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, today the Supreme Court will consider whether to grant cert to a case of towering importance and keen historical interest. We refer of course to Courtney v. Danner, which will give the Court the chance to breathe some life back into the Fourteenth Amendment’s long-neglected Privileges or Immunities Clause. George Will has the story over at The Washington Post.
This week, the folks over at the Undisclosed podcast, who are digging into a cold case investigation that quite possibly put an innocent man in prison, were kind enough to have IJ’s Anya Bidwell as well as your own humble editor on their show to talk about our show.
- After an ESPN article alleges that the head of a nonprofit meant to assist veterans is using the group’s money for, for instance, a plane ticket for her son and an advance of $22k to buy Moroccan rugs, the IRS takes an interest, even sending an agent to the woman’s child-custody hearing the next month to learn more about her finances. She’s prosecuted, but the jury can’t reach a verdict thanks to one holdout juror. The jury returns deadlocked three separate times, and each time the judge sends them back with instructions to keep trying. His instructions are modeled after, but not identical to, the standard instructions. A little more than an hour after the third somewhat ad-libbed instruction, the jury reaches a verdict—guilty on all counts. D.C. Circuit: Those instructions likely coerced the lone holdout. New trial.
- When the Shawnee Tribe sued to challenge the methodology used by the Treasury Secretary to distribute coronavirus relief funds to state and tribal governments, the district court dismissed on the ground that the distribution of funds was a matter of agency discretion and thus not reviewable in court. D.C. Circuit: Nope. The CARES Act says that funds must be distributed “based on increased expenditures . . . relative to aggregate expenditures,” and the district court can review the Secretary’s methodology under that standard.
- Back in 2017, CNN sued under the Freedom of Information Act to access memos written by former FBI Director James Comey following meetings with President Trump. Following a series of public disclosures and court rulings, the sole remaining issue in the case is whether FBI can continue to redact forty-some words from a declaration that it filed in district court in order to justify redactions from the Comey memos. D.C. Circuit: The declaration was filed in court to influence a judicial decision and, thus, is a judicial record. There is a “strong presumption” in favor of disclosure of judicial records, but that presumption is not absolute. Here, we’re not convinced the public has much interest in the redacted parts of the declaration (as distinct from the information that has already been disclosed) and we see serious national security concerns with ordering disclosure. The district court can weigh all that on remand.
- Ramapo, N.Y. school district contains 29,279 (mostly Jewish) students attending private schools and 8,843 (mostly
Article from Latest – Reason.com