DC Circuit

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

District Judge Richard Leon has twice ordered the NSA to halt its massive, once-secret collection of telephone metadata. Twice his rulings have been overturned by the D.C. Circuit. Now, in the most recent blow to NSA lawsuits, the D.C. Circuit has refused to rehear a challenge en banc.

The D.C. Circuit's rulings have largely been procedural -- touching on standing or the appropriateness of a preliminary injunction, for example. The most recent denial was just a sentence long. But, D.C. Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wasn't content with just a denial. He took the opportunity to expound on the NSA's metadata collection all together. The gist: the massive surveillance doesn't bother him at all.

The Federal Election Commission's campaign disclosure rule was back before the D.C. Circuit last week -- and just in time for a ramped up election season. The disclosure rules in question require groups that spend more than $10,000 annually on electioneering to disclose donors who give more than $1,000 for political ads.

Some critics see that as no disclosure rule at all, but a guide to avoiding disclosure. Want to finance political advertising but remain secret? Just don't say your donations need to be used for ads. Lead by Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, they've spent years challenging the rule.

6 New DC Superior Court Candidates for Obama to Consider

The retirements of Hon. Ann O'Regan Keary and Hon. Harold L. Cushenberry, Jr. from the DC Superior Court leave vacancies that the Judicial Nomination Commission is eager to fill. The Commission recently forwarded a list of nominees to President Obama.

Congress's Democratic leaders want the D.C. Circuit to know they are anything but neutral when it comes to net neutrality. More than two dozen congressional senators and representatives have signed on to an amicus brief supporting the FCC's right to regulate Internet service providers as "common carriers."

The amicus brief puts the Congress members, lead by Senator Edward Markey and Representative Anna Eshoo, against the telecom industry, which has sued to prevent the FCC's new net neutrality rules.

The NSA can continue its controversial mass phone metadata collection now, after the D.C. Circuit threw out a lower court injunction against the program on Friday. The D.C. Circuit panel found that the plaintiff, conservative lawyer Larry Klayman, had not shown a likelihood that he would succeed on the merits sufficient enough to support a preliminary injunction.

The ruling is a rare win for the NSA these days. It comes two years after Edward Snowden exposed the agency's secret, massive data collection program and on the heels of a Second Circuit ruling that such collection is not lawful. The program itself has not been renewed by Congress and is set to expire in upcoming months -- but, as the D.C. Circuit notes, it's not gone yet.

The D.C. Circuit has once again struck down a part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which required companies to disclose if their products used conflict minerals. Conflict minerals, gold, tantalum, tin, and tungsten, are the less shiny cousins of blood diamonds. They generally come from war torn areas of the Congo, where armed factions use child soldiers and child laborers in a fight to profit off the area's natural resources. With their origin in deep African mines and deeper human rights abuses, the products find their way into gold jewelry, electronics, computers and even children's games.

Dodd-Frank sought to address the humanitarian crises surrounding these minerals by requiring companies to disclose whether they used them. It was an attempt to shame companies into avoiding conflict minerals and, thus, potentially to undermine the strength of the military groups fighting for control over their production. It was also, the D.C. Circuit ruled, a violation of corporations' First Amendment rights.

American music would be much worse without college radio. College radio stations helped bring us The Pixies and music-snob mags like CMJ. Your local college radio station is one of the few places willing to let kids spin avant-garde African pop for an hour every week.

But college radio is much less actual radio, these days. Many college radio stations have taken to streaming their music live over the Internet, to potentially much larger audiences. That means more royalty fees, fees the D.C. Circuit just upheld this Tuesday.

The D.C. Circuit has revived a challenge to the constitutionality of the Dodd-Frank Act. A small Texas bank, State National Bank of Big Spring, had challenged the constitutionality of the Wall Street Reform Act. It was joined by 11 states, who also took issue with the Act.

Dod-Frank, you'll remember, was passed in 2010 in an effort to reform the banking industry and prevent a repeat of the financial collapses that began the "Great Recession" of 2007 to 2009. The district court had tossed the challenge, arguing that the bank and States had no standing, but the D.C. Circuit disagreed, breathing new life into at least half the claims.

A law prohibiting political contributions by federal contractors was upheld by a unanimous, en banc D.C. Circuit last week. The eleven judge panel ruled that the law does not violate the First Amendment or equal protection rights of government contractors, the court ruled.

The law was first adopted in 1940, over concerns that businesses would use campaign contributions to influence the government contract process. Those concerns are still valid today, the Court ruled, justifying the narrowly drawn restrictions of the law.

Alternative Title: AT&T Can Ban Union 'Inmate' Shirt, D.C. Circuit Rules

It can be hard to organize workers and wage a successful grassroots labor campaign. Sometimes, theatrics are called for. That's what motivates carpenters to inflate giant rats outside non-union construction sites and museum workers to 'bomb' the Guggenheim with protest fliers. That might also be the impetus behind AT&T Connecticut employees donning shirts that said "Inmate" and "Prisoner of AT$T" when interacting with customers.

After AT&T banned the "Inmate" apparel, the NLRB ruled 2-1 that employees must be allowed to wear the protest shirts. Sadly, Connecticuters can no longer look forward to the spectacle of seeing an AT&T customer service representative fix their cable in a prison costume. "Common sense" requires the NLRB's decision to be overturned, the D.C. Circuit ruled today.