Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
LA Forestry Ass’n, Inc. v. Sec’y U.S. Dep’t of Labor
In 2011, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a new regulation governing calculation of the minimum wage an employer must offer (prevailing wage) under the H-2B visa program, which permits U.S. employers to recruit foreign workers to fill unskilled, non-agricultural positions that no qualified U.S. worker will accept, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b). Associations representing employers in non-agricultural industries that recruit H-2B workers, concerned about higher labor costs as a result of the 2011 Wage Rule, challenged its validity. The district court and the Third Circuit upheld the regulation, rejecting arguments that DOL lacked authority to promulgate legislative rules concerning the H-2B program and that, even if the DOL has such rulemaking authority, its violation of certain procedural requirements invalidated the Rule.View "LA Forestry Ass'n, Inc. v. Sec'y U.S. Dep't of Labor" on Justia Law
Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation
Since September 11, 2001, efforts to restructure the FBI as the “domestic equivalent” of the Central Intelligence Agency have included revising internal FBI guidelines. The Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG), released by the Attorney General in 2008, authorizes FBI agents to engage in limited racial and ethnic profiling when conducting proactive assessments of criminal and terrorist threats and allows the FBI to collect and map data related to “[f]ocused behavioral characteristics reasonably believed to be associated with a particular criminal or terrorist element of an ethnic community.” The ACLU launched an initiative entitled “Mapping the FBI,” including a series of coordinated FOIA requests (28 U.S.C. 552(a)(3)(A)) seeking records related to the FBI’s use of ethnic and racial data. One request targeted six FBI field offices in New Jersey and sought information concerning implementation of authority to collect information and map racial and ethnic demographics and behaviors in local communities. The FBI identified 782 pages of potentially responsive records, eventually released 312 pages (some of which were partially redacted), withheld 186 pages as duplicative, and withheld 284 pages as exempt from disclosure. The ACLU sought an injunction for release of the withheld records. The district court ruled in favor of the FBI. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting a challenge to the in camera procedure employed for determining whether reliance on FOIA exclusion provision was justified.View "Am. Civil Liberties Union v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation" on Justia Law
Christ the King Manor, Inc. v. Sec’y, U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approved a 2008 amendment to Pennsylvania’s state plan for administering its Medicaid program. Private nursing facilities that provide services to Medicaid recipients challenged the amendment as violating Title XIX of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 1396, by adjusting Pennsylvania’s method for determining Medicaid reimbursement rates to private nursing facilities for the 2008-09 fiscal year without considering quality of care, which they claim violates 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(30)(A) and without satisfying the public process requirements of 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(13)(A). The district court rejected the claims on summary judgment. The Third Circuit affirmed in part, finding the state immune from the requested relief under the Eleventh Amendment. The district court erred in granting summary judgment to the federal defendants. By approving the amendment without any assurance that the amended plan would produce payments that are consistent with quality of care, HHS acted arbitrarily. View "Christ the King Manor, Inc. v. Sec'y, U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs." on Justia Law
Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Governor of NJ
Seeking to address illegal sports wagering and to improve its economy, New Jersey sought to license gambling on rofessional and amateur sporting events. Sports leagues sought to block those efforts, claiming, with the United States intervening, that the proposed law violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), 28 U.S.C. 3701, which prohibits most states from licensing sports gambling. New Jersey argued that the leagues lacked standing because they suffer no injury from legalization of wagering on their games and that PASPA was beyond Congress’ Commerce Clause powers. The state claimed that PASPA violates principles under the system of dual state and federal sovereignty: the “anti-commandeering” doctrine, on the ground that PASPA impermissibly prohibits states from enacting legislation to license sports gambling; and the “equal sovereignty” principle, in that PASPA permits Nevada to license sports gambling while banning other states from doing so. The district court enjoined New Jersey from licensing sports betting. The Third Circuit affirmed, holding that the leagues have Article III standing to enforce PASPA and that PASPA is constitutional. The court noted that accepting New Jersey’s arguments would require extraordinary steps, including invalidating a law under the anti-commandeering principle (the Supreme Court has only twice done so) and expanding that principle to suspend commonplace operations of the Supremacy Clause over state activity contrary to federal laws. View "Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n v. Governor of NJ" on Justia Law
United States v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P.
In the 1960s Penelec and NYSEG built the Homer City coal-burning power plant in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. The Clean Air Act of 1970 subsequently charged the EPA with setting national maximum permissible levels of common pollutants, 42 U.S.C. § 7409(a)–(b). In 1990 the CAA was amended by Title V, the Operating Permit Program, which requires all major sources of air pollution to obtain operating permits. The Plant’s “grandfathered” status ended in the 1990s, when Penelec and NYSEG made changes to boilers that increased emissions of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. Penelec and NYSEG believed the changes were “routine maintenance” and did not apply for a permit. In 1995, Penelec and NYSEG applied for a Title V operating permit; they subsequently sold the Plant to EME, which then sold to OLs, which simultaneously leased it back to EME. By 2004, the Plant had become “one of the largest air pollution sources in the nation,” and was a target of the EPA’s new enforcement initiative. In 2008 the EPA filed suit, alleging that the former owners had modified the Plant without a permit and without installing required emissions controls. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal. The relief sought would require distortion of plain statutory text to shore up what the EPA views as an incomplete remedial scheme. View "United States v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P." on Justia Law
United States v. Quinn
Quinn, charged with aiding and abetting Johnson in an armed bank robbery, claimed that when he drove Johnson to the bank, he did not know that Johnson intended to rob a bank teller at gunpoint. Johnson, who was awaiting sentencing, refused to testify. The district court refused Quinn’s request to immunize Johnson so he could testify. His statement to police that Quinn was not aware of the planned robbery was excluded as hearsay. Quinn was convicted and sentence to 147 months. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting a claim of prosecutorial misconduct by postponing sentencing to induce Johnson not to testify. Quinn also argued that the court erred by not exercising its authority to immunize Johnson’s testimony. Rejecting that claim, the court stated that courts lack that authority, as immunity is a statutory creation reserved to the Executive Branch. If the accused can show a due process violation, a court has authority to vacate a conviction. View "United States v. Quinn" on Justia Law
Lozano v. City of Hazleton
The district court permanently enjoined enforcement of two Hazleton ordinances that attempt to prohibit employment of unauthorized aliens and preclude them from renting housing within the city. The Third Circuit affirmed in 2010. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and remanded for reconsideration in light of Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, S. Ct. 1968 (2011). The Court later decided Arizona v. United States, 132 S. Ct.2492 (2012). Both address the extent to which federal immigration law preempts state laws pertaining to the treatment of unauthorized aliens. On remand, the Third Circuit again concluded that both the employment and housing provisions of the Hazleton ordinances are preempted by federal immigration law. The employment provisions in the ordinance are distinguishable from the Arizona law upheld in Whiting. The lack of minimal procedural protections in Hazleton’s ordinance conflicts with express congressional objective of minimizing undue burdens on, and harassment of, employers. The rental registration scheme serves no discernible purpose other than to register the immigration status of a subset of the city’s population. The Supreme Court’s reasoning in Whiting and Arizona does not undermine a conclusion that both the employment and housing provisions are preempted. View "Lozano v. City of Hazleton" on Justia Law
GenOn REMA LLC v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency
Portland Generating Station is a 427-megawatt, coal-fired, electricity generating plant in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, directly across the Delaware River within 500 feet of Warren County, New Jersey. The EPA found that Portland emits sulfur dioxide in amounts that significantly interfere with control of air pollution across state borders. In response to a petition under the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7408, 7409)), the EPA imposed direct limits on Portland‘s emissions and restrictions to reduce its contribution to air pollution within three years. The Third Circuit upheld the EPA actions. It was reasonable for the EPA to interpret Section 126(b) as an independent mechanism for enforcing interstate pollution control, giving it authority to promulgate the Portland Rule. The contents of the Portland Rule are not arbitrary, capricious, or abusive of the EPA‘s discretion. View "GenOn REMA LLC v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency" on Justia Law
NJ Primary Care Assoc. v. NJ Dep’t of Human Servs.
States participating in Medicaid in a managed care environment are required to make, at least every fourth month, supplemental “wraparound” payments to federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) equal to the difference between a rate set by statute multiplied by the number of Medicaid patient encounters, and the amount paid to FQHCs by managed care organizations (MCOs) for all Medicaid-covered patient encounters, 42 U.S.C.1396. Concerned that gaps in FQHC claim verification led to overpayments, the New Jersey Department of Human Services changed its calculation: instead of basing wraparound payments solely on the number of Medicaid encounters and total MCO receipts as self-reported by FQHCs, the state would rely on data reported by MCOs absent receipt of certain additional data from the FQHCs. Because MCOs report only encounters that they have approved and paid, prior MCO payment would be a prerequisite to wraparound reimbursement under the new system. An association of FQHCs sued, claiming that the change violated their due process rights as well as state and federal law, resulting in budget shortfalls. The district court granted the association summary judgment and a preliminary injunction. The Third Circuit affirmed the holding that the requirement that wraparound payments be contingent on prior MCO payment violated the Medicaid statute’s requirement that FQHCs receive timely full wraparound payment for all Medicaid-eligible claims. View "NJ Primary Care Assoc. v. NJ Dep't of Human Servs." on Justia Law
Baer v. United States
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Office of Investigations (OIG) found that the SEC had received numerous substantive complaints since 1992 that raised significant concerns about Madoff’s hedge fund operations that should have led to a thorough investigation of the possibility that Madoff was operating a Ponzi scheme. The SEC conducted five examinations and investigations, but never took the steps necessary to determine whether Madoff was misrepresenting his trading. The OIG found that had these efforts been made, the SEC could have uncovered the Ponzi scheme. Madoff’s clients filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671, to recover damages resulting from the SEC’s failure to uncover and terminate the scheme in a timely manner. The district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that the claims were barred by the discretionary function exception to the FTCA. The Third Circuit affirmed, reasoning that SEC regulations afford examiners discretion regarding the timing, manner, and scope of investigations and that there is a strong presumption that the SEC’s conduct is susceptible to policy analysis. View "Baer v. United States" on Justia Law