U.S. Sixth Circuit - The FindLaw 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

November 2017 Archives

Judge Sam Benningfield, of White County, Tennessee, made national headlines this spring, again over the summer, and is doing it one more time this fall. For the most part, it's all related to the same idea he had that was so wild it violated the Constitution.

Benningfield, back in May, issued an order that gave inmates 30 days credit in exchange for undergoing a birth control procedure. For male inmates, it involved a vasectomy, for female inmates, it involved a placement of the Nexplannon device, a birth control device that is implanted in the arm and lasts for three years. Not surprisingly, after his order was announced, an outcry and investigation ensued. As a result of that investigation, Benningfield received a public reprimand from the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct.

A group of blind voters, along with the National Federation of the Blind, successfully appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit against Ohio's Secretary of State, Jon Husted, to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case involves a challenge to Ohio's absentee voting process claiming it is discriminatory against blind voters under the ADA.

The case was dismissed after the state filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The state asserted that the requested relief was not reasonable or practical because the plaintiffs sought the implementation of certain online voting tools that had not been certified by the state's election board. The heart of the state's claim was that the plaintiffs were trying to use the ADA to get around state procedural laws. While the district court agreed, the circuit court did not.

Honeywell Retirees Won't Get Health Benefits

The Honeywell Autolite factory in Fostoria, Ohio, once employed more than 1,000 people; that was nearly 10 percent of the town's population.

Then, following a string of factory closures in the area, the spark plug plant started to close down. Today, there's only a handful of workers at the plant and not much they can do about it.

For Honeywell retirees, it's even worse. They had counted on health insurance benefits, but a federal appeals court said the company doesn't owe them any.

Using a rarely exercised bit of appellate procedure, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to take up an interlocutory appeal of the Trump campaign rally incitement case. The lower court had denied Trump's motion to dismiss the incitement claim, but then certified the opinion so that the order could be appealed (as normally orders on a motion to dismiss are not eligible for interlocutory appeals).

But, as the circuit court noted, the procedural circumstances, like the facts, in this case, are rather unique. Clearly the appellate court sees the value in an early resolution of this issue, as a determination that Trump's speech is protected under the First Amendment would squash the incitement claim, and squashing claims against a sitting U.S. president is something the federal courts are somewhat motivated to do in order to maintain political peace.

Justice Joan Larsen Confirmed to Sixth Circuit

Justice Joan Larsen will join the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, becoming the second woman confirmed to a federal appeals court by the Senate this week.

Larsen also becomes the ninth woman on the Sixth Circuit, bringing her perspective to a court where men outnumber women two to one. The female jurist is hardly defined by gender, but her appointment represents clear differences in the judiciary.

In addition to more women, President Trump has appointed more judges in a shorter period of time than the last two presidents. New judges are coming on strong.

Prominent federal court and federal appellate court Justice Damon Jerome Keith, now 95 years old, is celebrating his 50th year of judging, and doesn't show any signs of getting off the bench.

Judge Keith started his judicial career in 1967 when President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the federal Eastern District Court in Michigan. A decade later President Jimmy Carter nominated Judge Keith for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has remained for the last 40 years.