Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Constitutional Law
Jason Payne v. Joseph Biden, Jr.
On November 22, 2021—the day federal employees were required to be vaccinated—Appellant filed suit in District Court, challenging the mandate’s constitutionality. Characterizing Appellant’s suit as a “workplace dispute involving a covered federal employee,” the District Court found Appellant’s claims were precluded under the CSRA and dismissed the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On appeal, Appellant insisted that he challenges the vaccine mandate’s constitutionality, as opposed to contesting a workplace dispute under the CSRA. According to his complaint, however, he alleged that the vaccine mandate is unconstitutional—at least in part—because it requires that he obtain the vaccine to avoid adverse employment action. The DC Circuit affirmed. The court explained that all attempts to characterize his argument as anything but a challenge to adverse employment action fail for jurisdictional purposes because Appellant himself admitted that his standing to challenge the vaccine mandate is rooted in the looming disciplinary action he now faces as a result of his continued noncompliance. In other words, Appellant challenges the vaccine mandate to maintain his employment while continuing to defy the mandate that he views as unlawful. And while his constitutional arguments are relevant to the merits, they do not change the fact that one of Appellant’s interests in this suit is to avoid the impending adverse employment action. Appellant’s claims are not wholly collateral because challenges to adverse employment actions are the type of claims that the MSPB regularly adjudicates. Thus, the court found that should Appellant choose to continue challenging the vaccine mandate, he must do so through the CSRA’s scheme. View "Jason Payne v. Joseph Biden, Jr." on Justia Law
Western Watersheds Project v. Interior Board of Land Appeals, et al.
In 2019, Western Watersheds Project sued to challenge the issuance of permits that expired in 2018. The district court dismissed the case for lack of Article III standing. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with that decision: Western Watersheds Project’s claims were brought against expired permits that had already been renewed automatically by 43 U.S.C. § 1752(c)(2). And the timing of a new environmental analysis of the new permits was within the Secretary’s discretion under 43 U.S.C. § 1752(i). Western Watersheds Project, therefore, lacked Article III standing because its claims were not redressable. View "Western Watersheds Project v. Interior Board of Land Appeals, et al." on Justia Law
LYDIA OLSON, ET AL V. STATE OF CALIFORNIA, ET AL
Individuals Plaintiffs, Uber, Inc. (Uber) and Postmates, Inc. (Postmates, and collectively Plaintiffs) appealed the district court’s orders denying their motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissing their Second Amended Complaint. Plaintiffs filed this action to enjoin the State of California and the Attorney General of California (Defendants), from enforcing California Assembly Bill 5, 2019 Cal. Stats. Ch. 296 (A.B. 5), as amended by California Assembly Bill 170, 2019 Cal. Stats. Ch. 415 (A.B. 170) and California Assembly Bill 2257, 2020 Cal. Stats. Ch. 38 (A.B. 2257, and collectively A.B. 5, as amended), against them. A.B. 5, as amended, codified the “ABC test” adopted by the Supreme Court of California in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, 4 Cal. 5th 903 (2018).1 A.B. 5, as amended, however, incorporated numerous exemptions into its provisions. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part district court orders dismissing Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint and denying Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded. The panel first held that, even under the fairly forgiving rational basis review, Plaintiffs plausibly alleged that A.B. 5, as amended, violated the Equal Protection Clause for those engaged in app-based ride-hailing and delivery services. Thus, Plaintiffs plausibly alleged that the primary impetus for the enactment of A.B. 5 was the disfavor with which the architect of the legislation viewed Uber, Postmates, and similar gig-based business models. The panel held that the district court correctly dismissed Plaintiffs’ due process claims because Plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege that A.B. 5, as amended, completely prohibited them from exercising their “right to engage in a calling.” View "LYDIA OLSON, ET AL V. STATE OF CALIFORNIA, ET AL" on Justia Law
City of Canton Board of Aldermen v. Slaughter, et al.
This case concerned the removal of two commissioners of the Canton Municipal Utilities Commission (CMU Commission) by the City of Canton Board of Aldermen (the Board). The Mayor of Canton vetoed a resolution of the Board issuing notice and an opportunity to be heard to the commissioners. The Board claimed to override the veto by a vote of two-thirds of the majority of members, although in actuality it failed for lack of the requisite majority. It then proceeded with a hearing and ultimately removed the commissioners from their appointed positions. The decision of the Board was appealed. The circuit court reversed the decision to remove the commissioners, finding that the Board failed to override the Mayor’s veto and that the actions taken to remove the commissioners following the failure to override the veto were void as a matter of law. The Board appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, claiming the commissioners’ notice of appeal contained fatal jurisdictional errors, notice and an opportunity to be heard were not required for the removal to be effective and the Board properly overrode the Mayor’s veto. After a careful review of the law, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment. View "City of Canton Board of Aldermen v. Slaughter, et al." on Justia Law
Wrigley v. Romanick, et al.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, on behalf of the State of North Dakota (“the State”), sought a supervisory writ to vacate a district court’s order granting a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement of N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31-12. The injunction was granted in Access Indep. Health Servs., Inc., et al. v. Wrigley, et al., Burleigh Co. Court No. 2022-CV- 01608. The State argued the district court abused its discretion in granting the injunction because Access Independent Health Services, Inc., d/b/a Red River Women’s Clinic (“RRWC”) and the other plaintiffs failed to prove: (1) they had a substantial likelihood of success on the merits; (2) they would suffer irreparable injury; (3) there would be harm to other interested parties; and (4) the effect on the public interest weighed in favor of granting a preliminary injunction. The North Dakota Supreme Court found that while the regulation of abortion was within the authority of the legislature under the North Dakota Constitution, RRWC demonstrated likely success on the merits that there was a fundamental right to an abortion in the limited instances of life-saving and health-preserving circumstances, and the statute was not narrowly tailored to satisfy strict scrutiny. The Court granted the requested review, denied the relief requested in the petition, and left in place the order granting a preliminary injunction. View "Wrigley v. Romanick, et al." on Justia Law
Flores-Case ‘Ohana v. University of Haw.
In this case challenging the constitutionality of administrative rules governing access to Mauna Kea's summit under Haw. Const. art XII, 7, the Supreme Court answered questions reserved by the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit by holding (1) in a challenge to the constitutionality of administrative rules based on a violation of Haw. Const. art. XII, 7, the burden of proof does not shift to the government agency defendant and instead remains with the challenging party; and (2) the framework set forth in Ka Pa'akai O Ka'Aina v. Land Use Comm'n, 7 P.3d 1068 (Haw. 2000), applies to challenges to the constitutionality of an administrative rule based on an alleged violation of article XII, section 7, in addition to contested case hearings. View "Flores-Case 'Ohana v. University of Haw." on Justia Law
Georgia, et al. v. Sass Group, LLC et al.
In November of 2020, the people of Georgia, through the results of a ballot question posed in the general election, amended the State Constitution to allow for a specific waiver of sovereign immunity. This new waiver allowed citizens to sue the State for declaratory relief ("Paragraph V"). To the extent that citizens obtain a favorable ruling on their claim for declaratory relief, they could then also seek injunctive relief to “enforce [the court’s] judgment.” To take advantage of this new waiver of the doctrine of sovereign immunity, however, the Constitution provided that such actions had to be brought “exclusively” against the State. When a plaintiff’s suit violated this exclusivity provision, the Constitution required the suit be dismissed. In the underlying appeal, the plaintiffs’ suit named a defendant for whom a waiver was not provided by Paragraph V. Accordingly, the Constitution required the suit to be dismissed. The Georgia Supreme Court therefore vacated the trial court’s grant of an interlocutory injunction, reversed the denial of the State’s motion to dismiss, and remanded this case with direction that it be dismissed. View "Georgia, et al. v. Sass Group, LLC et al." on Justia Law
Ciraci v. J.M. Smucker Co.
Smucker’s is a federal contractor that supplies food items to the federal government. In 2021, by Executive Order, President Biden directed all federal contractors to “ensure that all [their] employees [were] fully vaccinated for COVID-19,” unless such employees were “legally entitled” to health or religious accommodations. The order made contractors “responsible for considering, and dispositioning, such requests for accommodations.” In September 2021, Smucker’s notified its U.S. employees that it would “ask and expect” them to “be fully vaccinated.” A month later, in the face of “deadlines in the federal order,” Smucker’s announced a formal vaccine mandate with exemptions based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.”The plaintiffs unsuccessfully sought religious exemptions, then sued Smucker's under the First Amendment's free-exercise guarantee. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. When Smucker’s denied the exemption requests, it was not a state actor. Smucker’s does not perform a traditional, exclusive public function; it has not acted jointly with the government or entwined itself with it; and the government did not compel it to deny anyone an exemption. That Smucker’s acted in compliance with federal law and that Smucker’s served as a federal contractor, do not by themselves make the company a government actor. View "Ciraci v. J.M. Smucker Co." on Justia Law
Elsa Maldonado v. DC
More than a decade ago, Medicaid recipients filed this suit alleging that in violation of the Due Process Clause, the District of Columbia is failing to provide them notice and an opportunity to be heard when denying them prescription coverage. The case is now before the DC Circuit for the third time. In the first two appeals, the DC Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissals for lack of standing and for failure to state a claim, respectively. On remand, the district court once more dismissed the case, this time for mootness. The DC Circuit again reversed and remanded with instructions to proceed expeditiously with discovery and allow Plaintiffs to make their case. The court explained that Plaintiffs challenged the District’s failure to give Medicaid recipients reasons for denying their prescriptions and an explanation of how to appeal, and uncontested evidence demonstrates that, notwithstanding the transmittal memorandum, some number of Plaintiffs are still not receiving the information they claim they are entitled to under the Due Process Clause. Because it is not “impossible for [the district] court to grant any effectual relief,” the case is not moot. View "Elsa Maldonado v. DC" on Justia Law
National Rifle Association, et al. v. Commissioner, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
After a 19-year-old shot and killed seventeen people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Florida Legislature enacted the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which bans the sale of firearms to 18-to-20-year-olds. In doing so, the Legislature sought “to comprehensively address the crisis of gun violence, including but not limited to, gun violence on school campuses.” Shortly after the law passed, the NRA challenged it, alleging that the law violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. The parties eventually filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the district court ruled in Florida’s favor. The NRA then filed an appeal. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s order granting summary judgment in Florida’s favor. The court explained that Florida enacted the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act—as its name indicates—for precisely the same reason as states in the Reconstruction Era adopted their firearm restrictions for 18-to-20-year-olds—to address the public-safety crisis some 18-to-20-year-olds with firearms represent. Because Florida’s Act is at least as modest as the firearm prohibitions on 18- to-20-year-olds in the Reconstruction Era and enacted for the same reason as those laws, it is “relevantly similar” to those Reconstruction Era laws. And as a result, it does not violate the Second Amendment. View "National Rifle Association, et al. v. Commissioner, Florida Department of Law Enforcement" on Justia Law