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

November 2014 Archives

Gay Marriage Comes to Mississippi -- Yes, That Mississippi

"If gay marriage can be legal in Mississippi, the whole country can feel hope."

True indeed, Jocelyn "Joce" Pritchett. Pritchett is one of the plaintiffs in the Mississippi gay marriage case, a federal case where a judge just struck down that state's same-sex marriage ban, reports The Associated Press.

The Mississippi decision is especially notable due to the people of Mississippi's opposition to same-sex marriage, an opinion that they have made "abundantly clear through every channel in which popular opinion can be voiced," U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves in Jackson, Mississippi wrote.

Same Sex Couples Ask Tex. Judge to Lift Stay, Allow Marriages

Thanks to some intrepid journalism by FindLaw blogger (and native Texan) Brett Snider, we've obtained a copy of the plaintiffs' motion to lift the stay on the injunction against Texas' same-sex marriage ban.

That's a lot of prepositions. Way back in February, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas held the state's same sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The court stayed enforcement of its injunction, however, because same-sex marriage cases were pending at the Supreme Court and in other federal circuit courts of appeal.

5th Cir.: Miss. Election Disclosure Law Is Constitutional

Well, the state of campaign finance laws isn't all bad. A month or so after the Tenth Circuit said that Citizens United didn't have to disclose the contributors to its film "Rocky Mountain Heist," the Fifth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of Mississippi's campaign disclosure requirements, reversing a district court order to the contrary.

The case centers on a state law that requires disclosure when a political committee advocating for a voter-initiated amendment to the state constitution receives a donation of over $200 from a single person in a given month or when a single, unaffiliated individual spends over $200 "to influence voters."

Will Texas Execute Schizophrenic Who Defended Himself in a Cowboy Suit?

Mad, deranged, demented, non compos mentis, unhinged, mad as a hatter, nutty, off one's rocker, not right in the head -- insane, or just plain crazy.

Or, if you prefer the politically correct term: Scott Panetti is a man suffering from mental illness -- severe schizophrenia, to be even more specific. He's also on death row. In 1992, he shaved his head (poorly) and murdered his in-laws before holding his wife and daughter captive at gunpoint. He then represented himself in a purple cowboy costume and was sentenced to death.

Texas wants to execute him on December 3. Panetti still believes that his execution is being orchestrated by Satan, working through the State of Texas, to put an end to his preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the condemned.

A Review of the 5th Cir.'s Redesigned Website: We've Seen Worse

There's a trend happening: Each federal circuit court of appeals is redesigning its website. Though all of the new sites are visually similar, and perhaps based on a common template or codebase, each has its own pros and cons.

Previously, I wrote a long, hateful rant about the Tenth Circuit's website. Little has changed -- it is still terrible. Most of the other circuit courts' redesigns have gone far more smoothly.

But what about the Fifth Circuit's shiny new website?

WWE Can Get Court Order to Bust Counterfeiters Near Superdome

Can you get a court order against nobody in particular? Apparently so, if this Fifth Circuit ruling is any indication.

World Wrestling Entertainment, like all entertainment entities, battles bootleggers. Bootleggers sell merchandise on tables in the street near WWE events. Determining the identities of these pop-up bootleg shopkeepers is nearly impossible in advance, so the WWE sought a blanket order that would basically cover anyone within "broad geographic and temporal limits," the district court noted.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lower court wasn't convinced, but the Fifth Circuit, noting that nobody except the WWE itself has the right to peddle its merchandise, reversed and sent the case back to the court to settle other pressing issues, like whether Stone Cold Steve Austin can body slam bootleggers through their tables.

5th Cir. Preview of 3 Huge Cases: Obamacare, Abortion, Gay Marriage

Every circuit gets its 15 minutes of fame. The Tenth Circuit drew a lot of attention this year for being the first to rule on marriage equality. The Fourth and D.C. Circuits battled for headlines by releasing conflicting Obamacare subsidy opinions on the same day. And everyone is waiting on the Sixth Circuit, which could be the first to rule against gay marriage, which would likely lead to a Supreme Court showdown on the issue.

The next few months, however, will belong to the Fifth Circuit. On December 2, a panel will hear a challenge to Obamacare based on the origination clause. And in early January, the Fifth Circuit will hear oral arguments in consolidated gay marriage cases out of Louisiana and Texas, as well as a full review of Texas House Bill 2, the controversial law that set forth broad restrictions on abortions in the state.