U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

9th Circuit March 2017 News

Two weeks ago, a district court in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order, barring the implementation of President Trump's most recent travel ban while the state contested its constitutionality. Now that bar is much less temporary. Yesterday, Judge Derrick Watson agreed to convert that TRO into a preliminary injunction, one that will continue to block the rollout of Trump's ban for the foreseeable future.

That means it's aloha to the TRO and aloha to a longer-lasting PI.

More and more Americans are cutting their cables and ditching their TVs, choosing to consume their video entertainment through online streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. But as online streamers begin to encroach on the realm of cable and broadcast TV, are they entitled to the same treatment as companies like Comcast or Viacom?

Not according to the Ninth Circuit. In a ruling this Tuesday, Fox Television Stations v. Aereokiller, the court rejected an attempt by FilmOn, an internet-based TV rebroadcaster, to obtain a compulsory cable license under the Copyright Act of 1976. The court must defer, it explained, to the Copyright Office's determination that internet rebroadcasting just wasn't the same as cable.

A three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit upheld an order blocking President Trump's first travel ban last month. The administration subsequently reissued a new executive order replacing the first and voluntarily dismissed its appeal to the earlier injunction. That should be the end of that debate, right?

Not exactly. One Ninth Circuit judge wanted the court to rehear the case en banc and vacate the panel opinion, despite the dismissal. Last week, the Ninth declined. But in doing so, the judges revealed a sharp split in the circuit.

President Trump's most recent travel ban was halted yesterday evening by a federal judge in Hawaii, just hours before it was scheduled to go into effect. The executive order would have temporarily halted travel and immigration from six majority-Muslim nations, while stopping refugee resettlement generally.

In a harshly worded ruling, Judge Derrick K. Watson halted enforcement of the ban nationwide, saying that any "reasonable, objective observer" would recognize the order as disfavoring Islam, "in spite of its stated, religiously-neutral purpose".

FBI May Withhold Records About Spying on Journalists

Turning down journalists' claims about how the FBI spied on them, a federal judge ruled that the FBI adequately responded to their request for information about the agency's rules for warrantless searches.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation alleged the FBI hid information about spying on at least seven journalists, but the FBI said it had produced sufficient information about its practices under the Freedom of Information Act.

"While the FBI's search may not have been perfect, plaintiff was 'entitled to a reasonable search for records, not a perfect one,'" U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Gilliam wrote in Freedom of the Press Foundation v. United States Department of Justice.

President Trump's travel ban was halted a month ago by a federal judge in Seattle. Last Monday, the President issued a new, revised ban, a slightly adjusted version of the original executive order, now better tailored to withstand legal challenges.

The new ban is scheduled to go into effect this Thursday -- but not if several states have their way. Washington, Hawaii, and others are rushing to halt the new order before it can be implemented.

The Ninth Circuit has weighed in on a growing circuit split over Dodd-Frank's whistleblower protections, reading the statute broadly to encompass internal whistleblowers as well as those who work with the SEC.

The case stems from a lawsuit brought by Paul Somers, former VP of Digital Realty Trust, Inc., a data center company. Somers suit alleges that he was fired after reporting potential securities law violations to the company's senior management. He accused the company of violating Section 21F of the Exchange Act, which includes the whistleblower protections established by Dodd-Frank.

Tribe Has Groundwater Rights in Coachella, 9th Cir. Rules

In a case that may affect tribal rights nationally, a federal appeals court ruled that an Indian tribe has rights to groundwater in California's Coachella Valley.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said that federal laws granted the native tribe rights to the underground water more than 100 years ago, even though the tribe had not exercised the rights until recently. The decision, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District, is the first to recognize the reserved water right.

"[W]e hold that the Tribe has a reserved right to groundwater underlying its reservation as a result of the purpose for which the reservation was established," the unanimous panel said.

Hawaii will file the first legal challenge to President Trump's revised travel ban today, according to the state. Hawaii alleges that the new executive order violates due process and establishes an unconstitutional religious preference, claims similar to those that halted Trump's first ban.

The filing comes the same day that Trump's administration withdrew its appeal of a federal court order halting enforcement of the original ban.

Ever see contemporary art and think "I could do that." Well, actually doing it could cost you a pretty penny, as one real estate billionaire recently found out. Igor Olenicoff, the 156th richest person in the world, was accused of ripping off the work of Donald Wakefield. A federal jury awarded Wakefield $450,000 -- though the court intervened, allowingOlenicoff to walk away without paying a dime.

Until now. On Monday, the Ninth Circuit upheld the jury's award, as well as the court's ordered destruction of the knock-off sculptures.

President Trump issued a revised version of his controversial immigration executive order this morning. The new EO is largely similar to the previous version, with some important changes meant to insulate it from legal challenges. Permanent residents and visa holders are no longer covered by the ban, for example, while a preference for Christians and other religious minorities has been dropped.

But what will the new order mean for the litigation currently playing out in federal courts, including Washington State's ongoing challenge to the previous order?