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Covering one decision from Circuits 6 through 11, this article is Part 2 of a collection of court cases that you should know about. Court activism throughout the country affects you and your rights so take a glance at the cases below to see the precedents being established that are threatening your civil liberties.
6th Circuit: Maxwell’s Pic-Pac, Inc. v. Dehner
The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control passed a law that prohibits grocers from applying for a liquor license if 10% or more of their monthly sales come from groceries or gasoline. A group of grocers filed suit against the department claiming that the law violated their equal protection rights, separation of powers principle, and due process rights. The 6th Circuit ruled in favor of the law by applying the Rational Basis Test. According to the rational basis test, as long as the government is using rational means to pursue a legitimate end, the legislation passes the test. In this particular case, the Sixth Circuit reasoned that the government's legitimate end was to reduce access to alcohol. Read the full decision here.
7th Circuit: United States v. Norman Breedlove
After pleading guilty to drug trafficking, Breedlove filed for appeal claiming that he didn’t have effective counsel because his attorney conspired against him. When he was assigned new counsel, the new attorney recommended that Breedlove be psychologically tested, resulting in him being diagnosed with schizophrenia and admitted to a federal medical facility. There, the staff began involuntarily medicating him, resulting in Breedlove challenging this infringement of his rights. The 7th Circuit Court ruled in favor of the United States, deeming that this situation warranted involuntary medication because “important governmental interests are at stake; involuntary medication would significantly further those interests; no viable alternative exists; and administering the drugs is in the patient’s best medical interest.” Read the full decision here.
8th Circuit: Bechman v. Magill, et al.
Chelsea Bechman was arrested by police based on an invalid, recalled arrest warrant that had been issued for her failure to appear in court to contest a traffic violation. She was detained over night, strip searched, and had to go through a body cavity search. She was completely innocent , as stated, the warrant for her arrest was invalid. The 8th Circuit Court ruled in favor of Bechman, denying the police officers immunity for their actions on the grounds that any reasonable officer would recognize the lawlessness of these actions. Read the full decision here.
9th Circuit: Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District, et al.
On Cinco de Mayo, 2 students received threats for wearing clothes that had an American flag on them. As a result, the school demanded that the students remove the clothing and change into something else. The students refused, stating that mandating the removal of their American theme clothes violated their freedom of expression, due process, and equal protection rights. The 9th Circuit Court ruled in favor of the school on the basis that in the circumstances presented, the removal of the American flag clothes was warranted and no civil rights were violated. Read the full decision here.
10th Circuit: Republican Party of New Mexico, et al. v. King, et al.
New Mexico passed a campaign finance law that regulated the amount of money an individual could donate to a political committee. Potential donors, political parties, and political committees challenged the law’s constitutionality in relation to the “Citizens United” decision of 2010, claiming that the law violates the 1st Amendment. The defendants of the case argue that the limitations are necessary because they fight corruption. The 10th Circuit ruled in favor of the Republican Party, upholding the lower court’s decision that law is unconstitutional. As a result, the law is now void. Read the full decision here.
11th Circuit: Kentner, et al. v. City of Sanibel
The Kentners were blocked from building a boat dock on their lake front because their purpose was to protect the sea grasses, which goes against a state ordinance. The Kentners challenged the ordinance, arguing that it served no legitimate state interest and thus violates citizens’ due process rights as well as a party’s riparian rights, which allow an individual to use the water along their private property. The 11th Circuit Court ruled against the Kentner, upholding the state ordinance. The Court decided that riparian rights are based on state laws and aren’t fundamental rights so therefore can’t be violated under a due process claim. Simply stated, the Court ruled that the Kentners don’t have private property rights. Read the full decision here.
This article is Part 2 of an update on court decisions that you should know about. Read Part 1 here.