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4th Circuit Clogs Atantic Coast Pipeline

Court opinions are like pipelines -- sometimes it takes a while for them to get through.

At least that's what's happening with the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The appeals court finally got its message through to the contractors building the 600-mile pipeline.

Stop, the judges said in Sierra Club v. United States Department of the Interior. It wasn't the first time.

Trump Emoluments Case Can Proceed, Federal Judge Says

Don't expect President Trump to check out of his own hotel, but some of his foreign guests may have to following a court ruling.

A federal judge ruled that the emoluments case may proceed against the president, based on allegations that he has profited from foreign or state officials while in office. Maryland and Washington, D.C. filed suit against him for violating the emoluments clause by receiving income from the Trump International Hotel.

Trump's attorneys tried to throw out the lawsuit, but the judge said an emolument is "any profit, gain or advantage." The ruling was a big tip -- and a lot more than a $20 bill -- that the president might be in trouble.

Fourth Circuit Nominees Sail Through Judiciary Committee

Being in the right place at the right time does not usually describe a judicial nominee's position before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But it might apply for two nominees to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. and Jay Richardson "breezed" through their Senate hearings.

If not the right place at the right time, it was good place for a short time. The nominees might make it to the bench before the summer break.

Court Revives 'Ag Gag' Lawsuit in North Carolina

For all the attention on North Carolina's ag-gag law, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals saw the challengers' case as straightforward.

They have standing to sue, the appeals court said in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Stein. Basically, the plaintiffs alleged sufficient injury to proceed in their pre-emptive strike against the statute.

PETA and others had sued before the state enforced the law, which was designed to protect businesses from private undercover investigations. In an unpublished decision, the Fourth Circuit said it's enough that the plaintiffs feared the potential penalties.

Veterans Appeal Burn Pits Cases Against Military Contractor

If hell is war, then it looks like the smoldering pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And more than 800 American service members are suing a company that dumped tires, batteries, medical waste and other materials into burn pits there and released toxins into the air. The survivors allege the smoke caused stomach illnesses, neurological problems, cancers and other health issues; twelve died.

A trial judge dismissed their cases last year, but their lawyers told the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that the war is not over. The question, in some quarters, is whether they have a chance at all.

Judges Knock Permit in Pipeline Controversy

A federal appeals court pushed back construction of an Atlantic Coast pipeline, but that's not stopping the main contractor on the project.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said a permit for the project was inadequate to protect environmental concerns. Plaintiffs' lawyers say all work must stop, but the lead developer is pushing forward.

In the meantime, the appeals court said it will address the particulars of the construction soon. For now, the permit and the order are problems.

Controversial Gas Pipeline Cases Heard by 4th Circuit

The Sierra Club filed two lawsuits to stop a gas pipeline, and they converged in arguments at the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In one case, the club says the 303-mile pipeline will violate the Clean Water Act. In the other, the plaintiff argues that construction will harm forest aminals.

But the arguments flowed together over a basic consequence of river water -- sedimentation.

Court Strikes City's Adult Entertainment License Law

The way the appeals court tells it, the Gentleman's Playhouse decision is just a license case.

In American Entertainer, LLC v. City of Rocky Mount, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals describes a dispute over the city's licensing requirements for adult entertainment. The strip club said the local ordinance gave the police chief too much discretion to deny licenses.

The club also complained about First Amendment violations, age restrictions and other concerns, but the appeals court wouldn't have it. Stripped to the basics, the decision is about a business license.

Julius "Jay" Richardson has a long and distinguished resume. His most high-profile case involved prosecuting the notorious Dylann Roof. Now Richardson can add another notch to his belt: he was just nominated to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Trump.

Interestingly, Richardson's nomination may seem out of left field, but the prosecutor has some experience on the other side of the bench, though not as a judge. He served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, as well as FindLaw favorite, the Seventh Circuit's own bearer of benchslaps, Judge Posner.

Maryland Drug-Pricing Law Overturned

Lawrence Hogan, Jr. is not a lawyer, but he knows a bad law when he sees one.

Hogan, the rare Republican governor of Maryland, told state legislators that he would not sign their bill because it was unconstitutional. It became law without his signature, but that was not the end of it.

The end came two years later when the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck the law against price-gouging sales of prescription drugs. It's unconstitutional, the appeals court said.