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

Recent Civil Rights Law Decisions

A new strip club that was planning on opening in the same spot as a closed down strip club recently filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana when the City of Fort Wayne refused to allow the new club to open.

While the city's ordinances clearly would prohibit the strip club from opening in the disputed location, the location had been "grandfathered" in. However, when renovations ran long after a change in ownership, the city refused to honor the prior exemption, claiming it expired after a year of non-use.

Terminated FBI Agent Loses Muslim Discrimination Claim

For Khalid Khowaja, it seemed like being a Muslim and an FBI agent wasn't a good fit.

In a discrimination lawsuit, he said other agents treated him differently because of his religion. One supervisor yelled Arabic holy phrases at the office, and another said he was "not our typical agent."

But in Khowaja v. Sessions, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of his lawsuit. In the end, Khowaja apparently didn't get along well with others.

Court: 'Selective' Abortions Are Unconstitutional

For the second time in a week, a federal appeals court has struck down an abortion law as unconstitutional.

In the latest ruling, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said an Indiana law unlawfully banned "selective" abortions. The law specifically targeted fetuses based on gender, race, or disability.

In a separate case, an appeals panel voided an Ohio law that cut off funds to abortion clinics. If the decisions alone weren't enough to inflame one of the most controversial and political fires in America, the Indiana law was signed into law by then Gov. Mike Pence.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is sure to be spreading joy and cheer in this most wonderful time of the year. A three judge panel just ruled that Concord High School's Christmas Spectacular is not unconstitutional.

The high school's performance had gone on for over four decades before anyone objected. Surprisingly, when an organization that advocates for the separation of church and state objected, the school actually changed the play. However, the group did not believe the changes were adequate and filed a lawsuit and won. In response, the school changed the play even more, and then put the new version on, prompting a new lawsuit from the same group.

In a unanimous ruling, the Illinois State Supreme Court has found that a state law banning firearms within 1,000 feet of a park violates the Second Amendment. The ruling rested upon the concept that Second Amendment rights cannot simply be categorically restricted unless there are very good reasons.

The law that came under question didn't just ban firearms from within 1,000 feet of a park, but also schools, courthouses, public transit facilities, and public housing. However, due to how restrictive the law made it to carry a gun near a park, the ruling only impacted that portion of the law.

For many United States citizens, it comes as a shock to learn that fellow U.S. citizens living in the U.S. territories don't have the right to vote for the president. While Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands are all part of the United States, and the residents born there are all citizens, they simply do not get the right to vote for president under the constitution.

This lack of a constitutional right to vote was recently confirmed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Segovia v. United States. A group of citizens from Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, filed suit to be permitted to vote in their former home state of Illinois via absentee ballot. Both the district and appellate courts rejected their claim.

Indiana Court Historical Society Makes a Movie: Watch Free Online

As the Civil War raged, attorney Lambdin P. Milligan urged people to fight for slavery.

He told them to take arms against the U.S. government. He said he would rather die than lose his liberty.

"Let liberty be your watchword, and let it resound from every stump in Indiana," he said in a speech. That was Aug. 13, 1864.

Now the Historical Society of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana has brought his speech and story back to life.

Fresh off the bench, Judge Richard Posner, or Dick, as Chief Judge Diane Wood calls him, has been stirring up some controversy on the court he used to serve. His new books explains his belief that pro se litigants don't get a fair shake in his former circuit, and not surprisingly, the justices still sitting on the bench in the Seventh Circuit disagree.

In a statement provided by Judge Wood to Above the Law, she explains that Dick is alone in his view that the staff attorneys don't do a good a job for pro se litigants, or disfavor pro se litigants. She calls his views "assumptions."

Court to Consider Attorney's Fees in Prison Beating Case

After all that Charles Murphy suffered at the hands of prison guards, his case is going to the U.S. Supreme Court over another issue: attorney's fees.

The High Court has docketed the case, Murphy v. Smith, to decide whether a portion of a judgment means "up to 25 percent" or "exactly 25 percent" for attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that Murphy has to pay 25 percent of the fees from his award.

Murphy's attorneys, who won a $307,733 judgment, said the appeals court cut too much into the recovery for attorney's fees to be paid by the plaintiff. They want the defendants -- prison guards who beat him -- to pay more.

Civil Rights Law Includes LGBT Job Bias

In a historic decision, a federal appeals court ruled that civil rights laws protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace.

It is the first time in the United States that a court has extended the 1964 Civil Rights Act to workers who identify with the LGBT community. Other courts traditionally have said that sexual orientation was not protected because it was not defined in the Civil Rights Act.

"For many years, the courts of appeals of this country understood the prohibition against sex discrimination to exclude discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation," Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the en banc majority. "We conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination."