U.S. Sixth Circuit - FindLaw

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


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.

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).