DC Circuit

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


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.

Because the D.C. Circuit is the go-to circuit for questions involving the powers of the branches of government, the cases that come from this circuit, predictably, involve government authority.

So far this term, the Supreme Court has found at least one extremely polemical issue among other more prosaic questions of agency authority.

With a public evidentiary hearing looming on the issue of force feeding of Guantanamo detainees, a district court judge in Washington, D.C., issued two rulings that showed that she's not afraid of a showdown with her Article II counterparts: one keeping the ruling open to the public, and a second that should lead to the release of videos of the feedings.

The legal battle that is set to take place will be about whether the feedings are humane, while the battle for public opinion, which will be fought in the news during election season, could turn on the videos themselves, which will be partly redacted to hide the identities of Guantanamo staff, reports The New York Times.

When does a federal agency have "inherent authority"? Not in this case, according to the D.C. Circuit Court in Ivy Sports Medicine v. Burwell.

ReGen Biologics made a device called a Collagen Scaffold for use in knee surgery. ReGen began the process of obtaining FDA approval for the device in 2004. In 2006, several members of Congress from New Jersey, where ReGen is based, expressed concern about the review process. In 2008, the FDA ultimately classified the Collagen Scaffold as a Class II device, which requires less regulation.

But months after getting the approval, a Wall Street Journal article alleged "political pressure" in the Collagen Scaffold approval process. Members of Congress expressed umbrage (no doubt in the most public ways possible) and the FDA investigated, finding that ReGen was a little too close to FDA officials, who didn't follow standard procedures when approving the Collagen Scaffold. The FDA summarily reclassified the device as a Class III device, which had the practical effect of making it unmarketable unless ReGen applied all over again.

Grab yer guns and head out of Wyoming fellas, cuz there ain't no wolf huntin' here, at least for now.

A couple of years ago, we brought you the big news: Gray wolves were being taken off the Endangered Species Act (ESA) list after 10 years of waiting, all thanks to a bit of language slapped on to a defense bill. (Thanks Congress!) Once Congress cleared the federal red tape, it was up to the states to give the all-clear for wolf hunting.

Montana and Idaho were on board. Wyoming joined too. But last week, some namby-pamby judge in Washington, D.C., decided that Wyoming's laws weren't protective enough, and called a cease fire on fun.