A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

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

The Fourteenth Amendment requires a meaningful review of limitations on the right to perform a common occupation. IJ believes yes. Kentucky’s restriction on home healthcare agencies that prevents two entrepreneurs from starting a new agency catering to Louisville’s Nepali-speaking community doesn’t make any sense. Learn more by clicking here

  • FCC officials suspect that radio broadcasts may be secretly sponsored by Russian or Chinese governments. It issues an order asking licensed broadcasters and other broadcasters to verify that foreign governments are not paying for broadcasts. D.C. explains that the only problem is that it doesn’t have the law Congress wrote. Circuit that it is not the law Congress created. FCC is authorized to demand licensees ask their sponsors and employees about foreign governments. But, not to forbid licensees from doing independent research.
  • A congressional committee tries subpoena Trump’s accounting firm. On remand by SCOTUS the chairwoman of the committee has given more details about why she wants what she wants: new legislation regarding presidential self-dealing. D.C. Circuit: While there is still concern about the separation of power, however, Post-hoc The subpoena and explanations can be accepted. But, let’s narrow it down a bit. These are major issues. Let’s see if one of us can try it. en banc? Note: Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was an argumentator in the case and was therefore “rode circuit”, although she didn’t participate in writing the opinion.
  • Is it against the Second Amendment that the NYPD denies a Bronx resident a license for a rifle or shotgun in his house because of his 2011 domestic violence arrest? In light of the recent Supreme Court decision, though, we sent it back to the district court.
  • Anonym internet users uploaded instructions for 3D printing guns parts and accessories using marks belonging to Everytown for Gun Safety. This anti-gun violence group is known for its anonymity. What is protected parody? Trademark infringement? Second Circuit: The district court will decide if the defendants are allowed to proceed anonymously.
  • Suffolk County, N.Y. police wrote letters last year warning gun owners that they would be arrested and prosecuted criminally if the firearm was not turned in by the deadline of 15 days. Second Circuit: These plaintiffs do not have standing to sue because no one has been actually arrested and guns aren’t being taken.
  • Press releases Freedom of Information Act Request to Secret Service regarding records related to the PresidentSelect Trump before he took the oath on January 20, 2017. Second Circuit: These are not “agency records” because neither a presidential election nor a presidential transition constitute an “agency.” Even if they were they would be subject to the FOIA exception for “unwarranted invasions of personal privacy”.
  • The Fourth Circuit panels finds it strange that the government opposes the cancellation of a firearms conviction in 2003 for a man the government doesn’t like, as if newborn babies are wrapped up in a cashmere blanket. RecognizeIn fact, he is innocent. Although we might never understand the reasons the government makes the decisions it does, this is where the criminal defendant wins.
  • Corpus Christi in Texas was the location of this incident. Police sought to arrest gang members who had outstanding criminal warrants. The gang member was only described as Hispanic and had been seen on a large-handled bicycle riding in the “area Leopard and Up River”. The police stop a suspect in this area and arrest him. Uh oh! He is not the right guy. He moves to conceal the gun, saying that there wasn’t reasonable suspicion of the stop. Fifth Circuit, over a dissent: He’s correct. We have rejected more elaborate descriptions because they are too short to justify an investigatory stop.
  • Although a court ordered a man incompetent for trial to be committed to civil prison or freed, he is still in Clay County, Miss. He will remain in Clay County, Miss. for six years until local media starts to ask questions. Fifth Circuit. The court was also lied about the lies by the ex- and present sheriffs. There is no qualified immunity for sheriffs.
  • Officials in Texas banned the Nation of Gods and Earths religion group from meeting in 2014 Officials: Our new policy lifts this ban. It is not a case. Fifth Circuit: No, it’s not. The policy only allows them to remain in prison. to applyCongregate. Judge Ho, concurring: “We cannot allow government officials to unilaterally avoid judicial review—and especially not when they openly admit that their change in behavior is strategic rather than sincere.”
  • Officers stopped a driver leaving Lake Charles (La.) Retire in a safe area. Contraband was found during a search. A search reveals contraband. District court. No. Officers didn’t step in front his vehicle. He was allowed to leave. Fifth Circuit: The stop was necessary because the state law states that drivers must stop when an officer commands them to. You can also see the motion to suppress.
  • Fifth Circuit: The SEC can not force you into giving up First Amendment rights to vacate an old five-year-old court judgment. Concurrence
  • Coryell County District Court, Texas. A jail officer responded to the disruptive detainee using reasonable and measured force. Once she was restrained, they removed her from custody. Qualified immunity. Fifth Circuit. That is the defendants version. We can’t look at it at summary judgment. According to plaintiff’s evidence, the detainee was tapping on her cell doors with her hairbrush. The officers pepper sprayed and punched her several times before finally putting their 230-pound bodies and 390-pound bodies into her neck, back, and neck. According to this version, there is no qualified immunity.
  • In 2017, Detroit officials—who have a habit of forcing people into foreclosure over inflated tax bills—mailed out 260k property tax assessments that tell homeowners they have at most four days to challenge those assessments or forever lose their chance at judicial review. Although the deadline is extended, officials don’t personally notify homeowners. They rely instead on information from local news media and an announcement made at a council meeting. This could be considered a breach of due process. The Sixth Circuit says that Congress passed legislation stating local tax matters like these must be referred to the state courts unless there’s a clear way to appeal in state court. This (over a disagreement) is not here. Case undismissed.
  • Is it in violation of the First Amendment for Westfield (Ind.) A large-sized digital billboard will be prohibited from being displayed on town property by officials. Because the city distinguishes between off-premises and on-premise signs, the district court agreed that the sign could be placed on private property. This allows for officials to make discriminatory decisions based on speech content. Seventh Circuit. However, the Supreme Court recently torpedoed the reasoning.
  • Heather Weyker from St. Paul was a Minnesota police officer who also served as a federal deputized task force agent. She framed innocent victims in order to create an interstate sex trafficking ring that wasn’t real. A victim of Weyker, who was held in federal custody for years before she was released, sued, claiming that Weyker violated the Constitution. Eighth Circuit: Federal agents are de facto immune from lawsuits. You cannot sue them in their capacity. Because her federal investigation was fake, you can’t sue for her local office capacity. (N.B.(N.B.
  • Do police officers have the First Amendment right of recording them? Tenth Circuit (2021): Can’t say. Won’t say. Tenth Circuit (2022). It is a well-established right. This Lakewood officer from Colorado, who was allegedly shining a flashlight in the cameras of citizen-journalists, drove straight at them, made a U-turn and gunned his car back towards a journalist. He then blast his airhorn.
  • One Utah Highway Patrol Trooper stops an out-ofstate driver and issues a warning after he pulls him over for suspected window-tint violations. A trooper calls a friend on the force, and asks the man to stop driving the vehicle. This is done by the second trooper. A dog alerts the trooper to the vehicle. The trooper conducts a search but finds no drugs. The man files suit. pro seThe defendant alleged that successive stops had violated his Fourth Amendment rights. District court: Qualified immunity. Tenth Circuit: Let’s take a second look at this one.
  • Kansas contractors created a scheme to funnel money to people who didn’t have work permits in order to install drywall at other businesses. Contractors are being prosecuted by the Feds under an illegal statute that “encourages” or “induces” illegal entry to the U.S. Tenth Circuit: Yep. The law has to take the overbreadth L. Dissent. That is pretty powerful medicine, if we just interpret the statute in another way.
  • Dunedin is a Florida septuagenarian who leaves the city for approximately two months in order to finalize his mother’s estate. Meanwhile, the man he had paid to mow their lawn suddenly dies. City officials fine him $500/day, plus $28.5k interest, for excessively mowing his lawn. Because he is unable to pay, officials are seeking to seize his home. An excessive fine? Violation of the due process Eleventh Circuit: The state law does not allow for $500/day penalties for municipal violations. Eleventh Circuit, he should have filed his due process claim in state court. (This case is IJ.
  • IJ asks the Supreme Court for amicus briefings to direct lower courts to exercise full jurisdiction over federal agencies, rather than intuiting a congressional desire that agencies be allowed to proceed as they please.

Friends, Iowa’s Constitution begins with some stirring words: “All men and women are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights — among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.” What does that actually mean? Unfortunately, Iowa’s Supreme Court rejected the idea last month. They applied rational basis review, effectively rendering the clause inapplicable. This is a shame. You can find out more information about this clause’s rights-protecting history by clicking here