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President Can Fire Agency Head Only for Cause

During his State of the Union address, President Trump urged Congress to allow government officials to fire workers who "undermine the public trust or fail the American people."

But under a federal court decision issued the next day, it's not going to be that easy even for the president. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the head of a consumer protection agency can only be fired for cause.

PHH Corporation v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not a big setback for the "You're fired" president, but it is a huge affirmation of the power of an administrative agency.

Reporters Get Win in 'Fake Reporters' Case

With continued political spin, "fake news" has come to mean "news reports that are not true." It's a political definition.

But there is another kind of "fake news." It's when the government or others pretend to be reporters and disseminate false information.

That's what the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is looking for -- records that FBI agents impersonated reporters for its investigations. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia says the "real press" is entitled to it.

Despite having never served on the bench, President Trump's current White House attorney, and the former assistant attorney general under George W. Bush, Gregory Katsas, has been confirmed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

While never having been a judge might jar some people, the ABA had given Katsas its highest rating of "well qualified," and for good reason. Katsas, before becoming President Trump's deputy counsel in the White House, was a respected appellate attorney, and has an education and background that is rather impressive.

Recreational Elk Hunting Does Not Require Yearly NEPA Review

The 'Jackson Herd' is one of the largest elk herds in North America.

If you have seen a postcard of the majestic Grand Teton National Park, the herd may have been in the picture. Thousands of the animals roam the park and the neighboring National Elk Refuge.

Kent Nelson and Timothy Mayo, wildlife photographers, sued to stop a government plan to allow more elk hunting in the national park. Denying the challenge, the DC Circuit told the plaintiffs to move on.

Court Blocks Trump's Transgender Military Ban

As a federal judge blocked President Trump's order against transgender people in the military, his transgender ban and travel bans started to sound alike.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued an injunction against Trump's directive on transgender military members, which he had dumbed down after a political backlash in July. Instead of a ban, the President said in August that transgender service members could be discharged.

It's more of the same, however, as the courts have pushed back repeatedly against the President's executive orders. Assuming more of his advisers are not indicted, Trump will probably appeal.

English-Only Emergency Alerts Backed by Circuit Court

The hurricane was long gone by the time the plaintiffs got to court.

They petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to order broadcasters to issue warnings in multiple languages. After all, the storm had destroyed many immigrant communities.

But the FCC tabled the idea for non-English alerts, and now a federal appeals court has upheld that decision. That was for Hurricane Katrina -- 12 years ago.

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."