Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions
Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.
Friends, if the Supreme Court reforms qualified immunity anytime soon, the history books will say the Court first showed its hand this month in Tanzin v. Tanzir. So say IJ attorneys Anya Bidwell and Patrick Jaicomo in USA Today.
New on the Short Circuit podcast: We ask the Supreme Court to bring the Privileges or Immunities Clause back to life.
- First Circuit: In which Judge Selya would like to remind everyone (1) that denials of temporary restraining orders generally are not appealable, and (2) that Shakespeare’s original phrase was “paint the lily,” not “gild the lily.” (Bonus Selya Vocab: Devoir (noun): duty or responsibility.)
- The ATF maintains a firearm-tracing database to assist federal, state, local, and even foreign law enforcement agencies in investigating the sale and possession of certain firearms. And that database is exempt from FOIA, says the Second Circuit. So a nonprofit seeking information about firearms used in suicides is out of luck.
- Scammer/Spammer is convicted under the CAN-SPAM act for using spam email to pump up the price of penny stocks, which he then sold for a profit. On top of that, he’s also subject to deportation if he caused more than $10k in victim losses. Spammer: There’s no evidence I caused anyone financial loss. DHS: Well he must have, because the trial judge gave him a sentence that reflected at least $40k in victim losses. Third Circuit: Ah, but sentencing decisions are decided based on the preponderance of the evidence; removal requires clear and convincing. So the case goes back down for another look.
- Following news reports of lavish spending by justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, the court’s (now-former) chief justice is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, and related crimes. Following his conviction, his lawyers discover that one of the jurors had previously “liked” or retweeted four tweets relating to the scandal. Former chief justice: I’m entitled to an evidentiary hearing on whether the juror was biased against me. Fourth Circuit: Not so. Partial dissent: I agree that the former chief justice failed to make out a claim of bias. But he should have been allowed to explore the extent of the juror’s Twitter activity during the trial, since she follows the accounts of two reporters who used the platform to report on the proceedings throughout.
- Allegations: After Wood County, Tex. deputy accused a fellow deputy of falsifying a personnel report, the sheriff promptly fired the accuser, designated her discharge “dishonorable,” and denied her a name-clearing hearing. District court: Denying her a name-clearing hearing was a clear due-process violation. No qualified immunity. Fifth Circuit: We should frame the constitutional question with more “granularity,” and so framed, qualified immunity applies.
- Fifth Circuit: Oil-rig worker who earns more than $200k per year is still entitled to overtime under the plain text of federal law. Meanwhile, Judge Ho and Judge Weiner trade barbs, with all due respect.
Article from Latest – Reason.com