U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


The federal district court for the Southern District of Texas issued a ruling that could bring the state up to speed with many others. Judge Lee Rosenthal, while ruling against a transgender plaintiff, explained that LGBT employees are in fact protected under Title VII.

Although the plaintiff's attorney expressed disappointment at the ruling against his client, he believes the decision to be "earth-shattering" for the fact that a Texas federal court is recognizing LGBT protections under Title VII. Apparently, it is the first time a Texas court has recognized LGBT protections under Title VII.

Federal Judge OKs Challenge to Male-Only Draft

Women aren't suing for equal everything, like registering for the military draft.

But the National Coalition for Men wants to change all that. The organization sued, alleging that male-only mandatory enlistment discriminates against men, and a judge says the plaintiffs have a case.

However, they still have a long way to go in National Coalition of Men v. Selective Service System. They filed in 2013, and just got standing to proceed.

Sometimes, justice takes a long time. But the old saying, "justice delayed is justice denied" isn't just a rallying cry of civil rights plaintiff lawyers, it's truth according to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

And for the Fifth Circuit, a panel of judges had the unfortunate duty to essentially chastise a district court judge for taking too long to rule on a duo of motions. And if you think you have the right to complain because some judge made you wait a couple months to get a hearing or ruling, thing again; the parties in the underlying matter had waited four years for a ruling on two motions.

Judge Throws Out 'Clock Boy' Discrimination Case

Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old student, made a clock and took it to school.

But it looked like a bomb, his teacher said. The principal agreed and summoned police, who arrested the teenager.

It turned out to be a clock, but blew up in a media storm and an invitation to the White House for the baffled "clock boy." His parents sued unsuccessfully, apparently because there is no case for being smarter than your teacher.

This week, the Texas law against sanctuary city policies was upheld, again, by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, this time sitting en banc. The preliminary injunction, which the circuit court stayed pending the first appeal to the panel, was all but fully dismantled by the full appellate court.

The only part of the law that the court did not lift the injunction involved penalizing officials that failed to endorse the anti-sanctuary law. The court found that the law was overly broad in what it sought to restrict, particularly given that it would prohibit (or penalize) an elected official who spoke out against the law, or other immigration policies while campaigning.

Going through a bankruptcy is never easy for individuals. While the resulting freedom from debt can be life changing, failing to follow the rules can result in a bankruptcy petition being rejected, or certain assets not being protecting from creditors.

Recently, in a Fifth Circuit appeal from a Texas bankruptcy matter, a petitioner almost lost the proceeds from the sale of their home to the bankruptcy trustee due to a misunderstood technicality of the timing for the Texas homestead exemption. The appellate court provided some much needed guidance on the issue and reversed the district court's reversal of the bankruptcy court's order protecting the proceeds from the sale of a homestead post-petition that were not reinvested in a new homestead.

Twenty States Sue to Finish Off Obamacare

President Trump took out Obamacare's tax penalty for individuals who don't have health insurance, but attorneys general across the country want to kill off the rest of the health insurance legislation.

The President and fellow Republicans repealed the "individual mandate" of the Affordable Care Act that requires Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine. The mandate will expire in 2019.

In the meantime, 20 states have sued to undo the entire act. They say that without the mandate, Obamacare is unlawful.

It is no secret that the justice system tends to favor the wealthy. People with more money are better able to afford the cost of accessing justice. And it's not just paying the costs for private attorneys and experts in civil cases, in the criminal justice system simply being able to afford bail provides the wealthy with a significant privilege and advantage compared to those who can't afford any amount of bail.

The Fifth Circuit recently weighed in on the Harris County bail system which relies on fixed bail amounts for various charges, and which been recently been upended by a district court ruling that could have potential released many pretrial detainees. Both courts agreed and ruled the fixed bail amounts were unconstitutional as a result of due process and equal protection violations, but the circuit court had to reign in the lower court's order for going a bit too far.

Dispute Over Krusty Krab Restaurant Lands in Fifth Circuit

Kids know that SpongeBob SquarePants would protect The Krusty Krab's secret recipe.

Some seasoned judges don't know that, however, even in a lawsuit over "The Krusty Krab." Viacom, which created the cartoon crab shack on Nickelodeon, wants to keep a businessman from using the name for his planned restaurants.

The big problem is, Viacom didn't trademark the name. But another problem is, the judges don't know SpongeBob.

Trump's Latest Nomination for 5th Circuit: Andy Oldham

Andy Oldham barely had time to decorate his office when President Trump nominated him to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Oldham was just named general counsel by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 2, when the President came calling a month later. It may be a bit of a rush for the nominee, but changes have been coming to the appeals court for a while.

It is Trump's third nominee to the Fifth Circuit since he took office, and they all came from Texas. That's good and bad news, depending on how you look at it.