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When Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes tried to get married two years ago, they were told, "We don't do that in Texas." The couple sued, along with Nicole Dimetman and Cleo DeLeon, arguing that their relationship deserved equal legal rights and respect. They won in district court and, following the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, in the Fifth Circuit.

Now, they do do that in Texas. And Phariss and Holmes will get the chance to do it as well, as the couple will finally get their marriage license this Friday in San Antonio, Texas.

There's some big news for Bird Law practitioners out there. The Fifth Circuit has ruled that the oil and gas company Citgo did not violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act when it unintentionally killed birds who landed in an uncovered oil separator in Texas.

The Fifth's narrow reading of the MBTA, that it does not cover incidental or unintentional take of birds, puts it in line with the Eighth and Ninth Circuits in a growing circuit split on the reach of the Act.

3D printers promise to allow anyone to create complex objects at home. For a few hundred dollars, you can pick up a consumer-grade 3D printer and start printing out toys, architectural models, or firearms. Yep, it's pretty easy for anyone with a 3D printer to print out a gun in their living room -- guns that are powerful, unregulated, and even undetectable.

Aware of the risks posed by widespread hobbyist arms manufacturing, the State Department has ordered gun and tech enthusiasts to stop disturbing plans for 3D-printed guns online. One of those enthusiasts, gun activist and founder of Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson is challenging that order and should see his case in the Fifth Circuit soon.

Top 10 Posts From the 5th Cir. in 2014

Executing a crazy person? Preposterously one-sided arbitration agreements? A forklift is a motor vehicle? Yes, yes, and yes, said the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals over the course of the year.

The Fifth contains many, um, colorful cases. Ten of those were the most popular of the year, and here they are:

Texas, 16 Other States Sue Pres. Obama Over Immigration Orders

Last week, President Obama announced that he would be taking the initiative to craft immigration policy in the absence of congressional action. All of his actions come under the umbrella of enforcement. The president has no power to rewrite immigration law, but as the head of the executive branch, he can prioritize enforcement.

Republicans decried the move as outside his constitutional powers and threatened to sue. Last week, the Texas Attorney General, joined by 16 other states, sued the United States in the southern district of Texas. So what's their gripe about?

5th Circuit Clerk Lyle Cayce Writes Us About Court's Website

A few months back, I got a good chuckle out of a strange notice posted on the Fifth Circuit's website about the clerk's office declining to provide change to cash-paying customers. After How Appealing's Howard Bashman poked fun at the new policy, the court's clerk Lyle Cayce explained the intelligent rationale for the change to the change policy.

Still, when I wrote a mixed review of the Fifth Circuit's website, I didn't expect a response from Cayce. And I really didn't expect the court to make changes in response to my criticisms.

But they did both.

Judge Edith Jones Cleared in Bias Complaint; Appeal Coming

Last June, Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones was accused of making racist comments about a person's propensity for violent crime and otherwise biased comments about the death penalty. A week later, she was pulled off of a death penalty case.

How about a year later? It turns out that Judge Jones was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit (the complaint was transferred out of the Fifth Circuit, for obvious reasons) back in August, though the order was finally made public yesterday after the complainants filed an appeal, reports the ABA Journal.

The conclusion (for now): Jones' racial comments were not about racial predispositions, but were instead about statistics. And the death penalty comments? A mere musing on the viability of certain defenses that rarely succeed.

A Double Bench-Slapping and Appellate Advocacy Basics

The case? Thomas Roque v. Natchitoches Parish School Bd., in which Roque is alleging that he was denied a school superintendent position because of race-based discrimination.

During oral arguments for the case, Roque's attorney David Broussard got a quick lesson in Fifth Circuit appellate advocacy, courtesy of Fifth Circuit Judge E. Grady Jolly and District Court Judge Lance M. Africk (sitting by designation) in the form of a double bench-slapping.

Why? One word: interrupting. (H/T to Above the Law and NMissCommentor)

BP's Gross Negligence Caused Deepwater Horizon Spill: Dist. Judge

In a 153-page order issued today, a federal district judge in Louisiana ruled that the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill was the result of BP's recklessness. Heightening BP's culpability from negligence to recklessness could subject it to even greater fines.

Judge Carl Barbier's memorandum contains copious findings of fact and conclusions of law, the end product of two bench trials lasting eight months and consisting of In re Triton Asset Leasing GmbH, a suit consisting of thousands of civil claims, as well as impleader and interpleader actions by the various business entities involved with Deepwater Horizon, and United States v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., a suit against BP for civil penalties under various federal statutes.

5th Cir. Upholds, Strikes Parts of Texas Campaign Finance Law

If you want to form a general purpose political action committee in Texas that promotes a particular point of view, you first need to: (1) Appoint a treasurer and register with the Texas Election Commission, (2) collect contributions from 10 contributors, (3) wait 60 days before exceeding $500 in contributions and expenditures, and (4) never accept contributions from corporations unless your PAC engages only in independent expenditures.

On appeal, the Fifth Circuit upheld the treasurer requirement and (surprisingly) the ban on corporate contributions. However, it found the 60-day, $500 limit and the 10-contributor requirement unconstitutional.