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

Recently in Bankruptcy Law Category

The D.C. Circuit has revived a challenge to the constitutionality of the Dodd-Frank Act. A small Texas bank, State National Bank of Big Spring, had challenged the constitutionality of the Wall Street Reform Act. It was joined by 11 states, who also took issue with the Act.

Dodd-Frank, you'll remember, was passed in 2010 in an effort to reform the banking industry and prevent a repeat of the financial collapses that began the "Great Recession" of 2007 to 2009. The district court had tossed the challenge, arguing that the bank and States had no standing, but the D.C. Circuit disagreed, breathing new life into at least half the claims.

Financial Reformers, Beware the DC Circuit Court of Appeals!

Watch out, Elizabeth Warren! Wall Street has a powerful ally in the fight against financial reform. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is turning out to be a banker's best friend.

While many cases involving Wall Street banks are heard in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the D.C. Circuit serves as the second-to-last stop for all regulatory agency related appeals. This would include appeals to regulations promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Administrative, Elections and Sanctions Cases

Colorado Interstate Gas Co. v. FERC, No. 08-1243, concerned a petition for review of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) orders holding that under its tariff petitioner could only recover from its shippers gas that was lost in the course of normal pipeline operations.  The D.C. Circuit denied the petition, holding that FERC's interpretation of the tariff was reasonable, and its conclusion that the loss did not result from normal operations was supported by substantial evidence.

SpeechNow.org v. FEC, No. 08-5223, involved a challenge to the Federal Elections Commission's (FEC) draft advisory opinion concluding that, under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), plaintiff would be required to organize as a "political committee" as defined by 2 U.S.C. section 431(4) and would be subject to all the requirements and restrictions concomitant with that designation.  The D.C. Circuit affirmed in part, on the ground that the additional burden that would be imposed on plaintiff if it were required to comply with the organizational and reporting requirements applicable to political committees was not too much for the First Amendment to bear.  However, the court reversed in part, holding that the government had no anti-corruption interest in limiting contributions to an independent expenditure group such as plaintiff.

Prime Time Int'l. Co. v. Vilsack, No. 09-5099, concerned an action by a manufacturer of small cigars challenging its assessments as a manufacturer of tobacco products under the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act (FETRA), asserting claims under FETRA, the Information Quality Act, and the Due Process Clause.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendants in part, holding that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) adequately explained why it rejected petitioner's view that A.C. Nielsen data on industry and individual sales volumes should be used in lieu of "removal" data.  However, the court reversed in part, holding that USDA's present interpretation was not mandated by the plain text of FETRA.

Burns v. George Basilikas Trust, No. 09-7045, involved an appeal from a bankruptcy court's imposition of sanctions on counsel for a debtor, for violation of Rule 9011(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.  The D.C. Circuit reversed on the ground that requesting counseling from an unapproved credit counseling agency could satisfy 11 U.S.C. section 109(h)(3), and thus counsel did not violate that statute.

Related Resources

In an appeal from a district court order striking plaintiff's attorney as counsel of record and terminating his status as an appellant from a bankruptcy court order, the order is affirmed where: 1) counsel was not a licensed attorney; and 2) he lacked prudential standing to appeal from the bankruptcy court's order.

Read In the Matter of: Greater Southeast Cmty. Hosp. Found., Inc., No. 08-7089

Appellate Information

Argued September 18, 2009

Decided October 27, 2009


Opinion by Judge Henderson


For Appellants:

Dennis Lane and Janet M. Nesse, Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, Washington, DC

For Appellees:

Patrick J. Potter, Stephen E. Leach and D. Marc Sarata, Leach Travell Britt PC, McLean, VA