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

January 2012 Archives

Machine Gun Minimum: D.C. Circuit Takes On Automatic Weapons

Commit a bank robbery, and you'll probably go to jail. Commit a bank robbery with an AK-47, and you'll probably go to jail for the rest of your natural life. But is that fair if you didn't know it was an automatic weapon?

The full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals took on the issue of the mandatory minimum sentence for using an automatic weapon by agreeing to a rare full-court hearing of the case of bank robber Bryan Burwell. Oral arguments in the case were heard on Monday.

SCOTUS Upholds D.C. Circuit's Ruling on Warrantless GPS Tracking

The advent of new technology typically provides novel considerations of applying age-old laws.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the GPS tracking of a suspect without a warrant violated the Fourth Amendment’s ban on “unreasonable searches and seizures,” upholding the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal’s opinion from 2010.

The case, U.S. v. Jones, stemmed from police action in which officers tracked the movements of suspected cocaine dealer Antoine Jones for over a month without a warrant.

DC Circuit Refuses Review of CFTC Position Limits Before Trial

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal refused to review a direct appeal of a U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission rule on position limits on Friday.

Holding that neither the Commodity Exchange Act nor the Dodd-Frank law gave it the jurisdiction to consider a direct appeal, the court ruled that the petitioners must take the position limits rule to a trial court first.

“Initial review occurs at the appellate level only when a direct-review statute specifically gives the court of appeals subject-matter jurisdiction to directly review agency action,” the D.C. Circuit wrote. “There is no express congressional authorization of direct appellate review applicable to the petition for review in this case.”

How Much to Fly the Skies? Airlines File Advertising Appeal

Anyone who has purchased airplane tickets has likely gone through the shock of thinking they’ll pay one price and seeing another price at checkout. Usually, the culprit in the difference is government taxes and fees. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) thinks you should know these costs upfront, while — unsurprisingly — several airlines think you shouldn’t.


In the fight over controlling sticker shock for airline customers, several airlines - including Southwest, Spirit and Allegiant - have asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to throw out DOT regulations requiring them to include government taxes and fees in their advertised prices.

Ear Candle Cause of Action Waxy, Case Against FDA Dismissed

Ear candlers, such as popstar Jessica Simpson, may want to find another way to treat their earwax issues.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a lawsuit brought by ear candle advocates against the FDA, finding that the candle advocates lacked a cause of action.

The court held that the Holistic Candles and Consumers Association failed to state a legitimate claim under the Administrative Procedures Act, which prevented them from suing the FDA for urging ear candle makers to stop promoting them as medical treatments.

D.C. Circuit Set to Hear Voting Rights Act Preclearance Cases

While the Supreme Court gets ready for a redistricting battle, Texas-style, this week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is gearing up for its own closely-watched set of Voting Rights Act cases in the next two months.

Lawsuits from both Alabama and North Carolina aimed at striking down the Act's Section 5 preclearance requirement have made their way to the D.C. Circuit, and hearings have been scheduled in January and February respectively.

Under Section 5, nine states must receive preclearance from the Department of Justice for changes to their electoral procedures.

'Pretty Big Deal': D.C. Circuit Stays EPA Rule

In a showing of a rarely-used federal appeals court power, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals placed a stay on the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which targets power plant emissions that cross state lines.

The stay, which leaves an existing air pollution reduction program in place until the court can assess legal challenges to the rule, has been touted as "a pretty big deal" since the court rarely stays EPA rules.

"These three judges believed that there was a good likelihood that this rule was flawed in some way, and we know they wouldn't have issued the stay unless that were the case," Jeff Holmstead, an attorney for Bracewell & Guiliani LLP, told the Bureau of National Affairs.