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


Butterfly Conservationists Lose Case Against Border Wall

The Trump Administration claimed victory against opponents of the border wall -- butterflies.

In North American Butterfly Association v. Nielsen, a federal judge said there was "little refuge" for the plaintiff's claims in the case. The National Butterfly Center claimed the government violated its Fourth Amendment rights by entering the butterfly sanctuary without consent.

Compared to the president's emergency declaration to fund a wall along the U.S. Mexico-border, the decision attracted little attention. But it still made headlines even as the administration targeted $8 billion to put up the wall.

Planned Parenthood Medicaid Coverage Slashed as Texas Wins Appeal

In a reversal against Planned Parenthood, a federal appeals court told a trial judge to take another look at evidence that the organization sold the tissue of aborted fetuses.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the Texas judge, who had issued an injunction against state officials for trying to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. The appeals court said the judge should reconsider whether the clinic's practices disqualified Planned Parenthood for Medicaid.

In Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Family Planning and Preventative Health Services v. Smith, videos revealed graphic discussions about the sale of liver, thymus and other neural tissue from second trimester abortions. Texas prohibits all of that.

Fifth Circuit Dismisses Texas Plea for Anti-Sanctuary Bill

In the fatal stand-off over the migrant caravan, the battle over sanctuary cities has faded from headlines recently.

In Paxton v. Travis County, Texas, the issue was even more removed. In that case, Texas wanted the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to declare its law against sanctuary cities legal.

The appeals court declined, saying the state suffered no prejudice by dismissal of the case. After all, the immigrants are losing the sanctuary war.

Appeals Court Upholds Flying Flag With Confederate Emblem

A Mississippi city will continue to fly a flag that includes the confederate battle emblem, following a decision by a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of a lawsuit against Ocean Springs that said the flag sent the message black people are not welcome. The appeals court said the plaintiffs were not "aggrieved persons" under the law.

In Mississippi Rising Coalition v. City of Ocean Springs, the plaintiffs lost their claim that the flag is "racially demeaning and hostile." As long as the Confederate flag flies, however, it seems the Civil War isn't over.

5th Circuit Upholds $33M Penalty Against Texas for Decreasing Special Ed Funding

Sometimes a court opinion can be summed up in a few words like: "a perverse incentive."

That's how the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals described things in Texas Education Agency v. United States Department of Education. Texas had cut $33.3 million in education funds for students with disabilities.

Texas said the students didn't need the funds so it held back federal grant money. The appeals courts said the scheme was "a perverse incentive" to escape obligations to students with special needs.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just affirmed the Southern District Court of Texas's ruling that Walmart cannot be held liable for the death of Karalee Williams.

Karalee died in her car in a Texas Walmart's parking lot. She died due to excessive huffing of canned air, a.k.a. dusting (you know, those aerosol air dusters meant for tech), which is a serious problem across the country. Notably, during a 27 hour period, Karalee made several visits to the same Walmart and purchased approximately 60 cans of the stuff and a towel. Despite unbelievable undisputed facts, the courts agreed that Walmart did not owe Karalee any duties.

Judge Strikes Indian Child Welfare Act

Judge Reed Charles O'Connor, a federal judge in Texas, is not afraid of Indians.

Staring down centuries of Native American sovereignty, the judge stuck down the Indian Child Welfare Act. He said the 40-year-old legislation that favors tribal rights in adoption proceedings is unconstitutional.

Native American advocates were stunned by the decision. There will be an appeal.

Golf Company Swings, Misses at 5th Circuit

In golf, a mulligan means a do-over.

It's an informal golf rule that allows a player who muffs a shot to take another one, and it's not counted on the score card. In SureShot Golf Ventures v. Topgolf International, the plaintiff got the legal equivalent of a mulligan.

SureShot sued Topgolf, only to have its antitrust complaint dismissed. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed, but gave the plaintiff another chance.

Texas Veterinarian Sues to Give Pet Advice Online

Maybe you heard this song before, but there's a veterinarian who would talk to the animals if he could.

At age 75, Dr. Ronald Hines is an old-school practitioner with a modern approach. He gives pet advice online.

At least he did until Texas shut him down. Now he's suing for his right to free speech -- again.

Louisiana Abortion Restrictions Upheld

A federal appeals court restored a Louisiana law that requires abortion doctors have credentials to work at hospitals.

In June Medical Services v. Gee, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court decision that struck down the law as unconstitutional. Act 620 provides that treating doctors at abortion clinics must have credentials at a hospital within 30 miles.

The appeals panel said the law was intended to protect "maternal health" and "unborn life." But one dissenting judge said it was an "undue burden" on women's rights.