DC Circuit

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

In 2015, years of intense grass roots opposition succeeded in shutting down the Key Stone XL Pipeline, a massive pipeline that would run from the intensely polluting Alberta tar sands to the Gulf Coast. Since then, pipeline fights have remained at the forefront of environmental fights. One of the most recent battles is over the Dakota Access pipeline, a $3.8 billion project that would transfer crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields to Illinois, and through the sacred lands of many Native American groups.

Now, the Standing Rock Sioux are suing. The tribe turned to the D.C. Circuit yesterday, asking it to impose a temporary injunction on further pipeline work while the tribe litigates whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers properly consulted with it before approving the project.

A divided D.C. Circuit panel ordered the United States Election Assistance Commission to remove additional, state-specific citizenship questions from the federal voter registration form on Friday. That form already requires U.S. citizenship as a requirement to register to vote, but the states of Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama had requested additional citizenship questions in the section of the form dedicated to state-specific instructions.

The brief order from the D.C. Circuit requires the EAC to remove state-specific instructions from the form and ignore those questions on completed forms.

Big Telecom Urges D.C. en Banc Review of Net Neutrality Ruling

Several weeks have passed since the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC possessed the power to reclassify broadband companies as telecom common carriers, thereby subjecting them to regulatory authority. Well, some of the bigger names in the industry have already decided to fight back.

It was the kind of petition we just knew was in the works. After all, the reclassification stands to shake up potentially billions of dollars in investment by interested parties. What's a little extra cost for petitioning?

The Other Blue Book: DOJ's Prosecution Manual Can Be Kept Secret

Several years ago, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was criminally indicted on corruption charges but managed to slip by a conviction on what many consider a technicality. The case against him produced much debate about whether or not government lawyers were being properly trained in their ethical duties of disclosure. It also produced "the Blue Book."

Not that Blue Book, but the Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book. And it, unlike its more famous cousin, is probably more important than you know.

As the FBI announced that it would not recommend indicting Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while secretary of state on Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit simultaneously ruled that emails kept on private accounts could be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

The ruling didn't touch on Hillary's emails. Rather, it involved the little-known White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. But the implications for Hillary and other politicians are clear: keeping government records on private servers may not shield them from public scrutiny.

Sure, residents of Washington, D.C. don't have real representation in Congress and can easily have their laws overturned by that same body, but they've got something that's almost better now. FindLaw now has the best, easiest-to-use District of Columbia Codes around.

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Internet Can Be Treated as Utility, DC Circuit Rules

In a major ruling last week, the DC Circuit left undisturbed the FCC's decision on forced net neutrality. Internet service providers balked at the notion that the internet should be regarded as a utility. But they will simply have to get used to this new reality.

This decision, which surprised both proponents and opponents alike, means several things, including more litigation.

DC Circuit: No 2nd Amendment Right to Concealed Carry

DC will continue to enforce its concealed-carry gun law after the circuit stayed a lower federal judge's ruling that the local law was "likely unconstitutional." The city's law is another one of the local municipalities that requires a "good cause" (or "good reason") of those applicants when filing for a concealed carry permit.

Concealed carry seems to be fading in this country. Take note of the recent Ninth Circuit ruling.

Rhea Lana's Franchise Systems puts on semi-annual consignment sales of used toys, clothing, furniture, and the like. Staffed "principally by mothers and grandmothers," the sales are not much different from community fundraisers or garage sales -- except that Rhea Lana is a for-profit business that franchises its sales, but doesn't pay any of its salespeople.

Failing to pay its salespeople brought Rhea Lana to the attention of the Department of Labor, which sent the company a letter notifying it of its noncompliance and warning that penalties could be imposed for repeated or willful violations. Rhea Lana sought to challenge the DOL's determination that it was out of compliance -- and won the right to do just that in the D.C. Circuit last week. The ruling could greatly expand business's right to challenge DOL determinations before any enforcement action is taken.

Students Can Get Discounted FOIA Fees, DC Circuit Rules

Students are educators, too. At least this was the opinion of the DC Circuit, which just opined that documents falling under the FOIA umbrella ought to be cheaper to access for students under the "educational institution" exception.

This appears to be a change in the direction of the FOIA application, as the government has generally held that teachers are eligible for FOIA's reduced fees, but students may not enjoy reduced fees.