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

March 2016 Archives

No, it's not 2003 anymore, but Netflix still sends millions of DVDs through the Postal Service every week. Indeed, Netflix alone purchases 97 percent of the U.S. Postal Service's "round-trip" mailers, the products that allow you to return a mailed DVD with an enclosed envelope, no extra postage necessary.

Currently, the law restricts how much the Postal Service can charge for those mailers. USPS had recently sought to change that, seeking to raise rates on those red envelopes, but their request was denied by the Postal Regulatory Commission. The Service sued, but the D.C. Circuit declined to undo the Commission's ruling on Tuesday. Netflix customers, your DVD deliveries are safe for now.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Supreme Court nominee. This morning, President Obama put forth Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit, as a potential replacement for the seat vacated more than a month ago, when Justice Antonin Scalia passed away.

Garland is a moderate liberal, respected as a "brilliant" jurist by attorneys, judges, and politicians of all stripes. And in his nineteen years on the D.C. Circuit, he's had plenty of time to build that reputation. So let's take a look at some of Judge Merrick Garland's most important D.C. Circuit opinions.

A lawsuit challenging the permitting of a waste incinerator in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, failed in the D.C. Circuit last Friday, as the court of appeals ruled the Sierra Club de Puerto Rico was almost 36 years too late in bringing its Clean Air Act challenge.

The incinerator plant, which is expected to release 0.31 tons of lead air pollution annually, is new. But the rule governing its permitting is not, dating back to 1980. The Sierra Club had failed to show any "after-arising grounds" for challenging the rule, the court ruled.

The Fish and Wildlife Service did not violate the law when it removed the dunes sagebrush lizard from consideration for endangered species protection, a unanimous D.C. panel ruled on Tuesday. The dunes sagebrush lizard had been up for protection for years, but FWS reversed course and stopped considering endangered species protections in 2012, after Texas and New Mexico adopted voluntary conservation measures.

The dunes sagebrush lizard lives in a small area of southeastern New Mexico and Texas, which just happens to be prime oil land. Oil companies had feared that a win for the lizard could hinder oil production in the Permian Basin, the largest oil patch in the nation.