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

April 2015 News

Highland Park's assault weapon ban does not violate the Second Amendment, the Seventh Circuit ruled on Monday. The ritzy Chicagoland suburb had banned the weapons in 2013, in part to evade a state law which would have prevented future legislation on such bans. The issue was so contentious at the time that residents skipped the Stanley Cup finals to debate the issue.

Judge Easterbrook wrote the opinion, with Judge Williams joining and Manion dissenting. The two justice majority asserted that Supreme Court precedent should not be read like legislation, governing the totality of Second Amendment rights, and that many questions regarding weapons, crime and self-defense are best left to the political process.

Navajo Prisoner Entitled to Venison, Colored Bandana: 7th Cir.

The Free Exercise Clause lets practitioners of Santeria in Florida ritually slaughter chickens, and lets a Muslim inmate have a half-inch-long beard.

Add David Schlemm to the list. He's a member of the Navajo tribe, imprisoned in Wisconsin, who wants to be able to practice certain religious rituals, namely eating venison and wearing a multicolored bandana while praying.

And you know what? The Seventh Circuit, led by Judge Frank Easterbrook, said OK.

A Mongolian business man will get a second chance at asylum after the Seventh Circuit found that his credibility was inappropriately denied based on poorly conducted airport interviews. Gonchigsharav Nadmid had arrived in the United States in 2009, seeking asylum from alleged corruption and abuse by Mongolian politicians.

An immigration judge found Nadmid to lack credibility, however, based largely on airport interviews conducted on his arrival -- and in Russian. Since those interviews revealed a significant language barrier, the Seventh Circuit held, the immigration judge was wrong to rely on them to discount Nadmid's credibility.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson's suit challenging Obamacare's changes to congressional health plans was dismissed by the Seventh Circuit for lack of standing on Tuesday. Johnson and his legislative counsel had sued after the Affordable Care Act resulted in changes to their healthcare options, including federal subsidies for their health care plans. Johnson, however, had purchased his own private healthcare instead of participating in the federal program.

The two couldn't show an injury, needed to provide standing to sue, a unanimous Seventh Circuit ruled. The government had simply provided them a benefit which they refused.

Smoking Gun in Text Message Antitrust Suit Not Smoking Enough

Remember the days before unlimited text messaging plans? Text messages seemed to cost an obscene amount of money. If you actually calculated the data cost, at 20 cents per text, it averaged out to over $1,300 per megabyte.

The current litigation in the Seventh Circuit is now over four years old. It's a class action brought by text messaging customers claiming wireless providers conspired to drive up text message prices in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. After all that time, a district court granted summary judgment for the wireless carriers and dismissed the case. Last week, in an opinion by Judge Richard Posner, the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

Insurance companies who lost billions after the September 11th terrorist attacks won't be able to recover that money from $6 million in seized terrorist accounts, the Seventh Circuit ruled last week. Though the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) authorizes the use of such assets to pay judgments against terrorists, these funds fall into one of the act's exceptions.

It's not all bad news for victims of terrorism, though. While the insurers won't be able to collect from these funds, the Seventh split with the Fifth and adopted a broad reading of TRIA's "notwithstanding any provision of law" clause, finding it allowed claimants to avoid innocent ownership requirements of civil forfeiture law.

Chicago Window Washers Exempt from Overtime, Says 7th Cir.

Are window washers exempt from overtime? They very well could be, the Seventh Circuit said in an opinion issued on April 1 (which is no joke, by the way).

Judge Richard Posner wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel in affirming a grant of summary judgment to window-cleaning company CCS against several current and former employees who claimed window washers didn't fall outside one of the exceptions to overtime in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

What Is the Indiana Religious Freedom Law About, Anyway?

Indiana has been in the news for the last week, and not for a good reason. Last week, Indiana Governor Mike Pence quietly signed into law the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which in many ways mirrors similar statutes enacted in 19 other states.

Gay rights advocates pointed out, however, that the Indiana law differs significantly from other laws in that it may allow "religious freedom" as a defense to discrimination even in civil causes of action, and even allows corporations to discriminate, with the ability to assert religion as a defense.