Advocacy in Practice with Judge Consuelo Callahan

Associate Dean for Experiential Learning Mary-Beth Moylan recently sat down with Judge Consuelo Callahan from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

They discussed Callahan’s path to the bench starting from her career right out of law school; her judicial life on the Court of Appeals; and advice, insights, and observations for attorneys appearing before her in the Ninth Circuit.

One thing in particular that stands out is Judge Callahan’s advice to attorneys – especially those working with Court of Appeals justices. She said “The point [of oral argument in the Appellate Court] is addressing the court’s concern and being really targeted and approaching the case thinking what would a judge want to hear? What opinion is the judge going to write in this and how can I assist the court?”

She emphasized the importance of answering the exact question a judge asks in order to help direct the conversation in a way that you want to argue. This way, you can address what the court finds important in their decision-making process.

Another important point that Callahan made was about preparing for court, setting high standards early on, and establishing good work habits. She put it a little more bluntly than that, saying:

we will do our jobs regardless of whether you do your job.”

Callahan also pointed out some resources to help attorneys make the best arguments and be prepared for their time in the Court of Appeals. The Appellate Reps for the Ninth Circuit host a mentorship program, where attorneys are assigned someone that is a specialist in the area of law.

Judge Callahan gave some amazing insight in her interview that would intrigue anyone in the legal field – attorneys and judges alike. You’ll have to listen to the rest of the podcast for all of her advice.

We hope you enjoy listening to the conversation with Judge Consuelo Callahan. Be sure to tune in next time!




Laws Regulating Lobbyists

Today’s podcast is a brief overview of some of the laws that regulate the lobbying profession in California. In the podcast, I go over lobbying laws and campaigns laws, and how they impact lobbyists.

The Political Reform Act of 1974, often referred to as the PRA, was adopted by the voters as Proposition 9 and is the main law governing lobbying ethics and political campaigns. Note that some cities and counties have locally adopted ordinances regulating lobbying activity as well.

The PRA charges the Fair Political Practices Commission, also known as the FPPC, with enforcing the PRA. I will leave most of the details of the laws regulating lobbyists to the podcast, and here, direct you to where in the Government Code and California Code of Regulations you can find the various laws regulating lobbyists.

The purpose of lobbyist regulation as stated in the PRA is found in Title 9. It reads:

The activities of lobbyists should be regulated and their finances disclosed in order that improper influences will not be directed at public officials.”

Chapter 6 of Title 9 deals specifically with lobbyists. Chapter 6 contains Sections 86100 through 86300. In addition to the laws found in Government Code provisions, the FPPC has adopted regulations on lobbying. Those regulations are contained in Title 2, Sections 18109 through 18997 of the California Code of Regulations.

Article 1 of Chapter 6 of the Government Code sets forth the registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists, Article 2 of the Government Code deals with prohibitions, and Article 3 of Chapter 6 deals with specified exemptions. Again, I go over the contents of those articles in the podcast. The laws I have pointed to here specifically deal with lobbying – you’ll need to listen to the audio for a discussion on how campaign laws impact lobbyists.


In 2013, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) proposed a bill to allow teens aged 16 and 17 to preregister to vote in order to promote registration and involvement in the political system. This bill, SB 113, was signed into law and enacted in 2014, and is now part of the California Elections Code §2102(2)(d).

Just last week, Sam Mahood, a spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla, posted on twitter the results for an 18-month study on preregistrations under the new Elections Code.

The results demonstrate a trend among young voters- almost 44% of preregistrations listed ‘No Party Preference’ with about 37% selecting ‘Democrat’ and 10% as ‘Republican’.

Preregistrations have increased in numbers over the past years. Padilla attributed some of the uptick in preregistration to current events, such as the Parkland, Florida shooting.

“The shooting has high school students very active, aware and engaged,” he said. “We’ve seen the numbers go up even recently.”

Whether this increase in registration and lack of party affiliation will continue will be followed over future years.


Working with Legislative Committees

Today’s post is a continuation of our Rules for Effective Lobbying conversations. Today’s talk between Ray LeBov and Chris Micheli focuses in on the advice they have for lobbyists when it comes to working with committees and committee staff in the California Legislature.

The first step to being successful in working with committees is – like it is in many other aspects of legislative and regulatory advocacy – building good working relationships with the committee staff. This goes beyond just building good relationships with committee consultants, and into building good relationships with the committee secretaries in the Assembly and committee assistants in the Senate.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the work you do that is going to affect your success working in committee is done long before the committee hearing. Testimony at the hearing and other things that occur at the hearing really don’t change many votes. The work done with committee consultants and the minority part consultant to that committee is what will truly affect the outcome.

Also remember that on top of the Joint Rules and the standing rules for either House, that each committee also its own rules. To give one example, every committee has a rule about many days in advance of a hearing you have to submit your letter for it to be included in the analysis under support and opposition. For some committees, it’s a twelve day rule. Now, if you’ve built a good relationship with committee staff, if you’re a few days late, you might be able to go to them and ask them to list the letter, and they will do you that favor. In that situation remember that the twelve day rule applies to you, not them.

On the topic of letters, there may be times when committee staff asks you to submit a letter. A good rule to adhere to is that if honoring that request can in no possible way do harm to your client, always, 100% of the time, honor that request. The good will it can build up is invaluable. That said, never cross the line and agree to a request that could harm your client in any way.




With school shootings making headline news across the country, a rising movement across the United States is to arm teachers to protect students is making headlines. Not surprisingly, there are strong emotions both for and against allowing teachers to carry firearms in schools.

California law prohibits the possession of concealed firearms on campus with a few exceptions. In 2015, the California Legislature passed SB 707, which recognized exceptions, such as persons who have the written permission of specified school district officials or for certain retired reserve peace officers who are authorized to carry a concealed or loaded firearm.

For years, several districts in California have allowed teachers and staff to carry concealed firearms on their school’s grounds. Since 2010, Folsom Cordova Unified School District in Sacramento County has allowed staff to carry weapons on school campuses, however they must be stored in a specified location. In response to the San Bernardino shooting in 2016, Kingsburg Joint Union High School District in Fresno County voted to allow no more than five people to carry concealed weapons on  their person to address “immediate” threats. Anderson Union High School District in Shasta County also allows employees to carry weapons at schools.

Campaigns and citizens across America are protesting policies such as these, with just as many supporting it. The National Educators Association President, Lily Eskelsen García, quickly announced her opposition to arming teachers. She stated in her official comment, “We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.” The California Teachers Association and many of its members expressed their opposition to guns on schools online as well:

However, supporters of arming teachers cite an Illinois teacher who shot an armed student threatening the school. President Donald Trump suggested teachers should have guns in the classroom since the teacher could “[shoot] and that would be the end of it.”

California is just one of over two dozen states that allow teachers and staff to bring firearms on campus with the topic becoming more widespread across the nation, likely more school districts will have to decide if they should allow firearms on their campuses as well.




How Interest Groups Influence Policymaking

Often, when we think of special interests, we associate them with lobbying legislators. However, interest groups not only actively lobby in the legislative arena, but they’re also active in efforts to influence state agencies and regulatory activities.

Who and what are these special interests? Arguably, anyone with a point of view on a matter of public policy is a special interest. However, we generally characterize such interest groups as those with specific public policy agendas that they try to advance with the legislative and executive branches of government. They are generally those with vested interests, who are politically active in the lawmaking process.

What makes interest groups effective? The keys are often being politically powerful and socially popular. For example, teachers, labor unions, and public safety groups enjoy public support, in general. These groups raise and spend enormous sums of money for political campaign contributions. In addition, their members walk precincts, telephone voters, and get people to the polls for voting for their selected candidates.

What are some key ways that interest groups utilize to attempt to influence the Legislature and state agencies?

In order to influence policymaking in the legislative arena, interest groups obviously lobby legislators, as well as staff, legislative staff, committee staff, and ultimately, the Governor’s office. They lobby both in person and via written communications, such as: letters, emails, faxes, and even social media – of which Facebook and Twitter have become popular forums for policy discussions. Some interest groups nearly always include a media component to their lobbying efforts by sending out press releases, holding press conferences and rallies, and pitching favorable stories to the news media.

This is just scratching the surface of ways interest groups can influence the policymaking process in the California Legislature and in state agencies. There is an even more robust exploration of this topic in the podcast.




I appeared earlier this week on KCRA with Mike Luery to talk about the lawsuit that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has against California over three “sanctuary jurisdiction” laws that were passed by the California Legislature last year.

The three laws in question are SB 54, AB 450, and AB 103.

The lawsuit asks a federal district court to define the line between federal and state power under the U.S. Constitution.  Some things are undisputed.  These are:  (1) The federal government has exclusive authority to make and enforce immigration laws. (2) Federal government agents, like ICE agents, have the constitutional authority to enter states and enforce immigration laws against people within the state’s jurisdiction.  And, (3) valid federal law is supreme over state laws that conflict with it.  At the same time, (4) the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to require state agents to enforce federal law.  It may offer inducements, like money or other favors, but it cannot command state officials to do its bidding. And, (5) states, like California, have their own sovereign power to make laws for purposes other than immigration enforcement, specifically to protect the health, safety and welfare of all of their residents.

Here, California’s listed purposes for the three laws in question are to promote health, safety and welfare, not to regulate immigration, although a purpose is quite clearly not to assist with federal government immigration enforcement.  The question for courts will be whether the effects of these laws go beyond regulating the behavior of state and local officials, entities, and individuals lawfully subject to the state’s control into the unconstitutional arena of affirmatively impeding federal immigration enforcement.

As to SB 54, this law prohibits state and local officials from providing some types assistance to ICE enforcement agents, which they are not, by law, required to provide.  States, not the federal government, have the power to direct the behavior of state and local officials.  To the extent that the State of California is only saying don’t help beyond what the law requires, that direction should be okay.

AB 450 deals with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) going into workplaces in California to identify undocumented immigrants. The requirements in AB 450 make ICE do what the law requires it do. That is, have an appropriate warrant and give appropriate notice before ICE comes in to a workplace.  California employers are validly subject to California laws designed to protect the privacy of workers and ensure safe and efficient workplaces.  It’s not clear that ICE has a right superior to California’s policy judgment to get the voluntary cooperation of employers with immigration enforcement.  The constitutionality of this provision will depend upon how courts view the California provision – as part of a valid state effort not to assist federal enforcement or as an affirmative obstacle.

AB 103 might be on the shakiest grounds, I think. It requires California’s Attorney General, or his or her designee, to inspect federal detention centers, including records.  California’s argument that it is protecting the integrity of leased detention facilities of all types within the state is substantial.  Nevertheless, if I had to choose the most vulnerable provision, it would probably be this one to the extent that California officials are going into federal facilities and overseeing how the federal government does things.

Of course, there are a plethora of other opinions about this new lawsuit. There were two opinions featured on this blog a few days ago. Neither of those opinions matches mine perfectly. Maura Dolan of the Los Angeles Times talked to half a dozen law professors from all over California, all of whom have varying opinions about which aspects of the three laws may or may not be constitutional. The San Francisco Chronicle also spoke to law professors for their takes on the lawsuit.

While the range of opinions on which aspects of the three “sanctuary” laws vary widely, there does seem to be a consensus of opinion on one aspect the lawsuit, that this will be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lobbying the Administration

Our In Practice series continues today with lobbying experts Ray LeBov and Chris Micheli discussing how to lobby the Governor’s administration on policy bills. They speak about important points of contact and mistakes lobbyists make when lobbying the administration.

LeBov emphasizes that if a bill you are lobbying affects a department or agency, you are going to need to be speaking with them. Even if they cannot take a position on a bill, their insights and knowledge will be critical to the success or failure of a bill. The agencies and departments a bill affects are going to be making a short presentation and a recommendation later on to the Governor as to whether to sign or veto a bill.

Another point of contact to lobby the administration is through the Horseshoe, which consists of the immediate Governor’s staff. The Deputies in the Legislative Affairs Units are responsible for every single bill that is introduced in the Legislature and are critical to contact. They analyze each bill and compose a file of reports prepared by the Department of Finance and relevant departments and agencies. They also collect letters sent to the Legislature about the proposed bills. LeBov and Micheli suggest sending every letter you as a lobbyist send to the Legislature to the Deputy in charge of the bill so they have it when they analyze the bill for the Governor.

Our experts also emphasize the importance of contacting the Deputies early on so that they can provide insight into any amendments that would make the bill more likely to be signed by the Governor.

Each Deputy is a person and creating a personal relationship with them is critical to building a strong support within the administration and will thus help you effectively advocate and lobby for your clients.

To find out more insights and common mistakes lobbyists make when lobbying the administration, listen to the full podcast.

Live from Classroom A McGeorge School of Law, Prof. Josh Blackman discussing the new sanctuary jurisdiction lawsuit against California.

Posted by McGeorge Capital Center for Law & Policy on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Last night, news broke that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the U.S. Department of Justice are suing the state of California, Governor Jerry Brown, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra over California’s sanctuary jurisdiction policies.

Prior to the development, the Federalist Society had lined up Professor Josh Blackman from Southern Texas College of Law to speak at McGeorge School of Law on the topic of President Trump’s travel ban. The new lawsuit derailed those plans, and he instead spoke about the lawsuit.

There are three California bills that are at play in the case: SB 54, AB 450, and AB 103. The common theme in the lawsuit with these three pieces of California legislation is the issue of preemption and whether or not these pieces of legislation interfere with federal law in ways that would create preemption issues.

That is where today’s two speaker, Prof. Blackman and McGeorge’s own Professor Clark Kelso differed. Enjoy the video of their conversation and the questions that are asked of them afterwards!

There have been thirteen firearm attacks on school campuses resulting in injury or death across the United States since the beginning of 2018,and five more instances of gunfire on campuses – two of which occurred in California. All of this, combined with the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida and the and the ongoing work of the survivors of that shooting have catapulted gun safety towards the top of 2018’s major issues. In response, Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) has a bill to raise the minimum age to purchase a rifle to 21.

California law already restricts handgun sales to only persons over 21 and to a maximum purchase of one handgun every 30 days. However, for purchasing rifles, 18 is the minimum age. Portantino’s bill would have rifle restrictions mirror the restrictions on handgun purchases, raising the minimum age to 21 and limiting purchases of rifles to once every 30 days.

It is not uncommon for California legislators to propose legislation to limit the sale of firearms. In 2016, the California Legislature passed a bill banning the sale of assault rifles and required registration by owners. A bill, similar to Sen. Portantino’s, limiting rifle purchases to every 30 days was defeated last year in the Assembly after the National Rifle Association opposed the bill.

This bill is not without its opponents. Sam Paredes, Director of Gun Owners of California, argues that the proposed restrictions are excessive. He notes that 18 year-olds are allowed to serve in the military, vote, and drive cars. Other proponents of the freedom to purchase weapons are not hesitating to condemn the revised legislation as well.

As mentioned earlier, 2018 has had two school shooting incidents in California. On January 10, at California State University, San Bernardino, bullets were fired through a window, with no suspects or motive identified. Later, on February 1st, a semi-automatic handgun brought to school in Los Angeles by a 12-year-old student accidentally went off. Four students were injured.

Sen. Portantino’s legislation joins dozens of other bills on guns working their way through the California Legislature this year. It will be interesting to see where they all land.