U.S. Eleventh Circuit - The FindLaw 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

July 2014 Archives

Fla. Law Upheld: Doctors Can't Ask Patients About Gun Ownership

In a 2-1 decision, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Florida statute prohibiting doctors from asking about patients' gun ownership. The Eleventh Circuit's opinion reverses a controversial District Court decision -- known in the media as "Docs v. Glocks" -- that found the law unconstitutional.

The Firearm Owners Privacy Act, passed in 2011, prevents a physician from inquiring into a patient's firearm ownership unless that ownership is relevant to the patient's medical care. Violation of the law could lead to a physician's license being suspended or revoked, along with a $10,000 fine.

The statute followed an American Medical Association policy enactment encouraging doctors to talk to patients about firearms in homes with children, according to The Christian Science Monitor. Almost immediately after the law's passage, several doctors and medical organizations sued the state of Florida, alleging that the law infringed on their First Amendment free speech rights.

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Another Fla. Court Rules for Gay Marriage; State Appeals

First it was Monroe County. Then, late last week, it was Miami-Dade County. And if the plaintiffs have their way, it'll soon be the entire state of Florida.

Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel held Friday that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional in a case that only applies to Miami-Dade County. The decision came a little more than a week after Circuit Judge Luis Garcia's similar decision in Monroe County. Both decisions are expected to be appealed, but the plaintiff-appellees in the Monroe County case are asking that the process be expedited by skipping the state appeals court and heading straight to the Florida Supreme Court.

If the motion is granted, a decision by the Florida Supreme Court would have statewide effect. If not, a parallel challenge to the state's ban in federal court could have the same effect. A decision in the federal case is expected soon.

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Judge Julie Carnes Confirmed to Eleventh Circuit

On Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Julie Carnes to a position on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Atlanta.

Judge Carnes graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law. She clerked for Judge Lewis R. Morgan of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, then served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia from 1978 to 1990. She also served as Commissioner of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 1990 to 1996.

First Pro-Gay Marriage Ruling in Florida Arrives: 5 Takeaways

We've seen court after court after court, including a federal circuit court of appeal, rule in favor of gay marriage. But courts in the Eleventh Circuit have been conspicuously silent on the issue -- until now.

This afternoon, Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garica overturned Florida's 2008 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It's a narrow victory for gay rights proponents in Florida -- it only applies to Monroe County (the Florida Keys) -- but with four cases in the state racing towards decisions, it's a good sign of things to come, and yet another entry in a long winning streak for gay marriage nationwide.

Here are a few takeaways from the decision:

Fishy Application of Sarbanes-Oxley's Ban on Evidence Destruction

One fish, two fish, red fish, short fish?

John L. Yates is a commercial fisherman. In 2007, he was hauling in some red grouper when a fisheries officer boarded his ship to inspect his haul. After measuring the fish and finding that some of them were less than the minimum size of 20 inches, he issued Yates a citation and set aside the short fish for inspection at the docks.

Yates had his crew toss the short fish overboard and replace them with other fish. He was later convicted for violating an evidence destruction provision of the the Sarbanes-Oxley Act banking reform statute, passed in the wake of the Enron scandal. He's appealing that conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the vague statute has no place in the Gulf of Mexico.

11th Cir. Grants Injunction Against Contraception Exemption Form

Hobby Lobby was about a lot of things: religious rights of corporations, substantial burdens, compelling interests in contraception, readily available alternative means to provide contraception, and dictionaries. The end result was this: closely held corporations with religious owners can't be forced to pay for health coverage that provides contraception, especially since there is an existing exemption program for religious nonprofits that these employers could easily be wedged into.

But what if that exemption program itself, which requires the organization to fill out a form and find a third-party administrator to provide contraceptive coverage on the government's dime, is a burden on religion? The Little Sisters of the Poor were the first to make this argument, and the Supreme Court stepped in to grant an injunction. The Eleventh Circuit did the same for EWTN, a Catholic television network, mere hours after Hobby Lobby, with a surprising special concurrence by Judge Bill Pryor.