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 Short Circuit podcast: bar wars and mandatory associations.
- The FDA permits the use of electric-shock treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including drug, alcohol, and tobacco addiction. But in 2020, the agency banned the treatment for self-injurious behavior. A clinic that offers the treatment, along with the parents and guardians of patients who have benefited from the treatment, challenge the ban as exceeding the FDA’s authority. D.C. Circuit (over a dissent): And they’re right. Federal law prohibits the FDA from regulating the practice of medicine; once a device is approved for one medical use, only the states can prohibit its use for other purposes.
- Capitol insurrectionist requests bail while charges against him are pending, and the district court says it’s a close call but no. D.C. Circuit: And based on his history of racist and antisemitic statements, his expressed hopes for a second Civil War, his showing up to work with a Hitler mustache, and an incident involving frozen corn cobs and a potato gun emblazoned with the Confederate Flag and the words “WHITE IS RIGHT,” that decision was not clearly erroneous.
- The SEC demands, as a condition of settling any civil-enforcement action, that settling defendants agree never to publicly question their guilt. Can a think tank that wants to publish the speech of people currently gagged by these agreements sue under the First Amendment? D.C. Circuit: It cannot, at least to the extent these agreements are incorporated into the final judgments of sister courts. And we choose to assume they are all so incorporated. (This is an IJ case.)
- Putnam County, W.V. sheriff detains a man walking along the road with an AR-15-style gun on his back. Man: I was walking to a friend’s house to go coyote hunting. Fourth Circuit: The man’s rifle is “the weapon of choice” in mass shootings, he was stopped a week after the Parkland shooting while wearing military-style clothing and less than a mile away from a school, and the sheriff thought he could’ve been under 18 (and thus not eligible to open carry). The stop was fine.
- Religious readers of Short Circuit should stretch their memories all the way back to last week, when the Tenth Circuit held that Oklahoma’s bar-membership requirements did not violate the First Amendment before reading the Fifth Circuit‘s conclusion that Texas’s requirements totally do. And, in a companion case about Louisiana’s state bar, the Fifth Circuit earns your editors’ eternal enmity by referring to this flurry of lawsuits as “bar wars” before we could make that joke ourselves. (We discuss this flurry on the podcast.)
- In 2015, hundreds of bike
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