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

December 2013 News

The Seventh Circuit is a delight to cover -- how could it not be when you have the likes of Posner and Easterbrook writing opinions? And with such high-profile judges on the bench, the Seventh Circuit is in the news sometimes as much for its personalities as it is for the law coming out of the jurisdiction.

As we take this time to get prepped for what 2014 has to offer, here's a look back at 2013 to see the legal highlights from the Seventh Circuit:

We've all heard about State Sen. Wendy Davis' filibuster to stop passage of a Texas abortion law that, among other things, required abortion-clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital less than 30 miles away.

Well, Texas is not the only state to have such a statute; five other states have almost identical statutes: Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee, Missouri, and the one at issue in this case -- Wisconsin. Other states that have similar statutes, with less stringent requirements, include Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, and Utah.

These new laws requiring doctors to have admitting privileges are the new trend among pro-life politicians to further restrict women's access to abortion (which by the way, since they may not have gotten the memo, is legal).

The Seventh Circuit has once again proclaimed its appreciation for the ostrich, and continues to perpetuate the myth that ostriches stick their heads in the sand.

In a drug case, the Seventh Circuit revisited the purpose and meaning of the ostrich instruction, and gave the district court the proverbial bird, as it reinstated the jury's conviction.

The Seventh Circuit seems to be a breeding ground for ADEA jurisprudence -- that doesn't get decided. Just this term, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Madigan v. Levin, and soon after oral arguments, dismissed the case as improvidently granted.

Last week, the Seventh Circuit had the opportunity to decide an issue of first impression for the circuit. Pump your brakes; don't get too excited because no sooner than the court said "issue of first impression," it also declined to decide the issue.

Here we go again...

The Seventh Circuit reviewed an Administrative Law Judge's denial of an applicant's request for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") due to physical and mental impairments. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded on the issue of the determination and effect of her mental impairments.


Carol Bates was in a car accident in 2004, and from that time she suffered from radiating neck pain. In the years after the accident, she had to care for her six adopted children alone, while withstanding the losses of her fiancé and mother. In 2007, Bates filed an application for SSI. In her initial application, she only mentioned the physical pain she experienced, which according to her, impaired her ability to work in, and out of, the home. She began going to therapy in 2006, and saw a psychiatrist in 2009, who diagnosed her with Bipolar Type 2 disorder.

You can file this under "Guidance Counselors' I'm Glad I Never Had," or whatever it is you call your miscellaneous crazy file (you know, the file were you keep print outs of the most ridiculous stuff you've read). Said guidance counselor published an adult "sex advice" book, and then was surprised when he lost his job as a tenured guidance counselor at a public school, in a Chicago suburb.

It's amazing how Judge Posner can take a simple issue, and use it as an excuse to go on, and on. In this case, the issue before the Seventh Circuit was "whether the defendant was served with process" -- but Judge Posner characterized it as one that "could be the basis for a novel of international intrigue."

No matter what you say, this is no case for 007, we just see it as a case of stereotyping, and over-simplification.

Did you know that the clergy get tax breaks? Neither did we. Apparently there's a section in the federal tax code that allows "a minister of the gospel" to not include rental allowances in gross income calculations for tax purposes.