Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against various federal officials in their official capacities, in an action alleging Fourth and Fifth Amendment claims, as well as claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Plaintiff contends that ever since he refused to be an informant for the FBI a decade ago, he has been placed on a watchlist, leading to "extreme burdens and hardship while traveling."The court concluded that plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claims fail to plausibly allege that his injury is fairly traceable to defendants. In this case, plaintiff bases his Fourth Amendment claims on TSA and CBP agents' searching him and seizing his electronics. However, instead of suing these agents directly, plaintiff brought his Fourth Amendment claims against the heads of DHS, TSA, and CBP. The court concluded that it cannot reasonably infer that the heads of DHS, TSA, or CBP will immediately cause or ever have caused this kind of Fourth Amendment violation. The court also concluded that plaintiff's Fifth Amendment claim fails because he failed to allege some kind of deprivation of his due process rights. The court explained that plaintiff has no right to hassle-free travel. Furthermore, plaintiff's allegation that defendants have deprived him of his right to freely practice his chosen profession and of his liberty interest in his reputation also fail. Likewise, plaintiff failed to plausibly plead his APA claims.Finally, in regard to plaintiff's contention that the Attorney General, FBI Director, and TSC Director acted arbitrarily and capriciously by placing him on the Selectee List, the court concluded that these allegations do not permit a reasonable inference that these defendants violated typical review processes to retaliate against plaintiff. View "Ghedi v. Mayorkas" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissing Appellant's appeal from a decision of an immigration judge (IJ) ordering him removed from the United States, holding that the BIA failed to address Appellant's request to apply equitable tolling in assessing whether her appeal was timely.Appellant, a native and citizen of Jamaica, applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. The IJ denied Appellant's requests for relief and ordered her removed to Jamaica. In the midst of the newly-announced health emergency occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, Appellant missed the deadline to appeal the IJ's removal order. The BIA summarily dismissed Appellant's appeal as untimely. The First Circuit vacated the BIA's order of dismissal, holding that the BIA erred by failing to consider Appellant's request for equitable tolling in deciding whether her appeal was timely. View "James v. Garland" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiffs' administrative appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction from the adverse decision of the State Elections Enforcement Commission determining that Plaintiffs violated certain state election laws and regulations, holding that the administrative appeal was timely filed.In its decision, the Commission found that Plaintiffs, who had received funding for their campaigns through the Citizens' Election Program, had violated laws and regulations related to the Program and imposed civil fines for those violations. Plaintiffs appealed. The superior court dismissed the appeal on the ground that it was untimely filed under Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-183(c)(2). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the timeliness of Plaintiffs' appeal was governed by the limitation period of Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-183(c)(3); and (2) Plaintiffs' appeal was timely filed under section 4-183(c)(3). View "Markley v. State Elections Enforcement Commission" on Justia Law

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In 2019, the Oxnard city council adopted a resolution placing Measure B on the March 2020 ballot. Measure B sought to extend the mayor’s term to four years and to establish a limit of three terms for city council members. Two weeks later, Starr delivered an initiative petition to the city council. Starr’s initiative would not allow a person to indefinitely alternate between mayor and council member without a break and would establish a combined two-term limit for mayor and council member. The Ventura County Elections Division certified the signatures on Starr’s initiative petition. Instead of placing Starr’s initiative on the ballot, in January 2020, the city exercised its option under Elections Code section 9215(a) to adopt the initiative as an ordinance without alteration but did not remove Measure B from the ballot. The voters adopted Measure B, so it prevailed over the terms of Starr’s initiative previously adopted as an ordinance, and the term limits provided in Starr’s initiative did not take effect.The court of appeal reversed the trial court and ordered that the initiative be placed on the ballot. The city’s actions, rendering the ordinance a nullity, deprived the voters of the opportunity to decide the issue of term limits. View "Starr v. Chaparro" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant John Tompkins worked as a physician at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for thirty years. From 2012 through 2016, he served as Chief of Surgery. In 2017, he was terminated from his position as a physician based on administrative deficiencies during his tenure as Chief of Surgery. After exhausting the VA’s administrative remedies, Tompkins filed suit claiming entitlement to: (1) review under the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”); and (2) relief under the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Tompkins appealed a district court order dismissing his complaint without prejudice based on his failure to identify an applicable waiver of the government’s sovereign immunity. After review, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals found no error in the district court's dismissal of Tompkins' complaint for lack of jurisdiction, and affirmed. View "Tompkins v. DOVA, et al." on Justia Law

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Oakland businesses must obtain a business tax certificate and pay business license taxes each year, based on the type of activities in which the business is engaged. A separate business tax certificate is required for each activity of the business unless the activity comprises less than 20 percent of the total gross receipts of the business. City tax authorities determine the appropriate business tax classifications based on the information reported by the taxpayer. Host held Port Department permits to occupy space and operate food, beverage, retail, and duty-free concessions at Oakland International Airport. The permits authorized Host to sublease its space to other parties with consent. In 2015, based on an audit of Host’s financial records, an auditor determined that Host owed Oakland unpaid business taxes, penalties, interest, and fees for rental income from subleases,2006-2015. Host had obtained a business certificate and paid business tax for its retail activities, but not for subleasing.Host unsuccessfully appealed, asserting that it was engaged only in retail sales (not commercial subleasing), that the 20 percent exception applied, and that Oakland could not collect some of the back taxes because of the statute of limitations. The Board, the trial court, and the court of appeal upheld the determination of a $371,195.40 tax liability. View "Host International, Inc. v. City of Oakland" on Justia Law

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Petitioners Governor Jay Inslee, the State of Washington, the Washington Department of Corrections, and Cheryl Strange, secretary of the Department of Corrections, sought the Washington Supreme Court's accelerated direct discretionary review of an order of the Franklin County Superior Court denying petitioners’ motion to change venue to Thurston County Superior Court in an action brought by respondent Jeffrey Johnson challenging proclamations the governor issued requiring certain state employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18, 2021. The merits of the underlying suit were not before the Court. In an order issued on October 11, 2021, the Court determined that mandatory venue for this action was in Thurston County Superior Court under RCW 4.12.020(2), and therefore granted petitioners’ motion for accelerated discretionary review, reversed the order of the Franklin County Superior Court, and remanded to that court with directions to grant petitioners’ motion to change venue without delay. In this opinion, the Court explained the reasoning underlying its order. View "Johnson v. Inslee" on Justia Law

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In this appeal following the termination of parental rights, the mother contended only that the social services agency failed to comply with the duty of initial inquiry imposed by state statutory provisions implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. The social services agency concedes error but argues that it was harmless. The Court of Appeal determined the agency failed to investigate readily obtainable information tending to shed meaningful light on whether a child was an Indian child, found the error prejudicial and conditionally reversed. "If, after completing the initial inquiry, neither CFS nor the court has reason to believe or to know that Benjamin is an Indian child, the order terminating parental rights to Benjamin shall be reinstated. If CFS or the court has reason to believe that Benjamin is an Indian child, the court shall proceed accordingly." View "In re Benjamin M." on Justia Law

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White, a white supremacist, is now in federal prison. His Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, requests concern a conspiracy theory: that the racist movement he joined is really an elaborate government sting operation. Dissatisfied with the pace at which the FBI and Marshals Service released responsive records and their alleged failure to reveal other records, White filed suit.The court granted the agencies summary judgment and denied White’s subsequent motion seeking costs because the Marshals Service alone was delinquent in responding; the 1,500 pages held by that agency were an insubstantial piece of the litigation compared to 100,000 pages of FBI documents. The court stated that “the transparent purpose of White’s FOIA requests and lawsuit was to harass the government, not to obtain information useful to the public.” White then filed an unsuccessful motion to reconsider, arguing that the court should not render a final decision until the FBI had redacted, copied, and sent all the responsive records, which will take more than a decade. White next moved to hold the Marshals Service in contempt for telling the court in 2018 that it would soon start sending him records; by 2020 White had received nothing. The court admonished the agency but determined that no judicial order had been violated. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district judge “carefully parsed White’s numerous and wide-ranging arguments and explained the result." View "White v. United States Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Merrimack Premium Outlets, LLC and Merrimack Premium Outlets Center, LLC, appealed, and defendant Town of Merrimack (Town), cross-appealed superior court orders in an action challenging the Town’s reassessment of taxable property. Merrimack Premium Outlets, LLC owned a large property in Merrimack (the Property) that it leased to Merrimack Premium Outlets Center, LLC. The latter entity operated a retail outlet shopping mall, known as the Merrimack Premium Outlets, on the Property. In 2016, the Town conducted a revaluation of all taxable property within the municipality. As a result, the Property was assessed at $86,549,400. Later that year, the Town became aware that the Property had been used in or about 2013 as collateral for a loan and had been valued for that purpose at $220,000,000. Based on this information, the Town believed that it had severely undervalued the Property. Accordingly, the Town reassessed the Property for the 2017 tax year at $154,149,500 (the 2017 reassessment). Plaintiffs then brought this action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, alleging there were no changes in either the Property or the market that justified the 2017 reassessment. The superior court ruled in favor of the Town. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in ruling that the Town had the authority to correct its undervaluation of the Property by adjusting its assessment pursuant to RSA 75:8. Given this disposition, the Court did not address the parties' remaining arguments. View "Merrimack Premium Outlets, LLC et al. v. Town of Merrimack" on Justia Law