Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Forest Service in an action challenging travel management plans implemented by the Forest Service to permit limited motorized big game retrieval in three Ranger Districts of the Kaibab National Forest. The panel held that the Forest Service did not violate the plain terms of the Travel Management Rule absent authority requiring a strictly geographic interpretation of the words "limited" and "sparingly." Determining that plaintiffs had standing to bring their claims under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the panel held that the Forest Service took the requisite hard look and its determinations were neither arbitrary nor capricious. In this case, the Forest Service did not violate NEPA by declining to prepare environmental impact statements based on the plans' environmental impacts. Finally, the panel held that the Forest Service satisfied its procedural obligations under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) by conducting the required prefield work, consulting the appropriate entities, and reaching a determination consistent with the evidence before it. View "WildEarth Guardians v. Provencio" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the government defendants, in an action brought by the Community challenging Interior's determination that it is ineligible for gaming for purposes of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The panel held that the agency's determination was correct, because the IGRA clearly and unambiguously requires federal recognition by the Secretary of the Department of the Interior before a tribe may qualify to participate in Indian gaming. The panel also held that the Frank's Landing Act did not authorize the Community to engage in class II gaming. View "Frank's Landing Indian Community v. National Indian Gaming Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, three Muslim residents of California, filed a putative class action against Government Defendants and Agent Defendants, alleging that the FBI paid a confidential informant to conduct a covert surveillance program that gathered information about Muslims based solely on their religious identity. Plaintiffs argued that the investigation involved unlawful searches and anti-Muslim discrimination, in violation of eleven constitutional and statutory causes of action. The Ninth Circuit held that some of the claims dismissed on state secrets grounds should not have been dismissed outright. Rather, the district court should have reviewed any state secrets evidence necessary for a determination of whether the alleged surveillance was unlawful following the secrecy protective procedure in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The panel held that the Fourth Amendment injunctive relief claim against the official-capacity defendants should not have been dismissed, because expungement relief was available under the Constitution to remedy the alleged constitutional violations. The panel declined to address whether plaintiffs' Bivens claim remained available after the Supreme Court's decision in Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137 S. Ct. 1843 (2017), and thus remanded for the district court to determine whether a Bivens remedy was appropriate for any Fourth Amendment claim against the Agent Defendants. The panel addressed defendants' remaining claims supporting the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims and held that some of plaintiffs' allegations stated a claim while others did not. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part and reversed in part, remanding for further proceedings. View "Fazaga v. FBI" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for DHS in an action challenging DHS's authority to expedite construction of border barriers near San Diego and Calexico, California. On January 25, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13,767, directing federal agencies to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation's southern border. A focal point of the directive was to immediately construct a physical wall. As a threshold matter, the panel held that it had jurisdiction to consider the "predicate legal question" of whether the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) authorizes the contested projects. On the merits, the panel held that IIRIRA section 102(a)'s broad grant of authority, which was not limited by section 102(b), authorized the construction projects. The panel affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to DHS, holding that the projects were statutorily authorized and therefore not ultra vires. The panel also held that DHS has waived the environmental laws California and environmental groups sought to enforce. Furthermore, the panel lacked jurisdiction to consider any argument challenging the Secretary of DHS's August and September 2017 waivers of applicable environmental laws. View "Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for federal defendants in an Administrative Procedure Act (APA) action challenging the Functional Standard regarding the sharing of terrorism-related information. The panel held that the Functional Standard constituted final agency action because it has legal and practical effects. However, it was not a legislative rule because it requires significant analyst discretion, and thus the Functional Standard was exempt from the notice and comment requirement. Furthermore, the Functional Standard was not arbitrary and capricious because the Information Sharing Environment's (ISE) 2015 explanation distinguishing Part 23 information and suspicious activity reports (SARs) is consistent with the ISE's objectives. View "Gill v. DOJ" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged California Air Resources Board regulations regarding the first Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), which went into effect in 2011; the LCFS as amended in 2012; and the LCFS which replaced the first LCFS in 2015. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiffs' challenges to previous versions of the LCFS have been made moot by their repeal. The panel affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' remaining claims against the present version of the LCFS as largely precluded by the panel's decision in Rocky Mountain Farmers Union v. Corey, 730 F.3d 1070 (9th Cir. 2013). The panel also held that plaintiffs' extraterritoriality claims against the 2015 LCFS were precluded by the law of the case and by recent circuit precedent in Am. Fuel & Petrochemical Mfrs. v. O'Keeffe, 903 F.3d 903 (9th Cir. 2018). Finally, the LCFS did not facially discriminate against interstate commerce in its treatment of ethanol and crude oil, and did not purposefully discriminate against out-of-state ethanol. View "Rocky Mountain Farmers Union v. Corey" on Justia Law

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Petitions for review of compensation orders arising under the Defense Base Act should be filed in the circuit where the relevant district director is located. The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review challenging the Benefits Review Board's decision concluding that a linguist who supported the military in Iraq was entitled to workers' compensation under the Defense Base Act. The panel held that substantial evidence supported the ALJ's determination that claimant met both the medical and the economic aspect of disability as defined by the statute; the ALJ applied the correct legal standard when considering the evidence in this case; and the ALJ correctly concluded that claimant met his burden to show that he was disabled. View "Global Linguist Solutions, LLC v. Abdelmeged" on Justia Law

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Sierra Club filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking records generated during the EPA's rule-making process concerning cooling water intake structures. The panel affirmed in part the district court's summary judgment order requiring the production of certain documents, holding that the December 2013 draft jeopardy biological opinions and related documents, as well as the March 2014 reasonable and prudent alternative (RPA), were not both predecisional and deliberative. However, the panel reversed in part and held that there was sufficient support to conclude that the December 2013 RPAs and the April 2014 draft jeopardy opinion were pre-decisional and deliberative. Therefore, these records were exempt under FOIA Exemption 5. The panel remanded for a segregability analysis. View "Sierra Club v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the FTC, as well as a relief order, in an action alleging that a defendant's business practices violated section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Defendant offered high interest, short term payday loans through various websites that each included a Loan Note with the essential terms of the loan under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). The panel held that the Loan Note was deceptive because it did not accurately disclose the loan's terms. Under the circumstances, the Loan Note was likely to deceive a consumer acting reasonably. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its its discretion when calculating the amount it ordered defendant to pay. Finally, the district court did not err by entering a permanent injunction enjoining defendant from engaging in consumer lending. View "FTC V. AMG Capital Management, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs have failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact on whether racial considerations predominated the City of Los Angeles's redistricting process. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's protective order and its order granting summary judgment for the City in an action alleging that race was the predominant motivator in drawing the boundaries of council districts in the Council District 10 redistricting ordinance. Viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the panel held that the record failed to show that successive boundary amendments were driven predominantly by racial considerations. Rather, the Commission sought to rebalance the populations in each Council District, while preserving communities and unifying as many Neighborhood Councils as possible in a single Council District. The panel also held that the legislative privilege protected local officials from being deposed. View "Lee v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law