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.
Friends, Season 2 of Bound By Oath, “No Right Without a Remedy,” commenced this very week. It is a very excellent podcast. We know because we made it.
- Martin Van Buren, an employee of D.C.’s Metro transit system, grows angry after a fellow employee helps a customer operate a fare card machine in Arlington, Va.—and thus beats his colleague so badly he required hospitalization. Yes, you read that right. D.C. Circuit: The injured employee must look to Virginia’s workers compensation law for a remedy.
- Fifteen-year-old gang member participates in the execution-style killing of four teenage members of a rival gang. The district court, departing downwards from federal sentencing guidelines, sentences the juvenile to 55 years in prison with no possibility of parole. Second Circuit: We assume, without deciding, that the lengthy sentence here (which technically falls short of a life sentence) requires consideration of the factors the Supreme Court has identified as relevant when sentencing juveniles to life without parole. We also note that allowing eligibility for parole would encourage rehabilitation and facilitate prison discipline. Still, given the brutality of the offense, the sentence is affirmed.
- The Oneida Indian Nation once occupied over 6 million acres of land in an area that would later become New York State. The U.S. recognized 300k acres of that land as a reservation in the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. A series of treaties further selling and dividing the land followed, leading to an ownership dispute over a nearly 20-acre parcel between the Nation and a member of the Nation who has attempted to create a separate tribe on several occasions. The Second Circuit rules for the Nation, featuring a debate between the majority and concurrence over whether tribal sovereign immunity affects a federal court’s jurisdiction.
- After being denied Social Security disability benefits, two
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