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

Recent Civil Rights Law Decisions

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.

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.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the dismissal of a sexual orientation discrimination and retaliation case brought by a resident of a senior center.

The case alleges that the resident was subjected to pejorative verbal attacks, and even physical attacks, on multiple occasions. Furthermore, despite notifying the staff, nothing was done to protect her from the abusive tenants. The district court came down on the side of senior center as it agreed the Fair Housing Act only imposed liability on landlords for acting with discriminatory animus. However, the circuit court had a different reading of the FHA.

Smart meters have been a curiously controversial issue. Though most of the uproar that local news captured seemed to be from delusional paranoid individuals, it turns out there was another, more serious, and real danger.

Smart meter data can tell law enforcement a lot about an individual or household. And though the use of smart meters may not seem like such a huge intrusion upon a person's individual civil liberties and right to privacy, the Seventh Circuit explained that smart meter data does fall under the Fourth Amendment's protections; however, city utilities, generally, have a reasonable purpose for accessing the information and therefore do not need a warrant.

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.