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.
New on the Bound By Oath podcast: inhumane jail conditions and the Supreme Court’s debunked justifications for qualified immunity.
- In an effort to improve price transparency in the healthcare sector, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has directed hospitals to post certain price information online. D.C. Circuit: These “factual and uncontroversial” compelled disclosures do not violate the First Amendment. The hospitals argue the information won’t actually be useful to consumers, but the Secretary found otherwise and we don’t require “evidentiary parsing” to uphold disclosure requirements.
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Tweet? After a U.K. financier tweets that a D.C. resident is a “Russian intelligence asset” and “Russian GRU officer,” the alleged Russian spy sues the financier for defamation in federal court in D.C. D.C. Circuit: On the current record, we’re not sure if the U.K. financier’s contacts with the District are sufficient to subject the financier to the jurisdiction in D.C., so we’ll remand for some jurisdictional discovery.
- In 2013, the feds leased the Old Post Office building, which now houses a luxury hotel, to the Trump Organization. The lease explicitly prohibits any federal elected officials from benefiting from it, and, upon President Trump’s election, certain members of the House Oversight Committee seek records from the feds to determine how much the president is benefiting. D.C. Circuit: Federal law says the members are entitled to the documents; the feds have withheld them; that’s enough of an injury for standing. Dissent: Federal law says the legislature has been injured, not individual legislators. Allowing a handful of members of the minority party to harass the executive branch with information requests is sure to be ruinous.
- Following SCOTUS’s lead, the Second Circuit applies strict scrutiny to Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 orders that single out religious gatherings for “especially harsh treatment” in New York.
- Plaintiff: The government, invoking an arms-control statute, says it might punish me for publishing certain publicly available information without a license. This violates the First Amendment! Second Circuit: First Amendment, Schmirst Amendment. The statute already says the government can’t do that, so you should all just go home.
- Naval officer goes to get his kids lunch money from a Newport News, Va. ATM. He’s shot to death in his car. Turns out his wife, who was set to get half a mil in death benefits a
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