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.
In 2018, the town of Gibraltar, Wisc., banned food trucks after a family started vending on their own property outside their store. After IJ challenged that ban, the town replaced it with a new ordinance prohibiting food trucks from areas where brick-and-mortar restaurants operate. Unconstitutional economic protectionism? This week we got our answer: “I can reach no other conclusion than these ordinances look, swim, and quack like efforts to unfairly discriminate against mobile food establishments in favor of brick-and-mortar restaurants in downtown Fish Creek in the Town of Gibraltar.” Click here to learn more.
- Congress has the inherent power to issue subpoenas, but, says two-thirds of this D.C. Circuit panel, it has failed to pass a law giving it the power to have courts enforce those subpoenas, meaning the House of Representatives cannot sue to enforce its subpoena of former White House Counsel Don McGahn.
- The District Attorney of Middlesex County, Mass., may have lost her challenge to the federal government’s practice of arresting noncitizens in state courthouses. But she has joined the surprisingly lengthy roster of litigants whom First Circuit Judge Selya has compared to or contrasted with Rumpelstiltskin. So there’s that.
- Members of New York’s 10th Street Gang, seeking revenge on rival 7th Street Gang, gather guns and go looking for trouble. Shooting breaks out and two innocent bystanders are killed. A member of the gang—convicted of aiding and abetting the murders by lending a .44 caliber handgun to another member—challenges the sufficiency of the evidence against him. Second Circuit: And he wins. It’s undisputed that the .44 malfunctioned and didn’t fire. No actus reus, no crime.
- Syrian man is involuntarily conscripted into the militia, where he undergoes basic training, performs guard duty, and does errands for superior officers. He flees to the United States, where he seeks asylum on the ground that he will be tortured if returned to Syria. Feds: We consider the government militia you were forced to join to be a terrorist organization, and we don’t grant asylum to terrorists. Third Circuit: That’s right. (Fortunately, he received a more restrictive “deferral of removal” under the Convention Against Torture.)
- Does New Jersey’s ban on large capacity magazines violate the Second Amendment? Third Circuit: We already decided that it does not when we denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, so we’re bound by the law of the case and cannot reconsider. Dissent: Prudential doctrines shouldn’t trump constitutional rights.
- Third Circuit: Pennsylvania man, who is African American, provides a ride home to a woman who states she is afraid of her drunk, abusive boyfriend. And with good reason. Upon arrival, the boyfriend hurls racial epithets, brandishes a knife, threatens to “chop up” the girlfriend, and jumps on the hood of the moving car. The terrified driver calls 911, who instruct him to convey his interior/exterior passengers to a police checkpoint. Naturally, the driver is arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, despite passing a breathalyzer test, and is charged with multiple…y’know what, just grab a stiff drink and read the case.
- Does keeping a death-row inmate in solitary confinement for 33 years violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment? Third Circuit: Going forward? Yes. But qualified immunity in this case.
- Third Circuit: Porno Producers Partially Prevail in Push to Prevent Paperwork Penalties
- Here’s one for the procedure nerds: Partnership sues several pharmaceutical companies as a qui tam relator under the False Claims Act. When one of the partners leaves, that change amounts to the creation of a new partnership. Is the lawsuit now barred by the Act’s first-to-file bar, which prevents a new person from intervening or bringing a related action? Third Circuit: Clever, but no.
- Salvadoran man seeks asylum, alleging that if he is sent back to El Salvador, he will be killed by MS-13 because his sister refused to date a local gang leader. Fourth Circuit: “Like offensive linemen on a football team, standards of review are not glamorous or exciting. But that does not mean they are unimportant.” And under the “substantial evidence” standard, this guy is hosed. Dissent: With their “nonsens
Article from Latest – Reason.com