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U.S.-flagged ships on the high seas do not fall within the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's (FSIA), 26 U.S.C. 1605, non-commercial torts exception. Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Israeli Defense Forces attacked the vessel they were on and detained them in violation of international law. The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint based on Israel's immunity from suit, finding that neither the "non-commercial torts" nor "terrorism" exceptions of the FSIA allowed jurisdiction. The court rejected plaintiffs' contention that Congress' amendment of the FSIA exception eliminated the requirement that a state be designated a sponsor of terrorism for the exception to apply. View "Schermerhorn v. State of Israel" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to National Archives in an action filed by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552 et seq., seeking disclosure of all versions of indictments against Hillary Rodham Clinton arising out of the Independent Counsel's investigation begun in 1994. The court held that Judicial Watch failed to demonstrate exceptional interests warranting disclosure of a draft indictment that implicated serious privacy concerns. Nor did Judicial Watch show that a segregability analysis was not conducted. View "Judicial Watch, Inc. v. NARA" on Justia Law

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SPP, a regional transmission organization (RTO), filed with FERC revisions to its tariff that reflected an agreement with Integrated System entities to integrate their facilities. Pursuant to the requirements of section 205 of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 824d, SPP filed with FERC revisions to its tariff that reflected the parties' agreement. FERC approved the revisions over the objections of Kansas. The DC Circuit denied Kansas' petition for review, holding that FERC accurately described the agreement as reciprocal; Kansas misread various precedents and the court rejected its contention that the arrangement violated critical norms of ratemaking; the court saw no basis for a claim of undue discrimination; and the court rejected Kansas' arguments regarding SPP's reliance on a study commissioned by the IS Parties. Finally, FERC did not abuse its discretion by deciding not to hold an evidentiary hearing on the disputed features of the record underlying its approval of the merger. View "State Corp. Commission of KS v. FERC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the Federal Election Campaign Act's (FECA), 52 U.S.C. 30116(a)(1)(A), base limits on individual contributions to candidates. The DC Circuit rejected plaintiffs' challenge to Congress's decision to fashion FECA's base contribution limits for individuals as per-election ceilings. The court explained that the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), rejected a constitutional challenge to those ceilings, and that holding remains undisturbed. The Supreme Court reasoned that, as long as a contribution limit is not so low as to prevent candidates from mounting effective campaigns, the judiciary would generally defer to Congress's determination of the limit’s precise amount. The court concluded that the same was true of Congress's intertwined choice of the timeframe in which that amount may be contributed. View "Holmes v. FEC" on Justia Law

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A case in which a district court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a prisoner's state-law claims does not count as a strike under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. 1915(g). The PLRA does not require or allow a later district court to simply defer to an earlier district court's contemporaneous statement that a dismissal counts as a strike. The later district court must independently evaluate whether the prior dismissals were dismissed on one of the enumerated grounds and therefore count as strikes. In this case, the DC Circuit held that plaintiff had only one strike and thus he was entitled to in forma pauperis status and may maintain his lawsuit. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's denial of his in forma pauperis status and dismissal of his case. View "Fourstar v. Garden City Group, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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AOPL petitioned for review of FERC's issuance of an order adopting the index formula to govern oil pipeline rates for the 2016 to 2021 period. The DC Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that there was no merit to AOPL's claim that FERC impermissibly relied solely on the middle 50 percent of pipeline cost-change data and failed to incorporate the middle 80 percent of cost-change data, and that FERC impermissibly used "Page 700" cost-of-service data to calculate the index level. The court held that the record makes it plain that the Commission adequately and reasonably explained its decision not to consider the middle 80 percent of pipelines' cost-change data; nothing in any of FERC's past index review orders bound the agency to use the middle 80 percent of pipelines' cost-change data; the Commission's rationale for utilizing the cost-of-service data from Page 700 was clear and reasonable; and there was nothing in the record to support AOPL's claim that FERC's decision to use Page 700 data indicates an unexplained shift in its measurement objective. View "Association of Oil Pipe Lines v. FERC" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit vacated defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to distribution of more than 28 grams of cocaine. In this case, the government breached its plea agreement with defendant to not use any incriminating statements he provided during a confidential debriefing session against him. The prosecutor relayed to the trial court information derived from the debriefing session and the government acknowledged that the transmittal of this information breached the agreement. The court held that there was at least a reasonable likelihood that defendant would have received a lower sentence in a proceeding untainted by the government's violation. The court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. King-Gore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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This appeal involved the Company's effort to have declared invalid a Crossing Agreement entered into in 2012 by Michigan State officials and the Government of Canada to build another bridge spanning the Detroit River, within two miles of the Ambassador Bridge. The DC Circuit held that the district court properly granted summary judgment as to Count 7, which alleged that the Secretary failed to inquire adequately into Michigan law and, to the extent an inquiry was made, the Secretary's action was arbitrary and capricious. The court reasoned that neither the plain text of Section 3 nor other provisions of the International Bridge Act (IBA), 33 U.S.C. 535 et seq., require the Secretary to inquire into state law. Therefore, the Secretary did not clearly err in approving the Crossing Agreement and the court affirmed summary judgment. The court also held that the district court properly dismissed Counts 2 and 3, which alleged that approval of the Crossing Agreement was unlawful because it contradicted federal laws; Count 1, which alleged a non-delegation claim; and Count 6, which alleged that the issuance of a Presidential Permit by the Secretary of State was final agency action, regardless of whether this authority was delegated by the President, and thus it was reviewable. View "Detroit International Bridge Co. v. Government of Canada" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment interpreting the preclusion-of-review provision in Section 1877 of the Social Security Act (the Stark Law), 42 U.S.C. 1395nn(a)(1)–(2), to deprive it of subject matter jurisdiction. The court held that "the process under this paragraph" encompasses all of section 1395nn(i)(3), including the granting or denial of expansion applications. Therefore, section 1395nn(i)(3)(I) precludes judicial review of plaintiff's claims. View "Knapp Medical Center v. Hargan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the FCC's order denying Press's application for review of the FCC Media Bureau's decision. The court held that FCC regulations, decisions, and practice support the Commission's contention that applications for minor modifications are subject to the spacing requirements articulated in 47 C.F.R. 73.207. Any nonconforming application requires a waiver of that rule, and Press failed to justify such waiver. Therefore, the FCC's Order was valid based on the failure of Press's proposed channel swap with Equity to comply with the applicable short spacing bar or establish its entitlement to a waiver of that bar. Because the short spacing defect was independently sufficient to support the order, the court did not reach Press's alternative argument. View "Press Communications LLC v. FCC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law