denied after Salem… READ MORE

FAA Announces Additional Aid Available to Airports under ARPA

by Mina S. Makarious

On June 22, 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) announced its process for distributing Airport Rescue Grants pursuant to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319, Pub. L. 117-2) (“ARPA”).  The FAA is issuing nearly $8 billion in total grants to airports all over the country based on airport… READ MORE

Governor Signs Bill Making Zoning Changes and Promoting Housing

by Arthur P. Kreiger

The Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth that Governor Baker signed (with some specific vetoes) on January 14 has several provisions affecting municipal zoning.  Foremost among these are provisions mandating density and the Housing Choice provisions.  All of the provisions discussed here are effective immediately. Zoning Near Transit… READ MORE

Aid for Airports and the Aviation Industry in the 2021 Appropriations Act

by Mina S. Makarious

Image by Alexey Hulsov from Pixabay On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, H.R. 133 (the “2021 Appropriations Act”).  The President signed the legislation on December 27.  The 2021 Appropriations Act authorizes $2.3 trillion in federal spending, including a… READ MORE