Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment stating that their family members were killed in the course of a U.S. drone attack in violation of international law governing the use of force, the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), and the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The district court dismissed the claims primarily based on political question grounds. The DC Circuit affirmed and held that it was not the role of the Judiciary to second-guess the determination of the Executive, in coordination with the Legislature, that the interests of the U.S. called for a particular military action in the ongoing War on Terror. In this case, El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Co. v. United States, 607 F.3d 836 (D.C. Cir. 2010), controlled the court's analysis and compelled dismissal of plaintiffs' claims. View "Bin Ali Jaber v. United States" on Justia Law

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Appellant appealed the district court's dismissal of his habeas petition as time-barred, seeking a certificate of appealability (COA) from the DC Circuit. Because the petition was plainly time-barred and no jurist of reason could take issue with the procedural ruling by the district court, the court denied his request for a COA without having to reach his constitutional claim. View "Blount v. United States" on Justia Law

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After her move to Treasury was blocked and her contract work with Fannie Mae was terminated, plaintiff filed suit alleging claims under District of Columbia law and, in the alternative, under Bivens. The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Bivens claim because the conservatorship over Fannie Mae did not create the type of permanent government control that is required under Lebron v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., 513 U.S. 374; affirmed summary judgment on her wrongful termination claim and rejected her request to recognize a public policy exception to the at-will doctrine based on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008; affirmed summary judgment on her tortious interference with prospective contractual relations claim because she failed to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact as to any valid business expectancy; affirmed summary judgment on the conspiracy claim because she failed to establish a cognizable underlying tort; and rejected her two discovery challenges. View "Herron v. Fannie Mae" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the parents of six children, filed suit against the District, alleging that it was violating the "Child Find" requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by failing to provide special education to their children and hundreds of other preschoolers with disabilities. The district court certified the suit as a class action and entered a comprehensive injunction designed to bring the District into compliance with the IDEA. The DC Circuit held that the case was not moot where it remains justiciable under United States Parole Commission v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388 (1980), and where the relation back doctrine applied in this case. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by certifying subclasses pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2). Finally, the court rejected the District's challenges to the injunction, affirming the district court in all respects. View "DL v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the government based on claimants' lack of Article III standing in a civil forfeiture case. The court held that claimants met their burden of making an assertion of ownership and provided some evidence of ownership to establish standing. The court explained that credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts were jury functions and not those of a judge. In this case, the record was devoid of contradictory evidence, claimants consistently maintained that the money was theirs, nothing in their account was physically impossible, and the couple explained how they came to own the money in considerable detail. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "United States v. $17,900.00" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit contending that USAID and NOAA violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., by terminating his employment because of his national origin. He also contended that NOAA violated 18 U.S.C. 1001, which criminalizes false statements to the government, by lying about why he was terminated. The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's claim under section 1001 because the statute did not create a private right of action. The court determined that plaintiff's remaining contentions lacked merit and affirmed, with one modification of the order of dismissal. View "Lee v. USAID" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, the former chair of the United States Parole Commission, alleging that plaintiff's denials of parole were infected by unconstitutional decisionmaking. The district court dismissed the case sua sponte, concluding that parole commissioners were entitled to absolute immunity from such lawsuits. The DC Circuit affirmed on the ground that defendant was entitled to qualified immunity. The court explained that, even under the most generous reading of the complaint, defendant was entitled to qualified immunity as to each of the five claims alleged against him. View "Redmond v. Fulwood, Jr." on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit held that the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's claims against DHS for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. Although plaintiff initiated this administrative exhaustion process for his claims of race discrimination and retaliation when his supervisors denied him leave in 2002, he did not file a formal complaint with DHS's EEO office until 2010. The court explained that such a lengthy and unexplained delay in filing his formal complaint with DHS did not evidence the diligent pursuit of Title VII rights that was required for equitable tolling. Therefore, the district court properly dismissed the complaint. View "Niskey v. Kelly" on Justia Law

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Appellant challenged two district court orders directing him to produce various documents in response to a subpoena issued by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. While the appeal was pending, appellant turned over some of the documents and the Subcommittee completed its investigation, issuing a final report. The DC Circuit held that the case was moot because the relief appellant seeks is barred by the separation of powers. The court explained that the separation of powers, including the Speech or Debate Clause, barred the court from ordering a congressional committee to return, destroy, or refrain from publishing the subpoenaed documents. Furthermore, there was no reasonable expectation that the Subcommittee, having completed its work and issued its final report, will nonetheless reopen its investigation and again issue a subpoena to appellant. Accordingly, the DC Circuit vacated the district court's judgments and dismissed the case as moot. View "Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations v. Ferrer" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit reversed the denial of summary judgment to BNA and remanded with directions that the district court grant summary judgment to BNA on plaintiff's defamation claims. Plaintiff was convicted of murdering two U.S. Marshalls, and BNA subsequently summarized plaintiff's mandamus petition in one of its publications. Plaintiff filed suit against BNA for falsely reporting that the sentencing judge had said that plaintiff lacked contrition and believed the murders were justified. The DC Circuit held that the inaccuracy of the report alone does not constitute sufficient evidence of actual malice for plaintiff to overcome summary judgment, and the remaining evidence in the record does not suffice for plaintiff to overcome summary judgment. View "Kahl v. Bureau of National Affairs" on Justia Law