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

September 2014 Archives

D.C. District Judge Blocks Wyo. Wolf Hunting

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.

Chelsea Manning Sues Over Transgender Treatment in Prison

Back in 2010, Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was arrested for supplying WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents; he claimed his actions were rooted in the public's right to be aware of what the government was doing abroad.

Manning was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Shortly thereafter, Manning came out as transgender and wanted to be known as "Chelsea Manning," a request most news outlets have been happy to abide by.

Though Manning has repeatedly requested a treatment plan to accommodate her gender dysphoria, the Army has stalled. As a result, Manning -- through the ACLU -- filed a complaint Tuesday in the D.C. District Court alleging deliberate indifference to a serious medical need.

NSA Cell Phone Metadata Case Set for Nov. 4; Won't Be Televised

We were wondering when we'd hear more on the D.C. Circuit's NSA cell phone metadata case, especially after the Second Circuit allowed C-SPAN to livestream oral arguments in a parallel case earlier this month.

The answer? On November 4, unlike its sister circuit to the north, the D.C. Circuit will not be televising the revolution, reports Politico. Audio recordings are typically posted on the D.C. Circuit's website after oral arguments, however.

Here's a recap of the lower court's anti-NSA opinion and what's at stake in this case:

D.C. Cir. Affirms, Reverses in APA 'Assessment Fee' Case

The American Psychological Association (APA) is a nonprofit organization, so it can't use membership dues for lobbying. That's why the APA established a subsidiary, the APA Practice Organization (APAPO), to engage in the lobbying that the APA can't. Of course, the APA still can't shuttle any part of its membership dues into the APAPO, so it came up with a new tactic: including a line item for a separate "special assessment fee" in its members' dues statements. You can see where this is going: The special assessment fee doesn't go to the APA; instead, it goes to the APAPO.

APA members discovered that they actually couldn't be required to pay this special fee, even though their dues statements never said they didn't have to pay it. Several members sued under unjust enrichment and false advertising. The district court granted the APA's motions to dismiss. This appeal to the D.C. Circuit followed.

Obamacare Subsidies Case Granted Rehearing En Banc

Back in July, a curious thing happened: Two circuit courts of appeal, both addressing the same issue, released conflicting opinions within hours of each other. In the D.C. Circuit, the panel held that the language of the Affordable Care Act only authorized tax subsidies for low-income individuals who purchased insurance through state exchanges. A few hours later, and a few hours' drive south, the Fourth Circuit went the other way and agreed with the Internal Revenue Service's interpretation, which allows subsidies for those who purchase through the federal exchange.

The D.C. Circuit ruling was a massive blow to the federal program and could have meant the end of Obamacare. Could have, but might not, as the circuit just pulled its opinion and granted en banc review.

D.C. Police Liable for False Arrests at House Party

It's like a scene out of an after-school special: Police are called to the scene of a raucous house party, and finding illegal activity going on, they arrest everyone -- including the party's host, who, as it turns out, doesn't even live there.

That's more or less what the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police wanted the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to see. But the court saw quite the opposite: a party that wasn't in violation of any ordinances, admittedly no illegal activity going on, and a party host whose residency at the house wasn't so cut-and-dry.

Five of the partygoers sued the police for false arrest, and the D.C. Circuit Court affirmed a grant of summary judgment to them.