Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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P.S.  cryopreserved several sperm samples before his death. His surviving wife, Plaintiff, relied on those sperm samples and in vitro fertilization to conceive a child, P.S.S. She then sought child’s insurance benefits (“CIB”) under the Social Security Act on behalf of P.S.S. The Social Security Administration (the “Administration”) denied the claim for CIB, and the administrative law judge, the magistrate judge, and the district court all upheld the Administration’s denial of the claim. The central issue in this appeal is whether P.S.S. is entitled to recover CIB under the Social Security Act.   Because the Florida Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter of Florida law, has not published a decision addressing this question, principles of comity and federalism suggest that the Florida Supreme Court should decide this issue. Thus, the Eleventh Circuit deferred a decision in this case until the Florida Supreme Court has had the opportunity to consider and determine whether to exercise its discretion in answering the court’s certified question: (1) Under Florida law, is P.S.S. “provided for” in the decedent’s will within the meaning of Fla. Stat. Section 742.17(4)? (2) If the answer is yes, does Florida law authorize a posthumously conceived child who is provided for in the decedent’s will to inherit intestate the decedent’s property? View "Kathleen Steele v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff s required to register as a sex offender under the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act (“ASORCNA” or the “Act”). Plaintiff sued the Alabama Attorney General and others, claiming that some provisions of ASORCNA impose retroactive punishment in violation of the Constitution’s Ex Post Facto Clause. After a bench trial, the district court entered judgment against Plaintiff, concluding that the retroactive application of these provisions did not amount to punishment.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part. The court vacated the district court’s judgment insofar as it involves Plaintiff’s claims that it is unconstitutional to apply retroactively the following provisions of the ASORCNA, and remanded with instructions that it dismiss those claims as moot: (1) the identification-labeling requirement and (2) the dual registration requirements for homeless registrants and for registrants providing travel notification.   The court affirmed the district court’s judgment insofar as it rejects Plaintiff’s claims that it is unconstitutional to apply retroactively the following provisions of ASORCNA: (1) the residency and employment restrictions, (2) the homeless registration requirement, (3) the travel notification requirement, and (4) the community notification requirement. View "Michael A. McGuire v. Steven T. Marshall, et al" on Justia Law

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This appeal arises from a legislative invocation given by an invited, guest speaker before the opening of a Jacksonville City Council meeting. A City Council member  Anna Brosche, and a then-mayoral candidate, invited Plaintiff to give the invocation at the March 12, 2019, City Council meeting. When Plaintiff transitioned to levying criticisms against the City’s executive and legislative branches, the president of the City Council at the time, A.B., interrupted Plaintiff and later cut off his microphone.  Plaintiff brought suit against both the City and A.B. in his personal capacity. In his first two counts, actionable under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, Plaintiff alleged that both the City and Mr. Bowman violated his First Amendment rights under the Free Exercise Clause (Count I) and the Free Speech Clause (Count II) of the United States Constitution. The district court granted the Defendants’ motion to dismiss in part and denied it in part.   The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court erred in deeming Plaintiff’s invocation to be private speech in a nonpublic forum, the court affirmed the district court’s orders on the alternative ground that the invocation constitutes government speech, not subject to attack on free speech or free exercise grounds. The court explained that he did not bring a claim under the Establishment Clause. And since his invocation constitutes government speech, his speech is not susceptible to an attack on free speech or free-exercise grounds. View "Reginald L. Gundy v. City of Jacksonville, Florida, et al" on Justia Law

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The government filed a complaint against Defendant, alleging that he promoted a tax evasion scheme in which he advised his clients to claim unwarranted federal income tax deductions for bogus charitable donations. The government sought to enjoin him from operating his business, as well as disgorgement of all of the proceeds from his scheme.   The question before the Eleventh Circuit was whether the Act bars a defendant from moving—in an action initiated by the government—for a protective order to restrain the government from using his responses to requests for admission when assessing a tax penalty in a separate administrative proceeding.   The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal of Defendant’s motion under the Anti-Injunction Act and remanded for further proceedings. The court explained that because moving for a protective order in an action filed by the government does not amount to the maintenance of a “suit,” the Act does not apply. View "USA v. Michael L. Meyer" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, a group comprised of municipalities, individuals, and a nonprofit organization all based in South Florida, filed this petition for review, claiming that the FAA violated the National Environmental Protection Act (“NEPA”), the Clean Air Act, the Department of Transportation Act, and the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process Clause. Among other things, Petitioners say the FAA’s Purpose and Need Statement was seriously deficient in violation of NEPA; its Cumulative Impact Assessment was improper and violated NEPA.   The Eleventh Circuit denied the petitions for review concluding that none of the Petitioners’ claims have merit. The court held that the FAA scrupulously adhered to the requirements of the relevant statutes and afforded the public numerous opportunities to comment on the proposed changes. The court explained that the FAA engaged in an exhaustive study of the South-Central Florida Metroplex Project’s impact on the environment and noise levels in the affected area, and it found no significant impact. It also provided ample opportunity for the various stakeholders to learn about and comment on the project and complied with all procedural requirements. View "City of North Miami v. FAA, et al." on Justia Law

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Sailboat Bend Sober Living, LLC (“Sailboat Bend”), a for-profit sober living home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Silboat Bend has had trouble complying with the City of Fort Lauderdale (“the City”)’s Building and Fire Codes (collectively, “Codes”) and the City’s recently enacted Zoning Ordinance. Sailboat Bend brought several claims under the Fair Housing Act and Amendments (“FHA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) against the City in the Southern District of Florida, claiming that the City’s code enforcement decisions were motived by hostility to the disabled, their accommodation request was wrongfully denied, and the Zoning Ordinance was facially discriminatory against people with disabilities.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting summary judgment to the City of Fort Lauderdale, finding that the challenged zoning ordinance does not discriminate against the plaintiffs, but instead works to their benefit. The court also determined that plaintiff's requested accommodation was not necessary. View "Sailboat Bend Sober Living, et al v. City of Fort Lauderdale, FL." on Justia Law

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Several states challenged the portion of the vaccine mandate as it pertains to employees who work on or in connection with a covered contract, or share a workplace with another employee who does. The district court determined that Plaintiffs were entitled to a preliminary injunction.On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit agreed with the district court that Plainitffs were likely to prevail on the merits. However, the court also found that the injunction’s nationwide scope was too broad. Thus, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s order to the extent that it enjoins federal agencies from enforcing the mandate against the plaintiffs and to the extent that it bars the federal government from considering a bidder’s compliance with the mandate when deciding whether to grant a contract to a plaintiff or to a nonparty bidder. However, the Eleventh Circuit vacated the remaining portion of the preliminary injunction. View "State of Georgia, et al v. President of the United States, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a middle school student, was brought to school by his mother. He was wearing a hoodie over his head because he was embarrassed of his haircut. When Plaintiff’s mother told him to pull down the hoodie, Plaintiff got upset and a school employee called Defendant, the school resource officer. Defendant spoke with Plaintiff for two minutes before pushing him to the ground, pinning him down, and then pushing him in the back as he walked away. Defendant entered a guilty plea to a criminal battery charge.In this civil case, the district court entered summary judgment in Defendant’s favor on each of Plaintiff’s claims, finding he was entitled to qualified immunity. However, on appeal, the Eleventh Circuit reversed as to the excessive force and battery claims, finding that the force used by Defendant was excessive and that a reasonable jury could find that Defendant acted maliciously. View "Trellus Richmond v. Mario J. Badia" on Justia Law

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An anonymous complaint led to Plaintiff’s arrest and trial on charges of aggravated animal cruelty, battery on an officer, and resisting arrest. After a jury acquitted Plaintiff, he sued the officers who arrested him. At issue on appeal was whether those officers are immune from suit under Florida law.   The Eleventh Circuit denied Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the officers’ appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The court further reversed the district court’s judgment and remanded with instructions for the district court to enter summary judgment, based on sovereign immunity under Fla. Stat. Section 768.28(9)(a), in favor of the officers Officers on Plaintiff’s claims.   The court explained that the district court erred in this case when it applied the legal malice standard — instead of the actual malice standard — and determined that an arrest without probable cause by itself establishes that the officers acted with malice for purposes of Section 768.28(9)(a). Thus, because the district court applied the wrong standard, the district court didn’t do what is required, which is to analyze if each officer’s actions created a fact question about whether he was entitled to immunity from each state law claim against him.   The court addressed the immunity issues now instead of remanding the case for the district court to do so. In doing so the court held that no reasonable jury could find that any of the officers acted with actual malice or with wanton and willful disregard in arresting Plaintiff, even if they lacked probable cause to arrest him. View "Aaron Coleman v. John Riccardo, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs—five organizations and two individual voters from Gwinnett County, Georgia—alleged that absentee ballot applications and voting-related information should have been, but were not, provided in both English and Spanish to voters in Gwinnett County during the 2020 election cycle. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit was tasked with determining whether Defendants—the Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections, the Board’s individual members, and Georgia Secretary of State—violated Section 203 and Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. Section 10503, requires certain States and their political subdivisions to provide voting materials in languages in addition to English.The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiffs lacked standing. Plaintiffs sufficiently pleaded standing under a diversion of resources theory, and while some of Plaintiffs’ claims were moot, others remained live and amenable to meaningful relief from the court. The court, therefore, vacated the district court’s dismissal of the suit pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1).The court held that the district court was correct, however, in concluding that Plaintiffs failed to state causes of action under either Section 203 or Section 4(e) of the Voting Rights Act and in not granting Plaintiffs leave to file their proposed supplemental complaint. The court, therefore, affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the suit pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) and its denial of leave for Plaintiffs to file the supplemental complaint pursuant to Rule 15(d). View "Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, Inc., et al. v. Gwinnett County Board of Registration and Elections, et al." on Justia Law