A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.

Is the Constitution applicable to federal law enforcement officials? Our brief was filed in reply to the Constitution this week. Mohamud v. Weyker The Supreme Court should resolve that circuit split and reverse the Eighth Circuit’s ruling that there was no constitutional remedy for a Special Deputy U.S. The Marshal told lies, and Hamdi, then 16, was sent to prison for two years.

  • Does the United States Archives have any reason to not turn over communications, documents and videos? A congressional committee was investigating the attack by domestic terrorists on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. D.C. Circuit: We can’t see any.
  • Allugation: San Juan, P.R. is being managed by a private contractor. The plaintiff was attempting to sue the public housing agency. However, they also made arrangements for her to have her home searched by police for weapons and illegal drugs. This caused her extreme distress as well as her child who is autistic. Is it possible to sue the contractor for constitutional violations as though it were a government actor and not a private actor? First Circuit: No.
  • Responding to shots fired calls, police stop a BMW speeding and cuff its occupants. They then put the two in the squad car. Police searched the vehicle for officer safety reasons and found an ammunition magazine, but not a gun. Driver, who is a felon in the past, has bad news. District court: Because the officers didn’t actually care about their safety, they should not have tossed the Beemer. First Circuit: It doesn’t really matter that the officers didn’t have any concern for their safety. Let’s not forget to overrule any circuit precedent saying otherwise.
  • According to the Hobbs Act, certain types of administrative orders must be challenged and consolidated before a circuit court randomly selected. The D.C. Circuit heard a series of challenges to an FCC rule about sending faxes in 2017. Circuit, having been lucky, heard a series of challenges to an FCC ruling about sending faxes. The rule was invalidated. Is the decision binding for the other circuit courts because of its consolidated nature? Second Circuit. That’s the point of this statute. Dissent: This is the D.C. Circuit is a fine piece of work, but not the boss.
  • An engineer on a ship carrying petroleum allegedly maintained false logs in order to hide the vessel’s potential dirty dealings. It was a prank! Wait! Any book-cooking he did would have taken place when the ship (and the books!) They were located in international waters which would mean that the court’s subject-matter jurisdiction is not available to the landlubbers. Third Circuit: The part in which he took the prepared books directly into Delaware Bay suffices. Conviction affirmed.
  • Montcoal in West Virginia, a Montcoal mine that was leaking methane gas began to leak in 2010. coalmine, killing 29 miners. Federal agents accuse the owner of the mine with violating mine-safety regulations in an effort to run more coal. He’s convicted. He was convicted. Fourth Circuit: It’s shameful that the feds didn’t turn over a slew of documents. However, the owner would not have been able to win his case even with those documents. Conviction affirmed.
  • Are you interested in an “exotic, complicated” history about the oil-rich Saudi Arabian land? An arbitration that resulted was $18bil in awards and fees as well criminal charges and sentences in prison. This Circuit is your chance to get in the game (while giving you some jurisdictional catnip).
  • A circuit split was held once upon deciding whether Congress’s ban on “machineguns”, means that ATF can ban bump stocks. However, the Sixth Circuit, sitting in banc, is unable to decide. Chevron The deference rule applies. Therefore, the original panel decision has been permanently annulled. Additionally, the District Court’s deferring decision to ATF is affirmed and the circuit split is null. Forecast of SCOTUS futures market? Sell!
  • Sachin Gupta was on a business trip when he drank excessive amounts of alcohol and became extremely intoxicated. Gupta actually was a guest at another hotel. This was the issue, not the hotel keycard. Judge Rovner from the Seventh Circuit states that the jury must decide whether or not an officer is liable for Gupta’s fall and resulting in a broken neck. Reversed the grant of qualified immunity
  • An officer from West Union in Iowa is speeding through an intersection at 60 MPH. He’s trying to reach the “fight in Progress” scene. There are lights and sirens activating and he t-bones the truck. The driver was killed. His estate sues. District court: Summary judgment for officer. He was not driving recklessly, and no reasonable juror could have concluded otherwise. Eighth Circuit: Agreed. Eighth Circuit: Agreed.
  • Spokane’s police were in violation of clearly defined law when they prevented a reporter from engaging with a counterprotestor during a demonstration of the library’s Drag Queen Story Hour. The journalist asked: “Aren’t you the one that advocated for the execution of gay persons?” Ninth Circuit: No. Police could enforce protestor/counterprotestor zones as they saw necessary.
  • A 16-year old student-athlete challenged the San Diego Unified Schools District’s mandate to immunize students aged 16 or older. Ninth Circuit – The law does not pose a problem because it is nonreligious. Dissent. The law does not reflect religious neutrality. There are non-religious exclusions to allow for new students and medical exemptions. Is this student less dangerous than that plaintiff?
  • Arizona voters who vote by mail must either sign the printed affidavit or send a replacement ballot. This week, the Ninth Circuit held that Arizona can toss absent signature ballots. It also allows for other ballots to be corrected after elections.
  • Do you have some free time? You might consider consuming a total of 282 pages (over dissents), which will uphold the convictions for two Uzbekistani refugees, who conspired in order to support the Islamic Jihad Union. FISA warrants, discovery delays, the Speedy Trial Act—what more could you ask for?
  • On November 5, 2021, the Secretary of Health and Human Services issued an interim rule that requires facilities that provide health care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to ensure that their staff—unless otherwise exempt—are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A variety of states sued including Florida. This led to contradicting rulings. Louisiana is one of them. It claims that it will enjoin enforcement all over the country, even Florida. Eleventh Circuit: Soooo … it sounds like Florida got what it wanted and the case is moot? Florida: It is your decision. Eleventh Circuit: Okay, we did warn you.
  • En banc news means that the Ninth Circuit will revise its decision that an appeal to the California order prohibiting in-person instruction at private and public schools in California is moot, and that it violated the fundamental rights and freedoms of the plaintiffs from private-schools.

For the Dave Kennedy Fellowship program, the Institute for Justice is currently looking for law students across the nation. Six of our offices host students. Law students have the opportunity to make a significant professional contribution to ongoing and future litigation in federal and state courts. Working closely with IJ attorneys, you will be able to help develop litigation strategies as well as assist in the nuts-and-bols of cutting edge civil rights litigation. These include responding to discovery request requests, writing motions and briefs, and prepping for hearings. This fellowship, which is $7,000 in value, lasts for 10 weeks and runs generally from May to August. By January 14, all applications are dueOffers will be made as they become available. Visit for more information.