DC Circuit - The FindLaw DC Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Judge Orders Drilling Halted; Greenhouse Emissions Must Be Considered

A federal judge ordered a halt to drilling for oil and gas on more than 300,000 acres because the government did not properly consider the impact on climate change.

Judge Rudolph Contreras said the Bureau of Land Management failed to take a "hard look" at greenhouse emissions for 303,000 acres in Wyoming. He enjoined further drilling until the government can account for the environmental impact.

The decision is a blow to the Trump administration's pro-drilling policy, but it is not likely to stop the drilling for long.

In a fascinating but doomed appeal, a pilot found to have flown with marijuana chocolates in his possession challenged the revocation of his private pilot's license and lost.

The story may seem like an open and shut case, and not just because the three pot chocolate bars were found after an emergency landing, but mostly because under federal law, which covers nearly everything related to aviation, marijuana is illegal, and transporting it in a plane is even more illegal.

States Sue OSHA for Giving Up

In an interesting but not so surprising twist, several state attorneys general are suing a federal agency for violating the Administrative Procedure Act and changing a rule arbitrarily and capriciously.

The case, filed on behalf of New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Illinois, and New Jersey, alleges that the Department of Labor and OSHA improperly rescinded the 2016 rule requiring large employers to report workplace injuries and illnesses. The states contend that the 2016 rule would have done quite a bit to help, in addition to improving transparency and accountability, which are often lacking when it comes to workplace safety.

Judge Upholds Ban on Bump-Stocked Guns

A federal judge upheld a ban on bump stocks, which turn guns into rapid-fire weapons.

The Trump administration moved to ban them after a single shooter used bump stocks to kill 58 people in Las Vegas in 2017. Judge Dabney Friedrich said the ban was reasonable because bump-stocked guns are effectively machine guns.

In Guedes v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and a companion case, the plaintiffs sued to stop the ban from taking effect. If the judge's ruling holds, the ban will be fully operational next month.

Bad News for Russia Defendants: Mueller Appointment Was Lawful

Robert Mueller won another round in the Russia investigation, fending off a challenge to his authority as special counsel.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his appointment in the case, In Re. Grand Jury Investigation. Andrew Miller had sued to void the special prosecutor's subpoena.

A former aide to Roger Stone, Miller was held in contempt for refusing to comply with the subpoena. Now things look worse for both men and dozens of other people charged in the case.

Roger Stone in Trouble for Post About Judge in His Criminal Case

Roger Stone, the embroiled political consultant, sent the wrong message to a federal judge.

Stone posted an Instagram message that showed a picture of Judge Amy Berman Jackson with a target-like image behind her. He realized his misstep, however, and quickly apologized to the judge.

It was a good thing he apologized because the judge is presiding over Stone's criminal case. It could also be too little, too late.

Executive Order 13771 is the infamous 2-for-1 deregulation policy aimed at reducing federal agency regulation and spending by requiring agencies to cut programs to create new ones and to cut two regulations for every one that gets implemented.

The lawsuit, which was filed early last year, has finally made it past the motion to dismiss stage with the federal district court for the District of Columbia finding that the plaintiffs do have standing to at least proceed to discovery.

Did FCC Illegally Repeal Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality died last year, but a panel of judges could bring it back to life.

The U.S. DC Circuit Court of Appeals is thinking about it. The question is whether the Federal Communications Commission illegally repealed net neutrality rules that kept internet service providers from throttling traffic and charging more for doing it.

But Mozilla Corporation v. Federal Communications Commission is bigger than that. Industry insiders say it is the internet case of the century.

The government shutdown may be over temporarily, but the lawsuit over whether the federal government can require employees to work without being paid doesn't seem to be ending any time soon.

The motion for a temporary restraining order was denied, but the case is still moving forward. The judge explained that the TRO could cause "chaos." Notably, this is not the first case of its kind. In fact, the same court, and same judge, heard nearly this exact same case in 2013. The lawyers for the plaintiffs explained that the TRO motion was withdrawn, but could be renewed if the government is shutdown again.

BuzzFeed Unearths Controversy Over Trump's DC Cir. Pick

Neomi Rao, a nominee for the DC Court of Appeals, should have seen it coming.

During her college days, she wrote articles about date rape and feminism that have come back to haunt her. They escaped scrutiny when she was appointed to her current government job.

But as fate would have it, now she is looking at the same job vacated by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. After all, who can forget what "boofing" and the "devil's triangle" mean in confirmation-speak?