Constitutional Law & Civil Rights
Tonkon Torp’s attorneys litigate complex issues of constitutional law on behalf of businesses and individuals. Many of our litigators also handle pro bono civil rights and civil liberties litigation as cooperating attorneys for the ACLU Foundation of Oregon, Inc. and the CLiF Project.

Our constitutional law and civil rights work includes:
  • Challenges to state and local regulation under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution
  • Challenges to local, state and federal regulations under the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution
  • Claims for compensation under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Oregon Constitution
  • Claims and defenses based on federal preemption of state and local law under the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution
  • Employment and contractor claims arising under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Oregon Constitution and federal and state civil rights statutes
  • Claims for violations of individuals’ rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution

Tonkon Torp Obtains Oregon Supreme Court Victory for ACLU

Tonkon Torp attorneys Steven Wilker, Sarah Einowski and Gwen Griffith, working on behalf of the ACLU of Oregon, won a large victory in the Oregon Supreme Court that strengthens the public's right to records. Find details and more featured cases here.

Steven Wilker Brings ACLU Case to Oregon Supreme Court

Steven Wilker recently presented arguments to the Oregon Supreme Court on behalf of the ACLU of Oregon. At issue is the ACLU’s request for the release of public records from the City of Eugene relating to an incident in 2008 in which a Eugene police officer twice "tased" protestor Ian Van Ornum while he was prone on the ground at an anti-pesticide rally.

Balancing Free Speech and Presidential Security - Wilker Argues at the U.S. Supreme Court on First Amendment Issue

On March 26, 2014, Tonkon Torp litigator Steven Wilker argued at the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the ACLU of Oregon in Wood v. Moss, a political viewpoint discrimination case. Find details and more featured cases here.

ACLU V City of Eugene, et al

Obtained favorable ruling in 2016 from the Oregon Supreme Court that strengthens the public’s right to records. The decision compelled the City of Eugene to turn over records to the ACLU of Oregon that relate to an incident in 2008 in which a Eugene police officer twice "tased" a prone protestor. Tonkon Torp attorneys worked with the ACLU on the case from 2009 to its conclusion, moving the case through the Lane County District Attorney’s office, the Lane County Circuit Court, and the Oregon Court of Appeals before achieving victory at the Oregon Supreme Court.

Latif v Holder

Local counsel for national ACLU case in which multiple plaintiffs challenged the government’s process of adding and retaining people on its "No Fly List." In 2014, the U.S. District Court in Oregon ruled that the government's procedures for people to challenge their inclusion on the list were unconstitutional. The judge ordered the government to provide notice to those plaintiffs who remained on the No Fly List and to create a new process that remedies the procedural deficiencies.  The district court entered judgment for several plaintiffs who were removed from the No Fly List, but subsequently upheld the new procedures as to five remaining plaintiffs. The ACLU has appealed the latter decision and the appeal will be argued at the 9th circuit in Portland as Kariye, et al vs Sessions, et al in October 2018.

Lanier v. City of Woodburn

Obtained judgment against the city of Woodburn for the unconstitutional, suspicionless drug testing of a library job applicant. Prevailed at the U.S. District Court in Oregon and on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, obtaining money judgment for plaintiff and awards of attorney fees at trial and on appeal.

Haber v. City of Portland

Lead counsel in an ACLU class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Portland against the city of Portland, its mayor, and members of the Portland Police Bureau for the unconstitutional detention of protesters following a June 2017 counterprotest against supporters of President Trump.
 

American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. State of Oregon

Tonkon Torp served as counsel for the AAA of Oregon/Idaho in a case resulting from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) challenging Oregon's heavy truck tax system which taxes trucks based on weight and the number of miles they travel on Oregon roads. The ATA alleged that the tax system violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Tonkon Torp's attorneys prevailed at trial, showing that the weight-mile tax does pass the four-part test for state taxes on interstate commerce established by the United States Supreme Court.

Although the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's conclusions, Tonkon Torp successfully petitioned for review, and the Oregon Supreme Court agreed that Oregon's tax is fairly apportioned and does not discriminate against interstate commerce. The United States Supreme Court subsequently denied the ATA's petition for certiorari.