Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

by
The DC Circuit granted Davidson's petition for review of the Board's decision determining that Davidson committed unfair labor practices by refusing to bargain with a union in two Board-certified units. The court concluded that neither the Regional Director nor the Board distinguished contrary Board precedents or the Regional Director’s first decision in this case.The court explained that the previous unit decision by the same Regional Director was sufficiently analogous that it should have been distinguished or otherwise addressed – at least when the Regional Director and Board were presented with the argument that the first decision required rejection of the union's later petitions. However, the Regional Director never mentioned the prior decision beyond incorporating the record and stating that "the petitioned-for unit in the instant case is different[.]" Furthermore, the Board must explain why the balance of factors differed from the factors considered in the Regional Director's first decision, and the Board failed to cite – let alone distinguish – a single contrary precedent even though Davidson cited several Board precedents that rejected separate units of hotel employees under similar circumstances. View "Davidson Hotel Co., LLC v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
On April 22, 2019, the district court denied petitioner's first three claims for habeas relief, but reserved his 18 U.S.C. 924(c) claim for later resolution because, at the time, United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319, 2324 (2019), had not been decided. The district judge explained that his opinion resolves three of petitioner's claims but leaves the 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion open until the court is able to resolve petitioner's fourth claim. In order for petitioner to appeal the final order in a section 2255 habeas case, section 2253(c)(1) requires him to obtain a certificate of appealability. Petitioner moved for a certificate of appealability a week after the district court issued its order and the district judge granted the certificate solely on petitioner's recantation claim without commenting on the finality of the underlying order— which, of course, left one claim pending.The DC Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the district court's judgment was not final. The court rejected petitioner's claims under Gillespie v. United States Steel Corp., 379 U.S. 148 (1964), which he claims "opens the door a little bit" and allows ostensibly nonfinal orders to be regarded as "practically" final. The court also concluded that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33 do not facilitate jurisdiction here. View "United States v. Clark" on Justia Law

by
The union represents teachers and other professional employees at schools on U.S. military bases in Puerto Rico. In 2015, the federal agency and the union began negotiating a successor to an expired collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The union sought to continue workday provisions from the 2011 agreement. The agency sought to eliminate the dedicated hour for preparatory and professional tasks and to require teachers to be at school for that hour. The agency argued that these terms implicated its right to assign work (5 U.S.C. 7106(a)(2)(B) and were nonnegotiable. The Federal Service Impasses Panel factfinder concluded that the workday provisions were negotiable and recommended that the successor agreement maintain them; recommended terms to resolve other disputes, including new compensation terms; and recommended that the successor agreement incorporate all provisions on which the parties had already tentatively agreed. The Panel ordered the parties to adopt an entire CBA according to those recommendations.The Federal Labor Relations Authority held that the Panel lacked authority to impose the workday and agreed-to provisions. The Panel is authorized to resolve bargaining impasses but not to resolve antecedent legal questions about whether disputed provisions are negotiable. Those questions turn on the scope of the duty to bargain in good faith, which the Authority must determine. The D.C. Circuit affirmed those rulings but set aside a ruling that the workday provision imposed by the Panel infringed the agency’s statutory right to assign work. View "Antilles Consolidated Education Association v. Federal Labor Relations Authority" on Justia Law

by
National Butterfly Center, a 100-acre wildlife sanctuary and botanical garden owned by the nonprofit North American Butterfly Association, lies along the border with Mexico. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) planned to build a segment of the border wall through the Center. The Association sued, citing the Fourth and Fifth Amendments and two environmental statutes. DHS has not analyzed the environmental impact of border wall-related activities at the Center (42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C)), nor consulted with other federal agencies about how to minimize the impact of those activities on endangered species. An appropriation act subsequently prohibited funding for border fencing at the Center.The district court dismissed all claims, citing the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, 8 U.S.C. 1103, as stripping jurisdiction over the statutory claims because the DHS Secretary waived the application of environmental laws with respect to the construction of roads and physical barriers at the Center.The D.C. Circuit affirmed in part, first holding that the claims were not moot and that jurisdiction over the statutory claims was not stripped by IIRIRA, nor was review channeled directly to the Supreme Court. The court held that DHS’s waiver determination defeats the statutory claims, that the Association failed to state a Fourth Amendment claim of unreasonable seizure of property it acknowledges to be “open fields,” but that the Association stated a procedural due process claim under the Fifth Amendment. View "North American Butterfly Association v. Wolf" on Justia Law

by
Under the terms of a 2008 injunction, the Secretary must make various Federal Reserve Notes distinguishable to the visually impaired no later than the next scheduled redesign of each denomination. The Council challenged the district court's most recent denial of the Council's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) motion to impose a firm deadline on the Secretary.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the district court violated neither the letter nor spirit of the court's mandate in American Council of the Blind v. Mnuchin, 878 F.3d 360 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (ACB II). In this case, the district court's security rationale is a management consideration, not a budgetary one. The court explained that ACB II does not require the district court to quantify its security rationale in dollar-denominated terms. The district court's feasibility rationale also comports with ACB II's mandate. The court also held that the district court's rationales for denying the Council's Rule 60(b) motion are sufficiently supported by the record where the district court cited the Secretary's estimate that adding the RTF to the $10 note by the end of 2020 would likely push back the security redesign of each denomination by at least two years—possibly more. The district court's feasibility rationale is also well supported by the record. View "American Council of the Blind v. Mnuchin" on Justia Law

by
Intentional discrimination against the statutorily protected collective actions of employees remains discrimination even when it takes the form of scapegoating. Napleton petitioned for review of the Board's decision finding that Napleton's response to a union drive and a union strike constituted discrimination against the employees' rights to collective action under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).The DC Circuit held that the Board properly focused its analysis on the employer's discriminatory intent to punish its employees as a group for their known decision to unionize, rather than on the employer's knowledge of the targeted employees' individual views about the union. In this case, the Board's ruling that Napleton violated Sections 8(a)(3) and 8(a)(1) of the NLRA by terminating one employee and laying off another to punish its employees for their pro-union vote is reasoned, consistent with the statutory text and precedent, and supported by substantial evidence. The court denied the petition in all other respects and granted the Board's cross-application for enforcement. View "Napleton 1050, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
Title V of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) makes certain funds available to the recognized governing bodies of any "Indian Tribe" as that term is defined in the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA).The DC Circuit held that Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs), state-chartered corporations established by Congress to receive land and money provided to Alaska Natives in settlement of aboriginal land claims, do not qualify as Indian Tribes under the CARES Act and ISDA. Therefore, ANCs are not eligible for funding under Title V of the CARES Act.The court stated that an ANC cannot qualify as an "Indian tribe" under ISDA unless it has been "recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians;" because no ANC has been federally "recognized" as an Indian tribe, as the recognition clause requires, no ANC satisfies the ISDA definition; although ANCs cannot be recognized as Indian tribes under current regulations, it was highly unsettled in 1975, when ISDA was enacted, whether Native villages or Native corporations would ultimately be recognized; and the Alaska clause does meaningful work by extending ISDA's definition of Indian tribes to whatever Native entities ultimately were recognized—even though, as things later turned out, no ANCs were recognized. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the government and the intervenors, as well as the district court's denial of summary judgment to the plaintiff tribes. View "Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation v. Mnuchin" on Justia Law

by
The House filed suit alleging that the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, the Treasury, and the Interior, and the Secretaries of those departments violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when transferring funds appropriated for other uses to finance the construction of a physical barrier along the southern border of the United States, contravening congressionally approved appropriations. The district court held that the House lacked standing to challenge defendants' actions because it failed to allege a legally cognizable injury.The DC Circuit vacated the district court's judgment insofar as it dismisses the constitutional claims. In Comm. on Judiciary of U.S. House of Representatives v. McGahn, 968 F.3d 755 (D.C. Cir. 2020), the court clearly held that a single house of Congress could have standing to pursue litigation against the Executive for injury to its legislative rights. In this case, the allegations are that the Executive interfered with the prerogative of a single chamber to limit spending under the two-string theory discussed at the time of the founding era. Therefore, the court concluded that each chamber has a distinct individual right and one chamber has a distinct injury. Accordingly, that chamber has standing to bring this litigation. The court stated that expenditures made without the House's approval—or worse, as alleged here, in the face of its specific disapproval—cause a concrete and particularized constitutional injury that the House experiences, and can seek redress for, independently. The court further stated that failure to recognize that injury in fact would fundamentally alter the separation of powers by allowing the Executive Branch to spend any funds the Senate is on board with, even if the House withheld its authorizations.The court affirmed the district court's judgment insofar as it dismisses the APA claims where those allegations in no way set forth a legislative injury distinct to the House and affording it standing. The court previously explained that Congress does not have standing to litigate a claim that the President has exceeded his statutory authority. View "United States House of Representatives v. Mnuchin" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the EEOC, alleging that the agency had subjected her to a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and had violated her rights under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.The DC Circuit held that the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's retaliatory hostile work environment claim under Title VII, as well as her interference and reasonable accommodation claims under the Rehabilitation Act. The court stated that an employer's deliberate attempts to affect an employee's finances and access to healthcare strike the court as precisely the type of conduct that might have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the retaliatory hostile work environment claim under Title VII for events occurring in 2013 and remanded. The court also held that the district court erred by treating the Confirmation Form and Huffer Letter as definitive proof that the only accommodation plaintiff sought was an uncertain and indefinite amount of paid leave. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the reasonable accommodation claim and remanded. The court also reversed the dismissal of the interference claim and remanded for further consideration of plaintiff's interference allegations. Finally, the court held that the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's confidentiality and medical inquiries claims. View "Menoken v. Dhillon" on Justia Law

by
Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents, 18 U.S.C. 1001. In May 2020, before sentencing, the government moved to dismiss all charges with prejudice. Flynn consented to that motion and moved to withdraw his pending motions, including a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The district court appointed an amicus curiae to present arguments in opposition to the government’s motion and to address whether the court should issue an Order to Show Cause why Flynn should not be held in criminal contempt for perjury.Flynn filed an emergency mandamus petition. A panel of the D.C. Circuit issued the writ to compel the district court to immediately grant the government’s motion. On rehearing, en banc, the D.C. Circuit denied Flynn’s requests to compel the immediate grant of the government’s motion and to vacate the district court’s appointment of amicus. Flynn has not established that he has “no other adequate means to attain the relief he desires.” The court also declined to mandate that the case be reassigned to a different district judge; Flynn has not established a clear and indisputable right to reassignment. The court noted the interest in allowing the district court to decide a pending motion in the first instance; that Flynn is not in custody; and that “it is simply not the case that the Executive will be irreparably harmed by the procedures." View "In re: Flynn" on Justia Law