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

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President Trump's revised travel ban was blocked by federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii less than a month ago, when both courts ruled that the executive order, which halted travel and immigration from six majority-Muslim nations, likely violated the Establishment Clause.

Now, the Fourth Circuit has agreed to hear the initial appeal from the Maryland court's ruling en banc, bypassing the typical three-judge panel altogether.

Gavin Grimm just wanted to use the bathroom, but he ended up become the face of transgender civil rights. Grimm, a transgender student in Virginia, sued his school board after it refused to allow him to use the bathroom that matched his gender identity. He won a landmark victory in the Fourth Circuit and was on his way to the Supreme Court when the Trump administration repealed protections for students like Grimm, essentially ending his case.

Now Grimm's legal battle (and his high school years) are winding down. But even though his lawsuit didn't result in a conclusive victory, Grimm remains a civil rights hero, according to judges on the Fourth Circuit.

In determining the constitutionality of President Trump's travel ban executive order, courts shouldn't look back to Trump's statements as a candidate, the Department of Justice says. District courts in Maryland and Hawaii blocked Trump's newest travel ban two weeks ago, finding it to be likely unconstitutional. Both judges relied significantly on the president's public statements when doing so.

In a brief filed with the Fourth Circuit last Friday, the DOJ argues that the travel ban does not discriminate on the basis of religion, despite Trump's calls for a "Muslim ban" during his presidential campaign. Considering such statements would be impermissible "second-guessing" of the president's stated purpose, the brief argues.

The Supreme Court this morning vacated and remanded a Fourth Circuit ruling in favor of Gavin Grimm, a transgender Virginia student who had sought to use the boy's room at his high school. The Fourth ruled last April that courts must defer to Department of Education guidance on the issue, guidance that interpreted Title IX as requiring transgender students to be treated in accordance to their gender identity, even when it came to bathrooms.

But the Trump administration has since rescinded that guidance, leading the Supreme Court to toss the Fourth's ruling and send the issue back to the lower courts.

An en banc Fourth Circuit upheld Maryland's 2013 Firearm Safety Act on Tuesday. That law, passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting that left 20 first graders dead, banned assault weapons and high capacity magazines -- the very type of weapons common in mass shootings.

But the Fourth didn't just rule that the law withstood scrutiny under the Second Amendment. It ruled that the targeted weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment at all.

The Fourth Circuit ruled on Monday, in an en banc decision, that police are justified in frisking individuals with concealed firearms, regardless of whether that individual could have a concealed carry permit or not. The fact that someone may have a concealed carry permit does not make it unreasonable for an officer to search them, "for the officer's protection and the safety of everyone at the scene," the Fourth ruled.

The decision, U.S. v. Robinson, is in tension with a Sixth Circuit opinion from 2015 and could result in the Supreme Court taking up this developing circuit split.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday acted to stay an order that would have required North Carolina to redraw its state legislative districts by March 15th and hold special elections in the fall. That order, issued by a three-judge federal district court in November, came after the panel found that the state's legislative districts were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

But that's not the only North Carolina redistricting issue before the Court right now. Just a few weeks earlier, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging two federal districts that have been described by a district court as a "textbook example of racial gerrymandering."

A prosecutor's reliance on 'racially coded references' during sentencing entitled a South Carolina death row inmate to a new sentencing trial, the Fourth Circuit ruled on Monday. The prosecutor's comments during sentencing, including likening the defendant to King Kong and calling him "caveman" and "beast," so imbued the proceedings with racial bias that the defendant was denied a fair proceeding, the Fourth found.

The Fourth's decision upholds a district court ruling tossing the sentencing of Johnny Bennett for murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery, highlighting the way indirect racist appeals can undermine the legal process.

North Carolina Vows to Appeal Voter ID Ruling -- Without AG Cooper

North Carolina is going to appeal the last week's predictable ruling that overturned the state's photo ID law, and it's going at it alone without its attorney general.

Yes, it's dissent within the ranks. North Carolina AG Roy Cooper has said that the state tried its hardest to defend the controversial photo ID law -- but it lost. Now his involvement in the suit has come to an end. Governor Pat McCrory almost immediately denounced Cooper (who will challenge him for his position in November) by painting the latter as a turncoat.

The Fourth Circuit overturned North Carolina's voter identification law this morning -- and it didn't pull any punches in doing so. In a blistering, strongly-worded opinion, the court found that the North Carolina legislature enacted the voter ID requirement and ended same-day voter registration and preregistration "with discriminatory intent."

It apparently didn't take the Fourth Circuit too long to reach these conclusions, either. The ruling comes just three months after a federal district court upheld the voting law and little over a month following oral arguments.