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

July 2014 Archives

Obamacare Origination Challenge Rejected by D.C. Cir. Panel

The U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius wasn't the last challenge to the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"); oh, no, not by a long shot. As you'll recall, Chief Justice John Roberts decided that, while the ACA's individual mandate and accompanying penalty wasn't a valid exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause authority, it was permissible as a tax.

Enter Timothy Sandefur, who represented the petitioner in Sissel v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. He made the too-clever-by-half contention that, if the ACA is a tax, then it should have originated in the House of Representatives, as the Constitution requires of all spending bills. Because it originated in the Senate, the law is unconstitutional.

Nice try, but the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals wasn't having it.

Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.

D.C. District Court Strikes Open Carry Ban; Appeal Expected

Chalk up another "W" for Alan Gura, the Second Amendment Foundation, and concealed carry advocates everywhere.

Washington, D.C., is home of some of the nation's most stringent gun laws, including a handgun registration requirement and a complete ban on concealed or open carrying outside of one's home. Or at least it was: It may soon have a pretty lax carrying policy after the District's ban was struck down by a federal district court.

Of course, appeals will likely follow, and stays could be issued, but for now, D.C. police will not be charging nonresidents with violating carrying laws if they are legally allowed to carry in their home states. As for residents, as long as the handgun is registered in accordance with D.C. law, carrying is permissible. As always, felons, spouse-beaters, and other individuals prohibited from owning firearms need not apply.

Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.

D.C. Cir.: Obamacare Subsidies for States Only; 4th Cir. Disagrees

This might be the quickest circuit split we've ever seen: Within hours of each other, the D.C. Circuit and the Fourth Circuit each ruled on parallel challenges to Obamacare subsidies provided to individuals who purchase insurance through the federal exchange.

The D.C. Circuit "reluctantly" ruled against the government, holding that the unambiguous text of the statute, which provides only for subsides for insurance policies "enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State," supports the plaintiffs' contention that the IRS was not authorized to provide tax credits individuals using the federal exchange. A dissenting judge from the D.C. Circuit, as well as the Fourth Circuit, disagreed, holding that the language of the statute as a whole is ambiguous, and that the IRS's interpretation was a "permissible exercise of the agency's discretion."

It's an instant circuit split, one that could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court as early as next term, depending on whether en banc review in the two courts is sought or granted.

Sexual assault against women in the military is an unfortunate reality. As more and more women are speaking out, bringing the issue to national attention, so are more women trying to get legal remedies. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as one would think.

Twelve military women learned the hard way that sometimes justice is not served. Read on to learn more about their legal claims against the Secretary of Defense, and why those claims failed.

We wouldn't exactly call the D.C. Circuit the sleeper circuit, but let's just say that since it covers a small area, big headlines aren't made as frequently as say, the Second or Ninth Circuit. Not so, lately. As the Court sits in our nation's capital, it's getting politically charged lately with high profile cases making their way into the circuit.

Here's an update on changes to the bench, impending trials and controversies.