U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Tribes Sue State Over Property Taxes On Reservation Lands

Native American tribes sued Wisconsin officials for trying to tax their land, renewing a battle they thought had ended more than 150 years ago.

By treaty in 1854, the Chippewa tribes claim their land was forever exempt from property taxes. Until recently, that seemed to be true.

Now the tribes want a court to settle the dispute and an injunction in LAC Court Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin v. Walker.

Challenge to Illinois Liquor Law Revived

A federal appeals court revived a challenge to an Illinois liquor law, but forewarned the plaintiffs their case may not be easy.

In LeBamoff Enterprises v. Rauner, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court that had dismissed the plaintiffs' case with prejudice. The appeals court said the trial judge acted too quickly, noting there are material issues about the reasons for the state statute.

The 21st Amendment permits states to regulate liquor sales, the appeals panel said, but they cannot engage in "unlawful economic protectionism."

Illinois Legislator's Free-Speech Claims Rejected by 7th Circuit

A federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit by a Republican state senator who said his party leaders retaliated against him for challenging them.

Illinois State Sen. Sam McCann, upset with the party and its choice for governor in the primaries, had announced that he would run as a third-party candidate in the general election. That same day, the senate minority leader kicked him out of the Republican caucus.

In McCann v. Brady, McCann says the leadership expelled him for exercising his right to free speech. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals basically said there is no free speech in politics.

Court Affirms Sanctions Against Lawyer for Attorney's Fee 'Stunt'

It's really not necessary to read the tea leaves in court decisions.

A form of divination, tasseography is the practice of telling a person's fortune by reading patterns in tea leaves. It is wholly baloney, yet even lawyers try to read things into the leaves of court decisions all the time.

In Bell v. Vacuforce, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was quite clear about the lawyers' positions in the case. The judges called out one lawyer for an attorney's fee "stunt," and chided the other lawyer, too.

Judge Still Doesn't Like Cheese -- Case

If you thought cheese could make you fat, what would you think if you found out it was made of cellulose?

Cheese and crackers! You may as well just inject fat into your thighs. Hook up an IV with liquid cholesterol.

Actually cellulose doesn't make you fat, but we try to do a gouda job reporting here and a cheese case is too good to cut straight. If you think that sounds cheesy, a Chicago judge didn't like it either:

Circuit Hears Debate on Clergy Housing Tax Break

It turns out that taxes are not certain -- particularly when it comes to religion.

Judge Barbara Crabb made that point in Gaylor v. Mnuchin, when she said a tax break for the clergy is unconstitutional. Now the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is deciding whether she was right.

The Seventh Circuit did not agree with her when they vacated her decision the first time. This time, the appellants are proceeding on faith that the panel will give them a break.

Chicago in Court for Police Reform

Judge Michael Dow, Jr., who is presiding over a high-profile case on police reforms, knows a lot.

He holds doctorates of philosophy and law from the nation's finest educational institutions. But that's not what makes him smart enough to handle the case.

With hundreds of people trying to get into the courtroom, the judge decided to let 76 voice their opinion. What he knows -- perhaps more than anybody -- is that they need to be heard.

When it comes to providing equal access to county services, a Wisconsin school district was accused of discriminating against a Catholic school because it refused to provide school bus service to it.

Unfortunately for the school, both a federal district court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal agreed, the school district's rule preventing the Catholic school from getting bus service was not discriminatory. As both courts noted, the district already provided bus services to another Catholic school under the same policy.

A group of plaintiffs in the city of Chicago have filed a lawsuit against the state of Illinois for not doing enough when it comes to gun control.

The plaintiffs are all individuals who have lost at least one family member to gun violence. And the lawsuit blames the state's failure to implement common sense gun control for the 2,000 gun related murders over the past three years. The lawsuit explains that the gun violence is beyond an epidemic and is having a disproportionate impact on the African American community.

Court: Village Can't Confer 'Right-To-Work' Law

A local municipality can't confer a right to work on employees who opt not to join unions, a federal appeals court said.

In International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 v. Village of Lincolnshire, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said a municipality's "right-to-work" agreement violated the National Labor Relations Act.

The only problem is that not everybody agrees -- including the Sixth Circuit. Sooner or later, the issue could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.