Vermillion, S.D. – On March 1, 2012, Attorney Ron Parsons of Johnson Janklow Abdallah was invited by the University of South Dakota School of Law to discuss his experience in handling a case from the federal district court level all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
The case was Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Association, commonly referred to as the “Beef Checkoff” case. It presented a First Amendment challenge to compelled subsidies that all United States cattle producers are required by law to pay in order to support the promotion of domestic and foreign beef as a single, generic commodity. Johnson Abdallah clients were South Dakota cattle producers who objected to being forced to pay for this generic promotion, rather than advertisements specifically promoting the sale of “U.S. Beef” as they wanted the program to do. The government defended the program upon the basis that the marketing supported by the “Beef Checkoff” was “government speech” that was not susceptible to a First Amendment challenge.
Parsons successfully tried the case before U.S. District Court Judge Charles B. Kornmann in Aberdeen. At the Supreme Court level on appeal, they joined forces with Harvard Constitutional Law Professor Laurence H. Tribe, who argued the case before the Justices, with Parsons also in attendance at counsel’s table in Washington D.C. In an opinion authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, a divided Supreme Court ultimately upheld the program. Because it involved a new and somewhat controversial doctrine of First Amendment jurisprudence, the case has been the subject of much academic debate and scholarship since that time.
At the USD Law School Symposium, entitled “Debating the Doctrine: Government Speech,” Parsons discussed his involvement and the implications of this seminal case with constitutional scholars from across the country. The Symposium was sponsored and underwritten by the South Dakota Law Review and the University of South Dakota.
More information on the Supreme Court case is available at http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2004/2004_03_1164/ .
It is great to work with the attorneys at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah. They always provide excellent advice and service that is second to none.
The lawyers at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah are consistently ranked as the top business lawyers in the state. Our business can always count on them to aggressively fight for our rights and provide straight-forward advice on complex issues.
Lawyers from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah regularly participate in legal education by judging intramural student skills competitions; helping prepare our nationally competitive litigation skills teams; serving or leading the South Dakota State Bar's Law School Committee; and, from time to time , providing guest lecturers. The Law School is grateful for the generous participation of lawyers like those from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah.