Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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The DC Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal on mootness grounds plaintiff's action because the allegations in the complaint logically fell within a mootness exception for claims capable of repetition yet evading review. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the BOP had violated its own policies and procedures in three ways: (1) the BOP had failed to deliver his magazine subscriptions while he was confined in special housing units (SHUs); (2) the BOP had deprived him of outside exercise while he was confined in SHUs; and (3) the BOP deprived him of meaningful access to the administrative remedy procedures. In this case, the district court dismissed the pleadings on the basis that plaintiff's transfer from the SHU rendered inapplicable the capable of repetition, yet evading review exception as a matter of law. The court held, however, that there was no logical flaw in the theory of why the mootness exception could apply. Plaintiff adequately alleged that the challenged action was too fleeting to be fully litigated, and there was no logical deficiency in plaintiff's allegation that he reasonably expects to be subjected to the same challenged deprivations in the future. View "Reid v. Inch" on Justia Law

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Felons are not among the law-abiding, responsible citizens entitled to the protections of the Second Amendment. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action seeking to enjoin the enforcement of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1), which prohibits anyone convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year from owning firearms for life. The court held that, in this applied challenge, plaintiff failed to show facts about his conviction that distinguished him from other convicted felons encompassed by the section 922(g)(1) prohibition. In this case, plaintiff was convicted as a felon for falsifying his income on mortgage applications twenty-seven years ago. View "Medina v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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Representatives of the estates of black male farmers sought to submit claims of past discrimination in agricultural credit programs to a claims-processing framework set up to resolve Hispanic and female farmers' credit discrimination claims. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action, holding that representatives lacked standing to challenge the framework because they have no live underlying credit discrimination claims to present. In this case, representatives never submitted claims in the Black Farmers remedial process, but instead sought to present their claims in the parallel framework for claims of discrimination against women and/or Hispanic farmers. Therefore, the harm representatives asserted from being excluded was not redressable. Furthermore, representatives' claims were time barred and, even if the claims were not time barred, any credit discrimination claim a member of the Black Farmers plaintiff class may have had during the relevant period, whether or not actually pursued in the remedial process established under the Black Farmers' consent decree, was now precluded by that decree, or, for any member who opted out, time barred. View "Estate of Earnest Lee Boyland v. United States Department of Agriculture" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of claims related to conditions placed by the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on the liquor license of the Alibi restaurant. The court held that HRH properly invoked the curable defect exception to issue preclusion, and the district court erred by rejecting HRH's proposed second amended complaint that included allegations about the Board's enforcement action that would have cured the standing defect. On the merits, the court affirmed the dismissal of HRH's First Amendment retaliation claim because, even assuming the facts alleged in the complaint were true, the record showed that retaliation was not a plausible conclusion. The court also affirmed the dismissal of the commercial association claim based on the same reasoning as the retaliation claim; the dismissal of the right to travel claim in light of Hutchins v. District of Columbia, 188 F.3d 531, 537-38 (D.C. Cir. 1999); and procedural due process claim based on the failure to identify a cognizable liberty or property interest. View "Scahill v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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The Architect of the Capitol removed high school student David Pulphus’ painting from the exhibition of the 2016 winners of the Congressional Art Competition. The painting was initially described as “a colorful landscape of symbolic characters representing social injustice, the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, and the lingering elements of inequality in modern American society.” It was removed after protests by police unions and a FOX news personality, based on a newspaper story that described it as “depicting police officers as pigs with guns terrorizing a black neighborhood.” After unsuccessfully asking that the House Office Building Commission overrule the removal decision, Pulphus and Missouri Congressman Clay unsuccessfully sought a preliminary injunction, alleging violations of their First Amendment rights. The D.C. Circuit dismissed an appeal as moot; the 2016 Congressional Art Competition is over and no other concrete, redressable injury is alleged that was caused by the Architect’s removal decision. View "Pulphus v. Ayers" on Justia Law

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AFDI filed suit against WMATA and its then-general manager, alleging that WMATA's refusal to display its advertisements violated its rights to free speech and equal protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The district court granted summary judgment to WMATA. Determining that the case was justiciable, the DC Circuit held that WMATA's advertising space was a nonpublic forum and that its restrictions were viewpoint-neutral. In this case, the court rejected AFDI's as-applied challenge, AFDI's claim that the ban on issue-oriented advertising was facially unconstitutional; and AFDI's claim that Guideline 12 was an unconstitutional prohibition of religious and antireligious views. The court remanded to the district court to determine whether the restrictions were reasonable in light of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, 138 S. Ct. 1876 (2018). Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action brought by plaintiff, a former Deputy Counsel, alleging that her termination was the product of discrimination based on her age and sex, in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA). Plaintiff also alleged that Amtrak later retaliated against her for filing her EEO complaint, and that two of its employees aided and abetted those violations. The court held that plaintiff failed to point to record evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer either age or sex discrimination, and the sanction she sought was unwarranted. In this case, it was the Inspector General's prerogative to choose a General Counsel and Deputy Counsel with whom he felt he and his team could communicate clearly and efficiently, and in whom they could repose their trust and confidence; plaintiff's "primary clients" at the OIG all testified they had reservations about whether she was the best person to serve OIG; and they unanimously expressed concern that she was more likely to resist their objectives than to aid them. View "Ranowsky v. National Railroad Passenger Corp." on Justia Law

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Two Panamanian men designated as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers by the OFAC, filed suit claiming that they had insufficient post-deprivation notice of the bases of their designation in violation of their due process rights. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the government, holding that plaintiffs failed to make out a viable claim under the relevant due process framework. The court explained that the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act’s asset-freezing provision unquestionably raised many due process concerns. However, in this case, without questioning the government's assertion that disclosing any more of the underlying evidence or the sources of that evidence would have calamitous consequences, plaintiffs asked the court to direct the agency to turn over the evidence itself, or to identify its sources, compromising the very sensitivity they leave unchallenged. Such an argument was forecosed by precedent. The court noted that other avenues remain for plaintiffs should they elect to use them to challenge their designation in the future. View "Fares v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Department of Defense in an action brought by plaintiff, a former instructor, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act against the National Defense University's College of International Security Affairs. The court held that the Department failed to provide a consistent and sufficient explanation for plaintiff's discharge, and plaintiff provided evidence that a supervisor directly involved in the decisionmaking process made repeated discriminatory remarks. In this case, a reasonable jury could credit plaintiff's version of events given, inter alia, the evidence that he used to support his prima facie case, the gaps and variations in the College's proffered explanation for the firing, his ultimate replacement by a younger employee, the hiring of several other younger faculty members within the same year as his budgetary termination, and the comments overtly hostile to older employees made by his front-line supervisor who was directly involved in discussions about his termination. View "Steele v. Mattis" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas corpus relief to Moath Hamza Ahmed Al-Alwi, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. Al-Alwi was captured in December 2001 for his Taliban-related activities and has remained in United States custody ever since. The court rejected Al-Alwi's argument that the United States' authority to detain him has "unraveled" where, although hostilities have been ongoing for a considerable amount of time, they have not ended. The court held, in the alternative, that the government's authority to detain Al-Alwi pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has not expired. Finally, the court did not reach the merits of Al-Alwi's remaining arguments because he has forfeited them. View "Al-Alwi v. Trump" on Justia Law