DC Circuit

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


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.

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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.

NLRB Can't Order Reimbursement of Court Costs

The National Labor and Relations Board has no unilateral power to order the reimbursement of attorneys and litigation expenses incurred during an NLRB meeting, according to the DC Circuit.

Although the power of the board is wide and expansive, the power to issue a "pay up, or else" order does not exist -- even in the face of repeated bad faith instances of NLRB violations.

DC Cir: No Link Between ACA 'Transition' Program and Health Insurance Premiums

A lawyer for the evangelical group American Freedom Law Center has lost his Obamacare suit in the D.C. Circuit on the grounds of lack of standing.

The appellate court ruled that the AFLCA and Robert Muise, it's co-founder and senior counsel, failed to prove beyond the standard of probability that the Health and Human Service's "transitional" program (allowing non-compliant health plans to continue temporarily) actually caused a jump in his health care premiums.

Obamacare is unconstitutional, a federal district judge ruled yesterday -- at least as far as the law's reimbursements to insurers are concerned. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must reduce co-payments and deductibles for low-income consumers. The federal government then reimburses insurers for those deductions, at the cost of several billion dollars a year.

But, the ACA did not specifically appropriate money for those reimbursements, and the Obama administration could not cover those payments under other provisions, the court ruled, without violating Congress's exclusive right to control government spending.

DC Circuit Sides With Gov't in TSA/Flight School Case

Unless the petitioner appeals to a higher power (SCOTUS, that is), it appears that the battle is over between a Venezuelan man and the TSA concerning his denial into flight school. The reasons for the denial? Security concerns. Of course, this raises several issues of due process.

Can the TSA block access to flight school based on what the lower court called "absurd" justifications? Apparently, yes.