Sometimes landmark decisions grow from prosaic beginnings. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in City of Arlington, Texas v. Federal Communications Commission, 133 S. Ct. 832 (2013), is an example. For the majority, judicial usurpation of the legislative function lay at the heart of the matter. For the dissent, the danger was the ever-growing power of the administrative state and the centrality of the judiciary’s role in constraining its co-equal branches to their proper roles. The basis for this elemental struggle? How long a period is “reasonable” for a state or local government to rule on an application for a telecommunications facility.
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