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The White House has announced President Donald Trump's pick for the vacant seat on D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: Gregory Katsas, the current deputy counsel in the White House Counsel's Office.

If Katsas is confirmed by the Senate, the conservative seat vacated by Judge Janice Rogers Brown will be filled by another conservative. Katsas, whose distinguished legal career has never included serving as a justice, is expected to be questioned as to his prior casework as an attorney, as well as his motivations and politics, given his close ties to the current White House.

Circuit Strikes EPA Ban on Aerosol Chemical

Somewhere in the contentious air over climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency went too far.

A federal appeals court said that happened when the EPA banned hydrofluorocarbons, a chemical found in aerosol spray cans that scientists have linked to global warming. The agency has authority to outlaw ozone-depleting chemicals, but HFC's are not ozone-depleting.

"Here, EPA has tried to jam a square peg (regulating non-ozone-depleting substances that may contribute to climate change) into a round hole (the existing statutory landscape)," Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in Mexichem Fluor, Inc. v. Environmental Protection Agency.

DC Circuit Takes on the 'Case of the Incredible Shrinking Seat'

It's not your imagination if you think airline seats are getting smaller. Even the U.S Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has taken note.

"As many have no doubt noticed, aircraft seats and the spacing between them have been getting smaller and smaller, while American passengers have been growing in size," Judge Patricia Millett wrote in Flyers Rights Education Fund v. Federal Aviation Administration.

DC Circuit Judge on Drones: 'Our Democracy Is Broken'

Judge Janice Rogers Brown said courts should not step into political issues, like deciding whether the United States wrongfully killed bystanders in a drone attack.

Then the judge told us how she really felt about it.

"Our democracy is broken," she wrote in Ahmed Salem Bin Ali Jaber v. United States. "We must, however, hope that it is not incurably so."

Net Neutrality Rules Stand -- for Now

A federal appeals court let stand a decision upholding net neutrality rules, staying the course in a three-way race among internet service providers, government and consumers over the fate of the controversial rules.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia refused to rehear last year's ruling, which held that internet service providers were common carriers and could not regulate internet traffic. The decisions are a setback to ISPs that sued the Federal Communications Commission, but the court pointed out that the contest over net neutrality is far from over.

"The agency will soon consider adopting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would replace the existing rule with a markedly different one," the appeals court said in United States Telecom Association v. FCC. "In that light, the en banc court could find itself examining, and pronouncing on, the validity of a rule that the agency had already slated for replacement."

Timber Industry Wins Round Against Spotted Owl

Although it may ruffle the feathers of environmentalists, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the timber industry and against the spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said a lumber association has standing to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its designation of 9.5 million acres of land as a critical habitat for the northern spotted owl. The decision revives a lawsuit by the American Forest Resource Council that claimed the regulation cut back the industry in California, Oregon, and Washington.

"The Council has demonstrated a substantial probability that the critical habitat designation will cause a decrease in the supply of timber from the designated forest lands, that Council members obtain their timber from those forest lands, and that Council members will suffer economic harm as a result of the decrease in the timber supply from those forest lands," the appellate panel said in Carpenters Industrial Council v. Zinke.

The EPA, now under new management, wants to delay litigation over its 2015 smog standard. The agency asked the D.C. Circuit last week to put off upcoming oral arguments in an appeal challenging the standard. On Tuesday, the circuit complied, postponing arguments while the EPA reconsidered its position.

The standard, intended to reduce air pollution and prevent lung and heart disease, was challenged by ten state attorneys general, including Scott Pruitt, who has now become the EPA's Administrator. The delay gives the agency time to review the regulation "to determine whether the Agency should reconsider the rule or some part of it."

Will Anthem Win Its Fights to Save Merger Deal With Cigna?

As Anthem lawyers argued to save a proposed merger with Cigna in a federal appeals court, the words of the trial judge still hung in the air:

"There's an elephant in the room," U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said, describing the tension between the health care giants. Noting that Cigna's own lawyer had undermined Anthem's forecasts for the acquisition, Jackson struck down the merger six weeks ago on the grounds it would hurt the competition.

The tension between the companies has reached the breaking point since then. Cigna is now suing Anthem in another court over the blocked merger for a $1.85 billion termination fee, plus $13 billion in damages for its shareholders. Fighting on two fronts, Anthem has doubled down in the high-stakes game. Christopher Curren, Anthem's lawyer, told the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that it is about the consumer.

"This is dollars in the consumer's pocket," he said with a poker face.

Court Sends NLRB Back to Deal With Automatic Deductions for Dues

In what the dissent called a "hot potato," a divided appeals court said the National Labor Relations Board erred in rejecting the claims of grocery workers who had cancelled automatic deductions for their dues.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia remanded the case back to the board to reconsider its decision in Stewart v. National Labor Relations Board. The Arizona workers had authorized their employer to deduct union dues, but later resigned from the union and revoked their authorization.

"An employee's authorization for her employer to check off union dues from her wages is not irrevocable," Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote for the court.

Investors in Fannie and Freddie Lose Post-Bailout Profit

Have you ever worried about how you were going make that next payment on your house or apartment?

Now think about how it must have been in 2008, when the nation's largest mortgage lenders were about $200 billion short. It was a mortgage crisis that triggered the Great Recession, America's biggest economic meltdown in almost a century.

It may feel like those days are behind us, but they aren't for everybody. Investors in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest lenders at the time, say they did not get the money they were due in the subsequent economic recovery. And a federal court of appeals just made it a little more difficult for those investors.