DC Circuit

DC Circuit - The FindLaw DC Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


In 2005, Harry Barko, an employee of government contractor Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), filed a False Claims Act complaint. KBR, which at the time was a subsidiary of Halliburton, provided military support services in Iraq. Barko alleged that KBR was inflating costs and receiving kickbacks.

This case, for which Barko filed a cert. petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, isn't even about all that yet. This is a case about the limits of attorney-client privilege.

As we noted last month, Washington, D.C.'s voter-approved recreational marijuana law is subject to a veto by Congress, which has the last word in administration over the District. Well, it looks like Congress is going to severely harsh people's mellows.

Buried in a 2015 appropriations bill -- on pages 213 to 214, to be exact -- is a paragraph noting that "none of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used" by any of the states or jurisdictions that legalize marijuana in any form to implement those laws. (We should note that the text of this bill only seems to affect "medical marijuana," but an appropriations committee flyer suggests that forthcoming legislation will apply to any kind of marijuana.)

In 2011, Homeland Security received an anonymous tip that someone was trying to help an Iranian company obtain relays for an Iranian power project. The source shared an email from that person, which contained a phone number. Homeland Security searched for this number in its secret database and found a match for a number in Los Angeles.

They searched for more information in their database, finding that the suspect -- Shantia Hassanshahi -- had been investigated before for violating the Iranian trade embargo. More investigations resulted in Hassanshahi being detained at LAX in 2012, during which time his laptop was seized and he was questioned.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear three cases, consolidated into one argument, on the issue of EPA regulation of electric utilities. Michigan v. EPA, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, and National Mining Association v. EPA all seek to address whether it was unreasonable for the EPA to refuse to consider cost when determining whether to regulate air pollutants emitted by electric utilities under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act.

The cases have nationwide importance, as indicated by the gazillions of states that are petitioners and respondents in this case.

Big shocker: A lower court decided not to hear a case because a higher court is going to decide the issue for them! Yeah, we saw this coming too once the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in the Fourth Circuit's Obamacare subsidies case: The D.C. Circuit pressed pause on its own en banc consideration of the issue.

Meantime, also in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel upheld the Obama administration's newest workaround for religious exemption to the birth control mandate.

Obamacare litigation never ends, does it?

Even though the District of Columbia overwhelmingly voted to legalize marijuana earlier this month, Washington, D.C. is no normal place, as its residents know all too well. Though the District does have a city council, acts of the council are subject to approval by Congress, with whom the buck stops when it comes to governing D.C.

So the question remains: Will a Congress that still considers marijuana as deadly as heroin be amenable to approving it for recreational use?

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear oral arguments in Klayman v. Obama, a case that has the potential to alter the Fourth Amendment -- if the court will let it.

Back in December, District Judge Richard Leon granted a preliminary injunction to block the NSA's "metadata" surveillance. Though Leon wasn't ruling on the constitutionality of the program (because likelihood of success on the merits is one element of issuing an injunction), he said the program was very likely unconstitutional.

As you're waiting in line at the airport to get your full body scan, or have your stuff rifled through, you might peer over at the stack of bins, into which you're hastily stuffing your laptop and shoes, and notice that there are ads in them. Since 2007, the TSA has offset the cost of security checkpoints by selling ad space in the bottom of its X-ray bins.

And it's these bins and their ads that are the basis of a lawsuit decided by the D.C. Circuit Court on Tuesday, one that deals with First Amendment rights, patent infringement -- and murder! (Admittedly, I made that last one up to make the story sound more enticing.)

The legal process for immigrating to the United States is "nightmarish," to put it charitably. Certain types of work visas, however, can make immigration much smoother than it would be otherwise. The L-1B is such a visa, and it's reserved for employees whose work entails "specialized knowledge."

If you think that phrase is a little vague, and that its definition would be ripe for a lawsuit, then welcome to Fogo de Chao v. Department of Homeland Security.

The Independence Institute, a Colorado nonprofit, wanted to run a radio advertisement before the November 4 election. The ad urges the two U.S. senators from Colorado to support the Justice Safety Valve Act. Not really a problem, except that Independence Institute didn't want to have to disclose the contributors to the communication, as required by (what's left of) the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia was having none of it and ruled against Independence Institute.