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Judicial Reform DC Circuit Court

DC Circuit Court

Leans Pro Government
Total Judgeships: 

11 (0 vacancies)

Political Makeup: 

7 Dem – 4 GOP

Location(s): 
Washington, DC
Jurisdictions: 
Washington, DC
Caseload: 

1,092

About The Court:

The D.C. Circuit Court was established on February 9, 1893 and is the smallest of the Circuit Courts. However, it is arguably the most important due to its common handling of cases related to the powers of federal agencies. As a result, the D.C. Circuit judges have significant power in affecting national policy. Additionally, a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court is considered a stepping stone to a nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court.

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decided

Excessive EPA Regulation Deemed Constitutional

Thu, 07/10/2014

National Mining Association, et al. v. Jackson, et al.: West Virginia, Kentucky, coal mining companies, and trade associations challenged the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ Enhanced Coordination Process memorandum, which was adopted to facilitate their consideration of Clean Water Act permits. They also challenged the EPA’s Final Guidance document, which recommends more stringent conditions for issuing permits. The District Court ruled against the EPA and the Corps, granting summary judgment for the plaintiffs.

Decision

The D.C. Circuit Court reversed, concluding that the EPA and the Corps acted within their statutory authority. The Court remanded with directions to grant judgment for the government on the Enhanced Coordination Process claim and to dismiss the challenge to the Final Guidance.

Read the full decision here
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FOIA Becomes Ever Broader

Tue, 06/17/2014

All Party Parliamentary Group, et al. v. Dept. of Defense et al.: An American lawyer partnered with and chose to represent a member of the British House of Commons in an attempt to file for a release of CIA documents through the use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The District Court dismissed their suit stating that the requesters were “representatives” of the British government and not “agents” so therefore they did not qualify as a foreign entity that can access information under the FOIA.

Decision

The DC Circuit Court determined that the contrast between the words “representative” and “agent” was minimal since the two are not clearly defined in the FOIA. As a result, the DC Court reversed and remanded the decision, sending it back down to the District Court for re-evaluation.

Read the full decision here
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Who's Responsible for that Post?

Fri, 06/13/2014

Klayman v. Zuckerberg: Kalyman came across a group page, Third Palestinian Intifada, on Facebook that called for an uprising and the killing of Jewish people. He requested Facebook to remove the page, which they did after “many days.” Kalyman filed suit against stating that the site breached a duty of care to its members by taking so long to remove the page that outwardly threatened a number of its consumers, specifically all Jewish users. The District Court dismissed the suit declaring that Facebook is protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

Decision

The DC Circuit Court upheld the decision of the District Court on the basis that Facebook is an interactive computer service and therefore is not responsible for the information that a third party user, such as the Intifada group, uploads, publishes, or shares.

Read the full decision here
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Checking Federal Takeover of Electricity

Fri, 05/23/2014

Electric Power Supply Assoc. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC): FERC introduced a new rule, Order 745, that calls for “demand response resources in the wholesale energy market” which incentivizes retail customers to decrease their electricity consumption, thereby intervening in the free market-based retail economy. The FERC rule came under scrutiny because it directly regulates the retail market, an overstep of a federal agency into a state controlled matter.

Decision

The D.C. Circuit Court determined that Order 745 is an overreach of federal power in a state regulated market. As a result, the court declared the rule void in its entirety and remanded the rulings, sending the case back to trial court for re-assessment.

Read the full decision here
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Legislature's Documents Kept Under Wraps

Fri, 05/23/2014

Cause of Action v. NARA: Cause of Action submitted a request for the release of Commission records from the National Archives under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Archives denied the request stating that the FOIA does not apply to documents originating from the legislative branch and that Commission records are not considered agency records, and therefore not accessible through use of the FOIA.

Decision

The D.C. Circuit Court upheld the decision, affirming that the Archives have a right to withhold the documents. The court maintained that Congress did not intend the FOIA to apply to legislative documents, even those filed with the National Archives.

Read the full decision here
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"Untimely" Constitutional Case Dismissed

Tue, 05/13/2014

Coal River Energy, LLC v. Jewell, et.al.: When coal is mined, mine operators are required to pay a reclamation fee once it is sold or used, rather than immediately upon its excavation. A mine operator declared this to be unconstitutional because it becomes a tax when applied to coal exports. The Export Clause of the Constitution states, "No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any state." The District Court denied the challenge raised by the miner because of a time period related excuse.

Decision

The D.C. Circuit Court upheld the decision, affirming that the appellant’s challenge was outside of the sixty day time period and therefore untimely.

Read the full decision here
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Cell Phone Evidence Deemed Innaccessible

Fri, 05/09/2014

ACLU, et al. v. Department of Justice: The ACLU, through use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), requested that the Justice Department disclose the names and docket numbers of cases in which the discriminating evidence had been collected through use of cell phone tracking data without a warrant. The District Court ruled that the Department of Justice does not have to release the information.

Decision

The D.C. Circuit Court upheld the decision and affirmed that the DOJ has a right to withhold the information requested. Given the substantial amount of information that could be released to the public if the docket numbers and case names were released, the court believes that the privacy interests of individuals is best protected if the information is not accessible through the FOIA.

Read the full decision here
decided

More Research Incentivized

Thu, 03/27/2014

Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. EPA, et al: In 2012 the EPA sought to create a new, secondary national ambient air quality standard for nitrogen and sulfur oxides. The agency did not meet its deadline for issuing its new standard after determining that additional studies needed to be done. Petitioners claimed that missing this deadline violated the Clean Air Act.

Decision

The D.C. Circuit Court, denied the petition for this case to be reviewed, therefore upholding the decision that the EPA’s actions did not violate the Clean Air Act. The Act requires reasoned judgment in establishing environmental standards and therefore allowing the EPA to perform more studies is in accordance with its purpose, not opposed to it. This decision positively creates the precedent for federal agencies to perform more research and not be forced into meeting deadlines without doing the necessary preliminary work.

Read the full decision here

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