U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Judge Says Tax Break for Clergy Unconstitutional

Judge Barbara Crabb is the kind to say, 'I told you so.'

In 2013, she said a tax break for clergy housing was unconstitutional. Four years and one appeal later, she said it again.

In a 47-page decision designed to withstand another appeal, the federal judge basically said, "Didn't you hear me the first time?"

Judicial Nominee Barely Passes Senate Test

When somebody starts by saying, "It's not about this...," that's a big hint that it really is about that.

So it seemed for judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chairman Chuck Grassley, who voted for the nominee, said he was "surprised and disheartened" by Democrats' questions involving her faith.

"Their questions strongly implied that she's too Catholic for their taste, whatever it means to be 'too Catholic,'" Grassley said.

Blogging Professors Can Bring Free Speech Claims Against University

If caustic blogs were a knife in the back, a battle between faculty and administration may have stabbed the deepest at Chicago State Univeristy.

The struggling university, which laid off 300 employees last year due to budget cuts, is facing a lawsuit that could be the final blow. Professors Phillip Beverly and Robert Bionaz sued school officials for violating their free speech rights and for retaliation.

In Beverly v. Watson, a federal judge says the professors may continue their case. While it champions freedom of speech, however, it's also a tawdry tale.

Fresh off the bench, Judge Richard Posner, or Dick, as Chief Judge Diane Wood calls him, has been stirring up some controversy on the court he used to serve. His new books explains his belief that pro se litigants don't get a fair shake in his former circuit, and not surprisingly, the justices still sitting on the bench in the Seventh Circuit disagree.

In a statement provided by Judge Wood to Above the Law, she explains that Dick is alone in his view that the staff attorneys don't do a good a job for pro se litigants, or disfavor pro se litigants. She calls his views "assumptions."

In 2015, a new anti-puppy mill law took effect in Chicago that changed the landscape for pet stores. The law prohibits pet retailers from sourcing animals from anywhere except government run animal shelters, or animal control, or non-profit pet rescues, or pet shelters. Basically, pet stores are no longer able to source animals from pet breeders.

The law was not passed to put the squeeze on pet stores, but rather to protect consumers and save tax payers money as the city spends $500,000 annually to euthanize animals (some of which are adoptable). As one might expect, pet stores and breeders banded together to file a lawsuit to stop this new law. After losing at the district court level, the pet stores and breeders suffered another loss in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, after a rather long wait. The case was argued back in May 2016, but the decision just issued September 21, 2017.

Judge Richard Posner is perhaps the most interesting judge in the world (quick, someone call Dos Equis). The popular and widely celebrated (by legal correspondents, reporters, journalists, and writers) jurist recently announced his retirement. After serving on the bench for decades, Judge Posner explained that he felt like he was wasting precious time.

The once fiscal conservative and Reagan appointee has embraced his new role as a liberal voice for progressive change in society, and doesn't want to waste time on the bench when he can put his own boots on the ground. Given his personal politics, and his proclivity for passionate, powerful, and Posnerific opinions, it's no wonder that the internet has skyrocketed the jurist into the canon of American cultural icons.

As we've enjoyed writing about Judge Posner over the years, below you'll find a list of the top ten most popular FindLaw blog posts about Judge Posner, which provide a good sample of his most crazy opinions, and, of course, his most epic benchslaps.

Court to Consider Attorney's Fees in Prison Beating Case

After all that Charles Murphy suffered at the hands of prison guards, his case is going to the U.S. Supreme Court over another issue: attorney's fees.

The High Court has docketed the case, Murphy v. Smith, to decide whether a portion of a judgment means "up to 25 percent" or "exactly 25 percent" for attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that Murphy has to pay 25 percent of the fees from his award.

Murphy's attorneys, who won a $307,733 judgment, said the appeals court cut too much into the recovery for attorney's fees to be paid by the plaintiff. They want the defendants -- prison guards who beat him -- to pay more.

News broke at the end of last week that the fan favorite judge of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the Honorable Richard Posner, was retiring. Here at FindLaw, we're big fans of the Pos -- after all, he's perhaps one of the most entertaining judges in U.S. history.

To honor one of our all time favorite Your Honors, below, you'll find a few of our favorite Posner opinions.

5 Reasons We'll Miss Judge Posner

There are some judges that the internet and general public just love. Here at FindLaw, it's pretty clear that we have had two favorites for some time -- the Notorious RBG and Judge Posner -- and one of those two is retiring.

Over the years, we've written 40 blogs where Judge Posner's name appeared in the title, while RBG just barely beat him with 42 blogs with her name in the title (though that number jumps to 53 when you add in the number of times we've used the RGB moniker in a title). Surprisingly, the two are neck and neck in terms of overall site mentions, with RGB coming in at 1,313 and Posner peaking at just over 1,390.

To honor and celebrate our second favorite judge, here are the top 5 reasons why we'll miss the honorable, and awesome, Judge Richard Posner.

Subway Gets a Refund in Footlong Settlement

In a rare twist, Subway is going to get some bread back.

After a class action challenged the length of its footlong sandwich, Subway settled by promising to measure up and pay $520,000 to the plaintiffs' attorneys. An appeals court reversed in Subway Footlong Sandwich Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, however, because the settlement did nothing meaningful for consumers.

"The settlement acknowledges as much when it says that uniformity in bread length is impossible due to the natural variability of the bread-baking process," said the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, calling the settlement "worthless."

And with that twist of the knife, the court sliced off the attorneys' dough.