U.S. Sixth Circuit - FindLaw

U.S. Sixth Circuit - The FindLaw 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


This was a stupid law from the start. Now, it is a stupid, dead law.

Ohio banned making false statements in elections. In 2010, the Susan B. Anthony List erected billboards stating that former Cincinnati Congressman Steve Driehaus had voted for "taxpayer-funded abortion" by backing Obamacare, The Plain Dealer recounts. The group was charged with violating the law, but the complaint was dropped after Driehaus lost the election.

After two lower courts held that the Susan B. Anthony List lacked standing to challenge the law's constitutionality, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed earlier this year, holding that the threat of future prosecution could chill speech and was sufficient to show an injury for Article III purposes.

Finally, four years after the battle began, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black, with a bit of pop culture flair, held that the law was unconstitutional and permanently blocked it.

The Armed Career Criminal Act provides sentence enhancements for convicted felons who commit firearms crimes. Commit two or more violent crimes or drug trafficking crimes and your third gets you 15 years, minimum.

Edward Young was helping his neighbor sell her late husband's possessions when he found seven shotgun shells in a box. He put them in a drawer for safekeeping. Unbeknownst to him, he wasn't allowed to possess ammunition because he had been convicted of burglary-type crimes 20 years earlier.

Police came calling to investigate burglaries at an auto repair shop nearby. Young consented to a search, and of course they found the shotgun shells. For that, he received 15 years in prison.

Following the woes Ohio experienced in the 2004 election, the state legislature established "no fault" absentee voting and early, in-person (EIP) voting. In 2013, Ohio passed a statute decreasing the number of EIP days to 28, down from 35. The decrease in EIP days was an attempt to close a loophole: EIP voting and the voting registration deadline overlapped during a period subsequently called "Golden Week," meaning voters could register and vote at the same time. Election officials claimed that the reduction in EIP days, and the closing of this gap, was necessary to verify the identities of new voters, as state law requires that a voter's identity be confirmed before his or her ballot can be counted.

The NAACP, League of Women Voters, and several African American churches filed an equal protection challenge and a request for an injunction after the changes were made. The lawsuit also challenged the lack of statewide standards for EIP voting times: Not only was there no standard for how long EIP polling places could be open, but there was no standard for when they were open; for non-presidential elections, there were no evening hours at all and only one Sunday available. Particularly concerning was the fact that many African-Americans organized outings to polling places after church the Sunday before Election Day, but not every EIP polling place was open on Sundays.

Back in April, we covered EEOC v. Ford, in which an employee with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) alleged that Ford failed to make reasonable accommodations for her disability. A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit found that telecommuting was a reasonable accommodation, so Ford had to make that accommodation.

Last week, the Sixth Circuit granted a petition for rehearing en banc. The panel decision will be vacated and the case will be reheard in front of all 13 of the Sixth Circuit's active judges.

Last year, a federal court convicted sixteen members of an Ohio Amish group of hate crimes. They cut the hair and shaved the beards of members of their sect who they believed weren't "Amish enough."

Though no one disputes that the defendants did, in fact, commit these assaults, on appeal to the Sixth Circuit, the question was whether the prosecution proved that the defendants committed the assaults because of the victims' religion under a federal hate crimes statute. Reversing the hate crime convictions in United States v. Miller, the Sixth Circuit said, "nope."

The "Heckler's Veto" isn't just a vestige from your constitutional law class. It's alive and well -- so much so that the Sixth Circuit brought it back into the spotlight in a case about unruly mobs, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech.

Dearborn, Michigan boasts a significant Arab-American population. Naturally, it has held a three-day Arab International Festival every year from 1995 to 2012. A Christian group, Bible Believers, came to preach there in 2011. They wandered through the crowd, engaging in "peaceful proselytizing," which "sparked confrontation with bystanders." One Believer was arrested and released without charge.

As the Second Circuit wraps up its Occupy Wall Street case, the Sixth Circuit is just getting started with its own Occupy issues.

On Monday, the court heard oral arguments in Occupy Nashville v. Haslam. While there are no transcripts available yet, the contours of the issues follow established case law that should result in another win for the Occupy Nashville protesters, who previously won at the district court level.

The Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA) provides rights and remedies for children who have various educational disabilities, which can include reimbursement from the state if the child has to pay to attend a non-public school. N.W., the subject of this case out of the Sixth Circuit, was born with autism and diagnosed with apraxia, an inability to say what he wants to say.

N.W. was removed from public school in Boone County, Kentucky, and placed at St. Rita's School for the Deaf in Cincinnati. N.W.'s parents weren't satisfied with St. Rita's and placed him at ABS, another private school in Cincinnati. N.W.'s parents asked for reimbursement from the Boone County School District, but after more than a year of mediation, neither side could agree on a plan for N.W. His parents alleged that the District failed to provide him with a "free, appropriate public education" (FAPE).

In a set of consolidated cases, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted some relief against a county mortuary employee who sexually abused dead bodies at the mortuary over a period of 25 years.

While admittedly under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, Kenneth Douglas sexually abused "an untold number" of dead bodies at the Hamilton County Morgue in Cincinnati between 1982 and when he was finally caught in 2007. The plaintiffs -- relatives of three of the deceased whose bodies Douglas abused -- sued Douglas as well as Hamilton County.

The case against the county therefore centers around what Douglas' supervisors knew or should have known. How much should they have known? Apparently, a lot. Douglas' supervisor knew or should have known about his alcohol use because Douglas drank at work; he also knew that Douglas had sex with live women at the morgue, "something he apparently did with some frequency."

The undefeated streak is over.

Last week, a state judge in Tennessee ruled against gay marriage, becoming the first to do so since the Supreme Court decided United States v. Windsor last year. In a case brought by two men, legally married in Iowa but seeking a divorce in Tennessee, Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr. held that Tennessee's Anti-Recognition clause, passed directly by the voters, should stand, as "neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state's responsibility."