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.
If a SWAT team destroys an innocent person’s house, does the government owe any compensation? Yesterday, a federal district court said it’s a definite possibility and threw out the city of McKinney, Texas’s motion to dismiss IJ client Vicki Baker’s case. Click here to learn more.
- Is a “trucky trailer” a vehicle? No, this isn’t a new round of the Hart-Fuller debate, but a question of the interpretation of two statutes the federal government used to try and regulate fuel efficiency standards for those trailers. The D.C. Circuit ruled, without applying the Chevron doctrine, that a trailer is not itself a vehicle. The dissent, applying Chevron, says it is. (We discuss this opinion on the podcast this week.)
- Around 368 right whales exist in the wild, and a leading cause of their death is getting entangled in lobster-trap lines. Following a stark decline in the whales’ numbers, the feds issued a rule seasonally barring the most popular lobstering method in a nearly 1,000 square mile area of the Atlantic. Lobsterers: Right whales don’t aggregate in that area. First Circuit: But some whales could be there and die from the lobster-trap lines, which is enough to allow the rule to be enforced this winter.
- Allegation: After 15 years of teaching in the United States at an Islamic school in New York, Iranian citizen is informed that the Department of Labor has decided that their initial work approval was wrong and they’re revoking it. But, claims the teacher, this is a pretext: The FBI told her that her immigration status would be in jeopardy unless she provided information about Iran’s relationship with the U.S. When she didn’t have any information, they retaliated. Second Circuit: Absolutely none of which matters, because we don’t have jurisdiction over this sort of thing.
- Three NYPD officers beat man unconscious, break his nose, and arrest him. They fabricate a story about how the man punched one of the cops multiple times while resisting arrest. Video corroborates the man’s story, and a jury awards nearly half a million in compensatory and punitive damages. Cops: Way too much in damages for just “a few minutes of violence.” Second Circuit: You beat the man unprovoked and then repeatedly lied about it. The damages stand.
- Arrrr ye bilge rat! Who be claimin’ that a district court can’t grant a sailorman his coin when officers of his Majesty’s Coast Guard detain him up in port, and all his fancy fruits and coco-nuts from south of the Line goes to rot? It goes against the immemorial custom of the sea, it does! Third Circuit: The scurvy dog! This is an admiralty case if ever one was. Reversed and remanded it be!
- South Carolina man is sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer, but seeks habeas relief on the ground—among others—that one of the jurors was so hearing-impaired that she was not competent to sit on the jury. Fourth Circuit (last May): To be sure, the interactions between the juror and the court “include some troubling exchanges,” such as her repeated admissions that she missed some of the testimony. But that’s not very different from when jurors fall asleep, which isn’t always such a big deal. Dissent: She missed testimony during both the guilt and penalty phases and we have no way of knowing what or how much. The man deserves a new sentencing hearing. Fourth Circuit (en banc): Affirmed by an evenly divided court.
- Wanting to get a jump on the impending multicircuit (in fact, omnicircuit) lottery for challenges to the new OSHA vaccine mandate, the Fifth Circuit issued a stay on its enforcement. It primarily relied on statutory arguments, but also thought the mandate might go beyond Congress’s enumerated powers. (Ed.: Hey, we love the spirit, but it’s kind of telling there was no citation to Gonzales v. Raich.) Two business days later the Sixth Circuit “wins” the lottery, meaning the matter is then out of the Fifth Circuit’s hands. But we’ll always have the memories (of the case b
Article from Latest – Reason.com