U.S. Tenth Circuit

U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Every year since 2004, Colorado's governor has recognized a "Colorado Day of Prayer." This isn't terribly unusual in itself; since 1952, Congress has established a "national day of prayer" and most other states do the same thing.

But the Freedom from Religion Foundation doesn't like it. They object to the explicit biblical references in the proclamations, claiming a violation of the Preference Clause of the state constitution (its own version of the Establishment Clause).

Back in September, a federal district judge in Oklahoma, agreeing with a three-judge panel opinion of the D.C. Circuit, held that the Affordable Care Act subsidies applied only to states that had, themselves, established state exchanges and not states in which the federal government had to run the exchange after the state refused.

Well, a lot has happened since then. The D.C. Circuit took its case up en banc, vacating the panel opinion, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the challenge in the form of King v. Burwell, a Fourth Circuit case finding the other way.

Now, Oklahoma's attorney general wants to appeal his state's case straight to the Supreme Court.

States (Arizona and Kansas) have passed laws requiring voters to show proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. Meantime, a long-standing federal law (the National Voter Registration Act, or "Motor Voter" law) says that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission has to make a universal nationwide voter registration form, and that states have to take it and like it.

Long story short: Arizona's law already made it to the Supreme Court last year, when the Court required Arizona to recognize the federal form. However, Justice Scalia also suggested that the states might be able to sue the EAC to force them to add proof-of-citizenship language to the forms.

How well did that work out? Not too well, if the Tenth Circuit's recent opinion is the last word.

Update: it turns out the stay was much ado about nothing. The stay was lifted Wednesday afternoon. More on the order, and the two sides' arguments, can be found at FindLaw's Courtside.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor has just issued a stay blocking same-sex marriages in Kansas, right around the time a district court's ruling striking down the state's ban on gay marriages was about to take effect. The order is a surprise, considering that since the Court declined to take on gay marriage earlier this term, it has refused to issue stays in numerous other same-sex marriage appeals.

We have to imagine that the plaintiffs' lawyers feel like the witch who got crushed by Dorothy's house in Oz, as this came out of nowhere. What gives? And what else is odd about this SCOTUS stay?

We love being right, though to be fair, anyone with even the most rudimentary understanding of how controlling precedent works could have seen this opinion coming.

The Tenth Circuit has ruled against gay marriage. The Supreme Court didn't intervene. What's a federal district court in Kansas to do then? Make Kansas the 33rd state to have legalized gay marriage, obviously, even though a parallel state court challenge is set for oral arguments tomorrow.

This is cute. The Kansas Supreme Court actually thinks that it might have a say in gay marriage.

That may seem harsh, but you probably already know about the Tenth Circuit's holdings in the Utah and Oklahoma cases. And you probably already know that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to disturb those holdings.

Gay marriage is legal in the Tenth Circuit.

So why is the Kansas Supreme Court hearing oral arguments this week (which you can attend in person -- arrive early!)?

Last week, we reported about a quick, three-paragraph order allowing Citizens United to show the film "Rocky Mountain Heist" without having to disclose the names of the people who donated to the project. The Tenth Circuit promised that it would deliver a substantive opinion on the issue soon, and on Monday it certainly did -- in the form of a 34-page opinion with a nine-page dissent.

So why, exactly, doesn't Citizens United have to disclose the donors of "Rocky Mountain Heist"?

The Westboro Baptist Church (the "God Hates F--s" folks who protest funerals) is always good for a publicity stunt or two. What's today's stunt? The WBC wants to intervene in the legal challenge against Kansas's gay marriage ban, reports the Washington Blade. But the church isn't exclusively citing legal authority to support its motion to intervene in the district court.

It's also citing a higher power: the Bible. And the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, because the group asserts Kansas will burn if marriage equality is achieved.

A Colorado state trooper stopped Melissa Sotelo for driving too slowly in the left-hand lane. Sotelo was driving a car rented from Hertz by Patrick Schooler, but there were no other authorized drivers listed. The car wasn't stolen, and Schooler was a friend of the passenger, Janelle Mireles. Hertz asked the police to impound the car.

Before they did, they conducted an inventory search and found three gift-wrapped boxes in the back seat. The driver and passenger said the boxes contained baby clothes, a karaoke machine, and a baby stroller -- birthday gifts for Sotelo's daughter. Suspicious, the trooper obtained a search warrant, then opened the boxes. Happy birthday! Marijuana.

We recently blogged about a rash of post-Citizens United cases brewing in the lower federal courts. These cases are trying to slowly push corporate speech forward, this time by exempting certain speakers from campaign disclosure requirements.

In the Tenth Circuit, the Court of Appeals has tentatively allowed Citizens United (they very same!) to refrain from disclosing its donors pending the outcome of Citizens United v. Gessler before the court.