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.
Over at The Washington Post (paywall), IJ’s first-ever client, African-style hair braider Pamela Ferrell, is profiled at length about a different chapter in her life. “I never want to feel what that officer — whose face was so full of hate — felt. Then [hatred] gets your soul. I won’t give it that.”
New on the Short Circuit podcast: Special guest Molly Brady of Harvard Law tells an untold story of how NIMBYs tried to turn neighbors into nuisances, and when they failed turned to zoning instead.
- The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 requires all “vessel[s] arriving in the United States” to maintain (and publicly disclose) a manifest recording information about the just-completed voyage and the cargo. Data-aggregating companies file FOIA suit against the federal government, contending that the Act gives them a right to access airplane manifests too. Second Circuit: The statute is a mess (“an amalgamation of language from incompatible statutes”), but it applies to waterborne vessels only, not aircraft. No word on whether it applies to seaplanes. Or airships.
- Two Pittsburgh brothers are stopped on the street by a police lieutenant who suspects (incorrectly) that they are carrying synthetic marijuana. Five other police officers soon join the lieutenant. Finger-pointing altercation ensues, and the police slam one brother into a wall and tase the other. Third Circuit (over dissent): No qualified immunity for the body-slamming officer, though the lieutenant is off the hook for failing to prevent the body slam.
- United States Park Police officer stops truck driver on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, where commercial vehicles require permits. He smells marijuana, finds marijuana, and arrests the driver. Fourth Circuit: Yet he had no lawful reason to stop the driver. Merely suspecting that he might not have had a permit is not grounds for a traffic stop. Suppress the evidence.
- After federal agents seize a man’s truck, he waits over two years for a hearing before a judge. Does due process require a more prompt post-seizure hearing? Fifth Circuit: The Constitution requires no such hearing; and the Second Circuit’s contrary holding (in an opinion written by then-Judge Sotomayor) should be limited to the specific statute at issue in that case. (This is an IJ case. We will be filing a cert petition.)
- After unruly, possibly armed man declines to raise his hands with sufficient alacrity, Fort Worth, Tex. officer employs a “distractionary strike” to gain compliance, allegedly breaking the man’s nose. Fifth Circuit: A reasonable jury might review the bodycam footage and think that was excessive force.
- Dearborn, Mich. officer: I shot the man because he was standing over me, trying to get my gun, and I realized the gun was loose in its holster. The man’s estate: That makes no sense. There was nothing wrong with the safety
Article from Latest – Reason.com