U.S. First Circuit - The FindLaw 1st Circuit Court of Appeals News and Information Blog

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In elections, there are winners and losers, and there are lawsuit filers, who are usually also the losers.

In the 2018 District 2 election in Maine, this is precisely the case, and the case of Representative Bruce Poliquin just doesn't look good. After the ranked-choice voting, that Maine voters approved a couple years ago, helped Poliquin's opponent Jared Golden win the race, Poliquin filed a lawsuit challenging ranked-choice voting as unconstitutional.

Massachusetts Gun Restrictions Don't Violate 2nd Amendment

A federal appeals court upheld gun restrictions in Massachusetts, saying the Second Amendment is strongest inside the home -- not outside.

In Gould v. Morgan, the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed a trial judge in upholding a firearms licensing statute. The law allowed gun owners to carry firearms in certain activities only.

The First Circuit said the statute had a substantial relationship to the government's interest in promoting public safety and preventing crime. That's also what Boston and Brookline said in defending their local laws.

For the general public, the next few months may be a real test of the public's patience. That's because arguments, evidence, and post-trial motions, have been taken under submission by the Federal District Court in Massachusetts in the big Harvard anti-affirmative action case. Lawyers may be used to waiting for big decisions, but the public might be tested as one isn't expected until next year.

If you're a regular reader of our blogs, or manage to keep your finger on the pulse of national legal news, then you already know about this case and some of the juicy related controversies. If you're just waking up from a coma, or somehow managed to miss headlines, anti-affirmative action supporters are basically claiming that Asian-American students are given lower admissions scores because they are Asian; the school basically claims the students who have lower personality scores are just boring.

Eddie Bauer Store Accused of Racial Hostility in Lawsuit

A young, well-dressed African-American man interviewed for a job at Eddie Bauer, but he didn't get the job and he never knew why.

In a new lawsuit, however, a former employee there says she knows why. The store manager at the Augusta store allegedly put it this way:

"Well, he's black and customers won't buy anything from him," the manager said in Atkins-Poulin v. Eddie Bauer. "We never hire people like that here."

In the big anti-affirmative action case playing out in a federal court in Boston, recently the federal Department of Justice announced its support for the plaintiffs in the case against Harvard.

If this case has managed to fly under your radar, the facts might sound a little confusing. But to sum it up, an anti-affirmative action organization has sued Harvard on behalf of Asian students claiming Harvard's race based admissions harm Asian students and violate federal nondiscrimination laws. The case is slated to go to trial this October.

New Hampshire has law allowing vote counters to discard absentee ballots if the signature on the ballot doesn't match the signature on the voter's registration card. This law has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court in the state.

Despite the low statistical significance of the law's impact (the law affected approximately 0.5 percent of votes), even a small amount adds up to a few hundred individuals being denied the right to vote. The district court acknowledged that absentee voting isn't as clearly established of a right as voting itself, but it explained that when absentee voting is offered by a state, there must be procedural safeguards.

ACLU Sues for Man to Get Addiction Treatment in Jail

Cold turkey works for some people, but not Zachary Smith.

He is a long-time addict, starting with opioid painkillers when he was a teenager. When his sister died of a heroin overdose, he got scared and serious about getting treatment.

That's why he is suing the Department of Corrections in Maine. They won't give him his prescription, and he's afraid he will die in jail. The ACLU is now fighting to get him addiction treatment.

In a federal First Circuit appeal that pulls at the heartstrings while also pushing the boundaries of privacy rights, a disabled, non-verbal primary school student has been denied the right to carry around an audio or video recorder while at school.

Although it was the student's parents that were pushing for this, anyone with the littlest shred of empathy would easily understand their plight. The parents of the student steadfastly maintain that their son should be allowed to carry a working audio recorder while at school so that they can know what is going on. Unfortunately for the parents, the school, and the courts, just didn't see it the same way.

New Hampshire law allows, but doesn't require, abortion clinics to create a buffer zone around their facilities, of up to 25 feet. The public, with some exceptions, is excluded from that zone.

Abortion opponents sued to have the law overturned under the Supreme Court's McCullen v. Coakley decision, issued just a few days after the buffer zone law was enacted. Except there's a fatal flaw to that lawsuit, the First Circuit ruled last Wednesday: the law has never been activated or enforced.

Drug-Testing Discrimination Case Revived by First Circuit

Reviving a lawsuit by black police officers who claimed hair testing for drugs discriminated against them, a federal appeals court has ruled that hair testing "plus urinalysis" could be a reliable alternative to hair testing alone.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a trial court decision against ten Boston Police Department employees who claimed that the hair test alone was discriminatory. According to the court, hair tests showed that 99 percent of white workers did not use illegal drugs and 98 percent of black employees did not use them.

The court said that amounted to a disparate impact on the black officers, and that a hair test plus urinalysis could have been offered to them instead. The trial court must reconvene for a jury to decide whether "hair testing plus urinalysis" would be more fair to the officers.

"The record contains sufficient evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could conclude that hair testing plus a follow-up series of random urinalysis tests for those few officers who tested positive on the hair test would have been as accurate as the hair test alone at detecting the nonpresence of cocaine metabolites while simultaneously yielding a smaller share of false positives in a manner that would have reduced the disparate impact of the hair test," the court said.