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.
Many of the opinions we summarize on Short Circuit reference the “Will of the People.” Judges are like “who am I to find a law unconstitutional? That would overrule the Will of the People.” But what exactly is this “Will” anyway? Do “the People” even know about most laws, let alone “will” them? We at the Center for Judicial Engagement are trying to answer these questions with a conference on Friday, September 10, featuring a slew of top-notch scholars. If you’re in the Washington, DC area we’d love to have you come and join in! Register here. There’s free Virginia CLE.
- Did U.S. intelligence have advance knowledge of a credible threat to Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, whose murder was—to a high degree of confidence—ordered by the Saudi Crown Prince? That’s not the sort of thing you can find out via a public records request, says the D.C. Circuit.
- Allegation: Tenants tell Biddeford, Maine police officer that their landlord just threatened to murder them and shows the officer video of the landlord screaming at them. The landlord then screams at the officer that he has “nothing to lose,” that he’ll be “in the newspaper tomorrow,” and that he’ll make a “bloody mess.” The officer leaves. Minutes later, the landlord shoots the tenants, killing two of them. First Circuit (over a dissent): The officer and the city might be liable.
- Private Massachusetts high school receives three unsolicited one-page faxes from the nonprofit that administers the ACT. As one does in such situations, the school files a class action seeking $400 mil in damages under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which drags on for eight years. First Circuit: The case can’t go forward as a class, but the school’s individual claims can go forward. The nonprofit’s offer to settle for the school’s requested individual damages of $46.5k did not moot the case, because the school didn’t accept the offer.
- Seven months after being arrested by New York City police for alleged drug violations, man successfully has the prosecution dismissed on speedy-trial grounds. He then sues for malicious prosecution. But wait! He can’t sue unless the criminal prosecution had a “favorable termination.” Does dismissal on speedy-trial grounds count? Second Circuit: If the state doesn’t prosecute your case, it’s probably safe to assume it wasn’t a very good case, which sounds like a favorable outcome to us.
- Can a transgender woman who claims she was stabbed and raped by a fellow inmate sue federal prison officials who allegedly ignored her concerns? Third Circuit: “Her case falls comfortably within one of the few contexts in which the Supreme Court has recognized a Bivens remedy.”
- North Carolina state employee health care plan does not cover “gender-confirming” services. Transgender enrollees sue, claiming this violates the Affordable Care Act. Fourth Circuit (over a dissent): You can’t usually sue a state for violating a federal law, but the high standard for waiver of the protections of the Eleventh Amendment was met here (because the plan accepts federal funds conditioned on such a waiver).
- Prisoners must exhaust all available administrative remedies before filing a claim in federal court. Fifth Circuit: It’s possible that no administrative remedy exists for a Texas prisoner concerned
Article from Latest – Reason.com