U.S. Fourth Circuit - The FindLaw 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

July 2014 Archives

Pamela Harris Confirmed; Republican Senator Exasperated

It was barely a few months' time before a nominee was put forward to fill Senior Judge Andre Davis' seat. At the time, we were shocked; considering the number of vacancies nationwide, some of which were many years old, a vacancy being filled this quickly was basically a modern miracle.

Pamela Harris was the nominee. And only a few months later, she is now confirmed. Welcome to the Fourth Circuit, Judge Harris!

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Virginia Is for All Lovers: Gay Marriage Ban Fails in 4th Cir.

Gay marriage is now 24-0, undefeated in courts since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Windsor barely more than a year ago. The Fourth Circuit, applying strict scrutiny, held today that none of Virginia's arguments could justify discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples.

"We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws," Judge Henry Floyd wrote for the majority of the Fourth Circuit panel in Bostic v. Schaefer.

"The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual's life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance."

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4th Circuit Says Nah, D.C. Circuit. ACA Subsidies For All!

Seriously, when was the last time you saw a circuit split happen in a matter of hours? The law nerd inside of me is quivering right now, I tell you!

The D.C. Circuit read a statute, § 36B, which provides tax credits (subsidies, in essence) to qualifying low-income individuals who purchase plans though an "Exchange established by the State." To them, that text is pretty clear -- state exchanges are eligible for subsidies, while the federal Heathcare.gov exchange is not. It came to the decision "reluctantly," of course, as it notes that if its holding stands, Obamacare will collapse absent legislative intervention. We have more on the D.C. Circuit opinion, and the end of the world as we know it, in our D.C. Circuit coverage.

But wait, there's more: the Fourth Circuit (and a dissenting D.C. Circuit judge) came to a contrary conclusion. How?

Rule Change; Cert. Sought for NC Plates, Denied in Family Dollar

Happy Wednesday. We're still waiting on Bostic.

But that's not all that's happening in the Fourth Circuit. There's been a rule change regarding the number of briefs one must file with the court. (Oooh!) And the North Carolina "Choose Life" license plate dispute is headed to the Supreme Court -- they hope. (Aaahhh!) But Family Dollar, the losers in a class action certification dispute, won't be, after the Supreme Court quietly denied certiorari before heading on summer vacation. (Gasp!)

Read on for the roundup ...

VA: Photograph Teen's Penis to Get Him Not to Photograph His Penis

Boy meets girl. Both are teens. He, however, is seventeen. She, like the Taylor Swift song, is only fifteen.

Somebody in Prince William County, Virginia, however, is not a fan of teenage love (or lust). Now, because the young man did what lots of young people do with their smartphones, and responded to his former girlfriend's photos with a video of his penis, he's facing two felony child porn charges and the possibility of being a registered sex offender.

It gets worse: Prosecutors are so eager to prosecute the boy for photographing his own penis, that they not only took photos of his penis when he was arrested, but also have obtained a search warrant to take a photograph of his erect penis at a later date for comparison sake.