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August 2013 Archives

Is the D.C. Circuit Driven by Political Agenda?

As the fight over the remaining three seats in the D.C. Circuit continues, the hyperbolic minds of the pundit machine are lurching into action, decrying the court as the last bulwark between the American people and an Obama-created regulatory juggernaut.

Carrie Severino of the subtly-named Judicial Crisis Network warned on Saturday that "[t]he D.C. [C]ircuit is the only thing" able to stop the Obama Administration's bundle of regulations (e.g., The Affordable Care Act) by challenging them on appeal, reports Fox News.

But are the courts really so politically motivated? The eight current members of the D.C. Circuit are split half-Democrat and half-Republican, yet many have decisions of the court regarding regulation that have not fallen along party lines.

March on Washington 50th Anniversary: Reflecting on Civil Rights

In a commemoration that will span the last week of August, D.C. will be host to events reflecting on the 50 years since the March on Washington, as well as the victories for civil rights movements in the last five decades.

On Wednesday, it will have been 50 years since Martin Luther King delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech, a speech which preceded the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 and continues to echo into the future, reports NBC News.

The D.C. Circuit was not a bystander during these times of social and political upheaval, and here are just a few of the recent notable cases which have passed through the Circuit in the arena of civil rights.

D.C. Circuit Gets Hunters' Goat in Endangered Species Case

What do you get when you cross a bunch of goat hunters with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)? Apparently, a bunch of very speculative appeals.

In an unlikely team-up, hunters and conservationists had sued the FWS, officially through the Secretary of the Interior, for blatantly ignoring their applications to have the markhor, a goat that inhabits a hilly area of Pakistan, downgraded from an "endangered" to a "threatened" species.

The D.C. Circuit couldn't sit back and feed the appellants a tin can, so the court took a different approach.

Does the D.C. Circuit Hate Regulation?

As summer comes to a close, more and more criticisms of the D.C. Circuit's performance have bubbled to the top of the viscous stew that is political reporting.

Some independent sources, like Volokh Conspiracy's Jonathan H. Adler, defend the court's actions over the last few years, noting that despite the kerfuffle over President Obama's recess appointments, "the [c]ourt is hardly anti-regulatory."

The D.C. Circuit hears more regulatory cases than any of its sister Circuits, but how much does the court actually act against agency decisions?

NRC Can't Ignore Yucca Mtn. Application, Even With Shaky Budgets

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) got some tough love from the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday, when the court issued a writ of mandamus forcing the agency to process an application to store nuclear waste in an unfunded site.

Mandamus is certainly an extraordinary equitable remedy for any court to issue, but the NRC tried the court's patience by doing nothing about a pending application.

D.C. Circuit Nominee May Be Key to Changing the Court

With the newest nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals passing the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in early August, Patricia Millett is one Senate vote away from her confirmation as a D.C. Circuit judge. Many believe she will fundamentally change the court.

Nominee Patricia Millett was confirmed by the Senate committee in a 10-8 vote, one that tracked closely with party lines. Republicans tried to deny her confirmation based on allegations that the Obama administration is "court-packing" an already underworked court, reports The Huffington Post.

Will Millett snap the D.C. Circuit into shape?

Shon Hopwood: Felon, SCOTUS Practitioner and D.C. Circuit Clerk

Shon Hopwood, a jailhouse lawyer who spent more than a decade in federal prison for a string of robberies, has been hired as a 2014 law clerk for Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As The New York Times' Adam Liptak put it, Hopwood is much better at understanding the law than breaking it.

His life story may read like a movie script -- a cross between "Dead Man Walking" and "Cinderella" -- but Hopwood is counting his lucky stars for the happy ending.

Green Party's Nader Fails to Show Standing in FEC Appeal

Remember Ralph Nader? Sure you do.

He was the spotlight third party candidate before Ron Paul and his libertarian ilk swept into the national scene, and he ran in the 2004 presidential election and (*spoiler alert*) did not become our 44th President.

What happened? Well, some would argue that his Green Party platform of legalizing marijuana and environmental justice was too liberal for a recently post-9/11 America, but Nader blames the FEC.

Fed. Air Marshal Fired by TSA For Posting Sensitive Info Online

A Federal Air Marshal was terminated by the TSA after posting sensitive information on an online forum for law enforcement officers, but he claims he made the information up.

In Lacson v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and TSA, Jose Lacson petitioned the D.C. Circuit to set aside the TSA's order which terminated him for leaking sensitive security information ("SSI") about Federal Air Marshall hiring numbers and assignments on the online forum Officer.com.

The case centered around jurisdiction and whether the evidence presented by the TSA was sufficient in light of claims that Lacson made the alleged SSI up.