Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
ACLU, et al. v. Department of Justice
In ACLU I, the court held that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, required the Justice Department to disclose case names and docket numbers for prosecutions in which the government had obtained cell phone tracking data without a warrant and the defendant had ultimately been convicted. At issue in this appeal was whether the Department would also have to disclose docket information for similar prosecutions in which the defendant had been acquitted or had the charges dismissed. The court concluded that the Department properly withheld this information given the substantial privacy interest individuals have in controlling information concerning criminal charges for which they were not convicted. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Department. View "ACLU, et al. v. Department of Justice" on Justia Law
Monroe Energy, LLC v. EPA
Petitioners challenged the 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) issued under section 211(o) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7545(o). The court held that Monroe Energy had Article III standing to challenge the Final Rule. On the merits, the court concluded that, in the absence of any express or implied statutory directive to consider particular factors, EPA reasonably concluded that it enjoyed broad discretion regarding whether and in what circumstances to reduce the advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel volumes under the cellulosic biofuel waiver provision. The court rejected Monroe Energy's arguments regarding vacatur of the Final Rule because it was untimely issued. EPA's decision to preserve the 2013 fuel standards while extending the compliance deadline to June 30, 2014 was reasonable. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Monroe Energy, LLC v. EPA" on Justia Law
Thomas v. Holder, Jr., et al.
Appellant failed to respond to the court's order to show cause why he should not be compelled to pay a filing fee. The court dismissed the appeal for failure to prosecute. Appellant then moved for reconsideration. Appellant sought to compel the Attorney General to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule V, arguing primarily that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. 812, requires such action because of the drug's accepted medical uses. The court concluded, however, that the agency to which the Attorney General has delegated its CSA reclassification authority engaged in no abuse of discretion when it refused to reclassify marijuana as appropriate for medical use. Further, mandamus is not warranted in this case. Accordingly, the court denied the motion because the claims appellant raised in his appeal were without merit and the court saw no reason to reinstate his appeal. View "Thomas v. Holder, Jr., et al." on Justia Law
Ark Initiative, et al. v. Tidwell, et al.
After the Forest Service denied Ark's Emergency Petition seeking "roadless" designation for roughly 1,000 acres on Burnt Mountain and suspension of the Aspen Skiing Company's authorization to cut trees on that land, Ark filed suit against the Service in district court. The district court granted summary judgment to the Service and denied reconsideration. As a threshold matter, the court concluded that Ark had Article III standing to challenge the Service's final action denying the Emergency Petition. On the merits, the court concluded that the Service's denial of the Emergency Petition was not arbitrary or capricious or contrary to law, and Ark failed to show an abuse of discretion on reconsideration. View "Ark Initiative, et al. v. Tidwell, et al." on Justia Law
Schmidt v. United States
Appellant, a Marine Corps. veteran who was honorably discharged, sought review of the BCNR's denial of an increase in appellant's disability rating. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal where the only claim ever properly placed at issue before the district court was rendered moot by a stipulated remand to the BCNR. The court did not reach the other issues briefed on appeal. View "Schmidt v. United States" on Justia Law
Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA
Petitioners challenged the EPA's 2013 Rule regarding the emission standards for the cement industry and the EPA's decision to create an affirmative defense for private civil suits in which plaintiffs sue sources of pollution and seek penalties for violations of emission standards. The court concluded that the emissions-related provisions of the EPA's 2013 Rule were permissible but that the affirmative defense for private civil suits exceeded the EPA's statutory authority. Accordingly, the court granted the petitions in part and vacated the portion of the Rule pertaining to the affirmative defenses. The court denied the petitions in all other respects. View "Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA" on Justia Law
Teltschik v. Williams & Jensen, PLLC, et al.
The Federal Election Commission opened an investigation into alleged discrepancies in ARMPAC's financial reporting. ARMPAC conceded that it had violated federal election laws and agreed to pay a civil penalty and terminate operations. Appellant, former treasurer of ARMPAC, was named in the Conciliation Agreement in his official capacity as treasurer. Appellant then filed suit against the law firm that represented ARMPAC and three lawyers, alleging that defendants failed to keep him informed about the Commission's investigation of ARMPAC, signed documents on his behalf without permission, and defamed him in the Agreement. The district court dismissed or granted summary judgment to defendants on each of appellant's claims. The district court concluded that appellant's defamation claim based on the signing of the Agreement was barred by the judicial privilege. The district court also concluded that appellant's remaining negligence claim was barred under D.C. law. The court concluded that appellant's defamation claim was based on statements contained within the Agreement reached between the Commission and ARMPAC, and therefore was encompassed within the judicial privilege. The court also concluded that no D.C. case holds that a plaintiff may maintain a negligence action based on the allegedly defamatory communication. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Teltschik v. Williams & Jensen, PLLC, et al." on Justia Law
White Stallion Energy Center v. EPA
The EPA promulgated emission standards for a number of listed hazardous air pollutants emitted by coal- and oil-fired electric utility steam generating units. In this complex case, the court addressed the challenges to the EPA's Final Rule by State, Industry, and Labor petitioners, by Industry petitioners to specific aspects of the Final Rule, by Environmental petitioners, and by Julander Energy Company. The court held that the EPA's finding in the Final Rule was substantively and procedurally valid, and consequently any purported defects in the 2000 finding have been cured, rendering petitioners' challenge to the December 2000 "appropriate and necessary," finding moot; because the EPA's approach was based on a permissible construction of section 112(n)(1)(A) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7412(n)(1)(A), it was entitled to deference and must be upheld; the EPA reasonably concluded it need not consider costs in making its "appropriate and necessary" determination; the EPA did not err in considering environmental effects alongside health effects for purposes of the "appropriate and necessary" determination; the EPA did find, as petitioners contended that it was required to do, that electric utility steam generating units (EGUs) emissions alone would cause health hazards; the EPA reasonably concluded that the framework set forth in section 112(c) and 112(d) provided the appropriate mechanism for regulating EGUs under section 112 after the "appropriate and necessary" determination was made; and the EPA's conclusion that it may regulate all hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) emissions from EGUs must be upheld. The court also concluded that the EPA's "appropriate and necessary" determination in 2000, and its reaffirmation of that determination in 2012, were amply supported by EPA's findings regarding the health effects of mercury exposure; the EPA reasonably declined to interpret section 112 as mandating classification of EGUs as major sources and area sources; the EPA's data-collection process when calculating the maximum achievable control technology (MACT) floor for mercury emissions from existing coal-fired EGUs was reasonable, even if it may not have resulted in a perfect dataset; the court rejected UARG's petition to remove coal-fired EGUs from the list of sources regulated under section 112; the EPA did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in relying on the chromium emissions data to which petitioners objected; Industry petitioners' circulating fluidized bed EGUs-related arguments were unavailing; the court rejected Industry petitioners' arguments regarding lignite-fired EGUs; and the EPA's decision not to issue a blanket deadline extension was not arbitrary and capricious. Finally, the court rejected challenges by Environmental petitioners and Julander Energy Company. Accordingly, the court denied the petitions challenging the Final Rule. View "White Stallion Energy Center v. EPA" on Justia Law
Brooks v. Grundmann
Plaintiff, a Board employee, filed suit claiming that her supervisors engendered a hostile work environment, discriminating against her on the basis of her race and sex. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Board, concluding that, while the supervisors' actions may have been unprofessional, uncivil, and somewhat boorish, they did not constitute an adequate factual basis for the Title VII claims presented here. View "Brooks v. Grundmann" on Justia Law
Common Cause, et al. v. Biden, Jr., et al.
House members who voted for the DREAM and DISCLOSE bills, and others filed suit against the Vice President and others alleging that the effect of Rule XXII was to require sixty votes to get legislation through the Senate, that the rule prevented the passage of legislation that has the support of a majority of both houses of Congress, and that the rule therefore violated the Constitutional principle of majority rules. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The court concluded that plaintiffs' alleged injury was caused not by any of the defendants, but by an "absent third party" - the Senate itself. Accordingly, the court lacked jurisdiction to decide the case and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Common Cause, et al. v. Biden, Jr., et al." on Justia Law