U.S. Seventh Circuit - FindLaw

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


On Friday, a panel of the Seventh Circuit heard oral arguments in Frank v. Walker, a challenge to Wisconsin's voter ID law (listen to an MP3 here).

Following oral arguments, the panel issued an order allowing enforcement of the state's voter ID law, which means the law will likely be in effect during the upcoming November 4 election.

Predictably, both Indiana and Wisconsin are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court following their blistering loss last week at the Seventh Circuit.

At both oral arguments and in the written opinion, Judge Richard Posner did almost as much damage to them as Tom Brady did to my fantasy football team over the weekend.

Here's a look at what the two states are arguing in their petitions:

A month after the Wisconsin Supreme Court voiced its opinion on two challenges to Wisconsin's Voter ID law, the Seventh Circuit is set to hear an appeal of a district court's ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Wisconsin's High Court ruled in favor of the law, against two different challenges brought by the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, which has some wondering if the Seventh Circuit will follow suit.

An unusual caveat in the Wisconsin Supreme Court's opinion -- that voter identification must be free -- could also come into play.

A mere nine days after oral argument, the Seventh Circuit on Thursday affirmed a trial court decision striking down same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin. It's the latest in a near-unanimous string of court rulings to strike down such bans as unconstitutional.

The Seventh Circuit's decision was fast -- and unsurprising. At oral arguments, Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the opinion, was incredibly dismissive of state arguments that the bans were necessary.

Over the past several years, "Right to Work" laws have been in vogue. Twenty-four states now have these laws, according to The Washington Post, which prevent unions from requiring workers either to join a union or pay a fee to support the union.

Today, two days before the Indiana Supreme Court is slated to hear a similar case, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a challenge to Indiana's right to work statute, finding that it wasn't preempted by federal labor law.

"What is the objection to polygamy?"

"The argument you're making is exactly what was rejected in Loving."

"Do you want kids adopted by homosexual parents to be worse off?"

"How? How does it hurt heterosexual marriage? How does it hurt children?"

The questions came fast and furious from all three judges today, and neither side of the arguments in Wolf v. Walker, a Wisconsin same-sex marriage case, and Baskin v. Bogan, Indiana's counterpart, was let off the hook, despite same-sex marriage advocates striking the lottery with the panel assignment.

If today's bloodbath is any indication, the Seventh Circuit panel is going to find in favor of gay marriage. Somebody, however, is going to have to find a credible argument to defend other traditional prohibitions against polygamy, marriage of cousins, etc., if those prohibitions have any chance of surviving inevitable challenges in the future.

In 2012, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dodged efforts to recall him after his administration stripped public employees of their union rights. He didn't emerge completely unscathed, however -- shortly after the election, prosecutors began looking into whether members of his administration violated campaign finance laws.

Though two judges have already heard the evidence and ordered prosecutors to back off, the Seventh Circuit is currently hearing those prosecutors' pleas to continue looking into the governor's staff's ties to the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a nonprofit conservative group that funneled cash to a number of other conservative PACs that helped Gov. Walker fight back against the recall push.

On Friday, the Seventh Circuit accidentally released confidential documents related to the case. What did those documents show?

Frivolous lawsuits like this have to be the bane of studios' existence. (Get it? Bane!) In "The Dark Knight Rises," Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) sought a computer program ("Clean Slate") that would wipe all traces of her sordid criminal past from the world's computers. The fictional program was mentioned twice, and viral marketing websites were set up for "Clean Slate" and the fictional company behind it, in order to promote the movie.

In real life, a company called Fortres Grand has a program called "Clean Slate." It resets a computer back to default settings whenever the computer is restarted -- the sort of program that would come in handy on public computers (libraries, hotels, schools) to wipe out user changes to the system, downloaded junk, and personal data.

Fortres Grand sued, claiming that the fictional product created "reverse confusion" with its trademark on "Clean Slate," harming its sales in the process.

You remember Rod Blagojevich, right? The former governor of Illinois who was convicted of corruption for attempting to sell former U.S. Senator Barack Obama's senate seat? (I wonder what happened to that guy?)

Blagojevich and his awesome hair resurfaced in an opinion from the Seventh Circuit on Friday, where the court found there was sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment on a RICO claim against him.

Armslist is a website that provides a place for private gun owners to sell guns to each other. It has several disclaimers excepting it from liability because it "does not certify, investigate, or in any way guarantee the legal capacity of any party to transact."

Demetry Smirnov met Jitka Vesel online (though not on Armslist). Vesel rejected Smirnov, and in response, Smirnov illegally purchased a gun through Armslist (illegal because, under federal law, a gun can't be transferred directly to someone from a different state; the seller was from Washington and Smirnov lived in Chicago).

Smirnov followed Jitka to a parking lot and killed her with the handgun he bought through Armslist. The Seventh Circuit ruled Tuesday that Armslist has no liability.