U.S. Sixth Circuit - FindLaw

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


This is a tough question: What do police officers do when a group called Bible Believers, carrying a severed pig's head and yelling about a "pedophile prophet," are confronted at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan, by Muslim children with rocks and bottles?

The "peaceful" proselytizers are kind of asking for it. But you don't want to crush their speech rights by giving in to the hecklers who are pelting them with rubble. Eventually, after things started to get out of hand, and the leader of the Bible Believers group was bleeding from a cut on his face, police stepped in and escorted the group out of the festival.

The original case split 2-1 in the Sixth Circuit, with the majority siding with the police officers and the dissent arguing that the cops didn't go far enough to protect speech rights. Now, the full Sixth Circuit will give the case the en banc treatment.

In an attempt to keep voters from being harassed by signs and people with handbills, many places around the country have geographic limits on signage around polling places. A state law in Kentucky says that no one can engage in electioneering within 300 feet of a polling place.

That seemed a little too far for Judge William O. Bertelsman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, who ruled earlier this week the state's law was unconstitutional.

Back in August, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Occupy Nashville v. Haslam. On October 8, the court issued its opinion reversing the district court's order. The Sixth Circuit found that Nashville police and city officials were entitled to qualified immunity.

Facts in Brief

With no public notice, comment, or even the presence of the public, the City of Nashville, Tennessee, unilaterally changed city policy to establish a 10 p.m. curfew in the city's War Memorial Plaza, which previously had no curfew. Nashville then distributed copies of the new curfew to protesters and posted signs on the plaza. At 3 a.m., police enforced the newly crafted rule against Occupy Nashville protesters.

So far, the Supreme Court has granted only three petitions from the Sixth Circuit, on issues as varied as prisoner litigation and securities law. Many more petitions are waiting in the wings, including same-sex marriage, the Amish beard-cutter, and limiting hours for early voting.

For now, though, Sixth Circuit watchers will have to tide themselves over with these three cases:

For a while, it looked like Ohio Gov. John Kasich wasn't going to be re-elected. Kasich was the same type of staunch Republican as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But where Walker succeeded, Kasich failed. Voters harshly rebuked a Kasich-endorsed state senate bill that would have limited public employees' collective bargaining rights.

In 2012, toeing the party line with other Republican governors, Kasich said the state wouldn't be implementing a state health insurance exchange. But months later, he changed his mind, declaring Ohio would have a state exchange after all.

After a district court blocked Ohio's attempts to limit early voting opportunities, and after the Sixth Circuit refused to issue a stay pending appeal, the state was down to a Hail Mary petition in the last few minutes of the game.

With early voting set to commence, including the "Golden Week," which allows voters to register and vote on the same day (and is a logistical headache for the state, which has to verify those registrations on the spot), the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in Monday morning and voted 5-4 to issue a stay in the case, all but guaranteeing that the state will get its way this election, and early voting opportunities will be limited. (H/T to SCOTUSblog)

Is a good deed any less good if it was done with less-than-noble intentions?

Maybe so. But the Ponzi scheme guidelines don't care about motive -- they care about money. And Jason Snelling, in the end, only stole $5.3 million, returning the other $3.6 million to his investors in order to lure them into "investing" more money into his Ponzi scheme.

The district court declined to credit Snelling for the returned funds, but the Sixth Circuit reversed the sentence as procedurally unreasonable.

From Tennessee comes a pretty serious case of animal neglect on the part of United Pet Supply, which operates pet stores. After receiving complaints about animal neglect, Chattanooga animal welfare workers visited the store, observing lots of neglected animals in pretty bad conditions. (See pages 5-6 of the opinion for more of the details.)

City workers seized the animals, revoked Pet Supply's license to sell animals on the spot, and cited the company for various violations. Pet Supply commenced a suit in federal court against the animal welfare workers, alleging due process and Fourth Amendment violations. The district court granted the city workers qualified immunity on some claims, but denied summary judgment on other claims, finding there were factual disputes.

It has been a rough month for Ohio's election laws. First, a district court blocked the state's attempt to pull back early voting days, including the state's "Golden Week," where individuals could register and vote on the same day. Then, the state's stupid law that criminalized making false statements in elections predictably fell at the hands of the Sixth Circuit.

On Friday, the Sixth Circuit denied a stay pending appeal in the Golden Week case and today, the state filed its merits brief in its appeal, arguing that judges shouldn't order last minute changes in the way elections are run.

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.