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

October 2013 Archives

Texas Gay Marriage Ban Challenged in Federal Court

Texas' gay marriage ban has been challenged in federal court by two same-sex couples who filed suit in San Antonio on Monday.

According to MySanAntonio.com, Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes along with Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman are suing to bar the state from enforcing Texas' ban on same-sex marriage, arguing "[t]here is no rational basis" to deny the couples the right to marry.

By far not the first suit of its kind, so what do the couples allege?

Texas Abortion Law Blocked in Part by Federal Court

A provision of Texas' controversial abortion law was blocked by a federal court in Austin on Monday, one day prior to its Tuesday effective date.

According to The New York Times, Monday's ruling may have changed the fate of one-third of Texas' abortion clinics, who would have been forced to close under the provision struck down by the federal district court.

What was the court's reasoning, and which parts of the law still stand?

CBP Agent Caused Disabled Woman to Miscarry: ACLU Lawsuit

The ACLU filed a police brutality suit on behalf of a disabled woman who was allegedly abused by border patrol agents and suffered a miscarriage a day after the incident.

According to The Texas Tribune, U.S. citizen Laura Mireles alleges that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer Riano physically and verbally abused her and "applied handcuffs with such force that the fire department had to be called in to remove them."

Are these shocking allegations part of a larger trend?

PACs Can Solicit Corporate Donations: 5th Cir.

The Fifth Circuit upheld an injunction blocking a Texas election law which prevented political action committees (PACs) from garnering corporate donations, reinforcing a post-Citizens United look at campaign finances.

Courthouse News Service reported that the Fifth Circuit is now the fourth federal appellate court to uphold "indirect political contributions" since Citizens United, giving the win to Texans for Free Enterprise (TFE), a PAC which uses funds primarily to run campaign ads.

Does the court just love Rick Perry attack ads?

SCOTUS Puts Final Nail in Louisiana Coffin Case

Benedictine monks are celebrating -- as circumspectly as monks do -- after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the Louisiana case against unlicensed coffin-makers.

According to The Associated Press, counsel for the St. Joseph Abbey announced that SCOTUS has refused to hear the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors appeal of the Fifth Circuit's opinion, allowing "entrepreneurs" in all the field of things that contain dead bodies to flourish.

Let's take this opportunity to look back at why the Louisiana government was trying to stop these monks from selling their coffin-wares in the first place.

Feds Sue Texas R.V. Park on Behalf of Transgender Woman

The federal government has sued a Texas trailer park for violating the Fair Housing Act after a transgender woman and her partner were evicted.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas transgender woman Roxanne Joganik lived -- or attempted to live -- at the Texan RV Park in Athens, Texas from 2011 to 2012, but the park's most recent owner, George Toone, took issue with her wearing female clothing.

As a potentially huge case for transgender equality in the Fifth Circuit, what are the key issues?

Execution Stay Denied Despite Texas Lethal Drug Shortage

The Fifth Circuit denied a stay of execution for a Texas man sentenced to be executed on Wednesday, ignoring arguments about uncertainty with regard to the lethal injection drugs.

According to The Associated Press, Michael Yowell was set for execution on Wednesday for the murder of his mother and father in 1998, an execution that would be carried out with pentobarbital that was acquired from state compounding pharmacy.

Despite the plaintiffs' arguments that this pentobarbital could cause hypothetical issues, the Fifth Circuit stated that mere speculation is not enough to stop Yowell's execution.

Supreme Court to Hear Child Porn Restitution Case

The Supreme Court is primed to settle a Circuit split over the issue of child porn restitution, in a case where restitution was awarded to a victim who never even met the defendant.

Paroline v. United States is one in a long line of "Amy and Vicky" cases -- ones where restitution is sought from the child porn possessor and not the producer -- and will decide if the Fifth Circuit's approach to proximate cause is superior to other Circuits' views.

What is so different about the Fifth Circuit's ruling in Paroline's case?

Planned Parenthood Sues Texas Over Abortion Law

Planned Parenthood challenged Texas' new abortion law in federal court on Friday, amidst worries that the regulations drastically reduce access to safe abortions.

Reuters reports that Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and other groups joined to oppose Texas legislation that required doctors to have "admitting privileges" at a local hospital as well as directly supervise administration of the RU-486 "abortion pill."

'Mixed Motive' Is Not 'Sole Motive' in Age Discrimination Case

Age discrimination is a strange animal in the federal circuits. Case law-wise, it shares many similarities with Title VII cases, but the jurisprudence is slightly different.

In Leal v. McHugh, the Fifth Circuit tackled a case that exemplifies some of the quirks of age discrimination cases, as well as the low standard of meeting a pleading burden.