Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to force the government to abide by procedural protections before debarring plaintiffs under 22 C.F.R. 127.7 from engaging in their business. Plaintiffs are exporters and resellers of United States armaments. Specifically, plaintiffs claim that they have been completely prohibited from engaging in all International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Arms Export Control Act (AECA) activities without being afforded the requisite procedural protections.The panel held that plaintiffs have insufficiently pleaded facts and submitted evidence to support their assertion that they have been de facto debarred. In this case, the entirety of plaintiffs' action, including its request for a preliminary injunction, rests on two presuppositions—that they have been de facto debarred and that the DDTC has improperly imposed a presumption of denial on their license applications. However, plaintiffs have not sufficiently established that either of these things happened. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. View "Thorne v. United States Department of State" on Justia Law

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The U.S. EPA promulgated new landfill emissions guidelines in 2016. Each state was required to submit a plan for implementing the new guidelines. The EPA was to approve or disapprove each state plan. For states that failed to submit a plan, the EPA had to promulgate a federal plan that would govern implementation in those states. The deadline for EPA issue the federal plan was set by regulation for November 2017. The EPA missed the deadline. Several states sued to force EPA to promulgate its federal plan. EPA responded to the suit and also began the rulemaking process to extend its regulatory deadline. While that rulemaking was underway, the district court entered an injunction requiring EPA to promulgate the federal plan within six months (November 2019). Months later, the EPA finalized the rulemaking process, extending its regulatory deadline by two years to August 2021. The district court declined to modify the injunction.The Ninth Circuit reversed. The district court abused its discretion in denying the EPA’s request for relief because the new regulations constituted a change in law, and removed the legal basis for the court’s deadline. A shift in the legal landscape that removed the basis for an order warranted modification of the injunction. The court rejected an argument that courts must look beyond the new regulations and conduct a broad, fact-specific inquiry into whether modification prevented inequity. View "California v. United States Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law

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Washington ballot initiative 1501 prohibits public access to certain government-controlled information, including the personal information of in-home care providers, but permits that information to be disclosed to the providers’ certified exclusive bargaining representatives. The law was challenged under 42 U.S.C. 1983 by in-home providers, required by Washington law to participate in statewide collective bargaining, who are not members of their respective unions and do not pay agency fees. They wanted to inform other individual in-home providers of their right to not pay union agency fees and were unable to obtain the necessary contact information.The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The First Amendment does not guarantee a general right of access to government-controlled information. Whether to disclose government-controlled information is generally left to the political processes but the First Amendment forbids a state from discriminating invidiously among viewpoints. A state does not engage in viewpoint discrimination by disclosing the personal information of public or quasi-public employees to the employees’ certified bargaining representative while denying equal access to the public. Initiative 1501 does not implicate the plaintiffs’ associational freedom; the plaintiffs lack standing to assert the rights of other in-home care providers. Initiative 1501 does not violate the Equal Protection Clause; the challenged provisions satisfy rational-basis review. The state has a legitimate interest in protecting seniors and other vulnerable individuals from identity theft and other financial crimes. There was no evidence that those who voted in favor of Initiative 1501 were motivated by an irrational prejudice or desire to harm the plaintiffs or their message. View "Boardman v. Inslee" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal based on lack of jurisdiction of an action brought by Sensory NueroStimulation, a medical device supplier, seeking Medicare coverage of its product. The panel held that the district court correctly held that 42 U.S.C. 405(h)'s administrative channeling requirement applied and that it therefore had no subject matter jurisdiction to hear Sensory's claims. In this case, the lawsuit is subject to Medicare's administrative channeling requirements; Sensory has not met those requirements; there exists a way to satisfy those requirements; and these conclusions do not completely preclude judicial review so as to trigger a key exception to the channeling requirements. View "Sensory NeuroStimulation, Inc. v. Azar" on Justia Law

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The Government challenges the district court's preliminary injunction entered in response to plaintiffs' claims that conditions at the Adelanto Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center, where they were detained, placed them at unconstitutional risk of contracting COVID-19. After oral argument, 38 detainees had tested positive for COVID-19, over 300 were awaiting test results, and 9 had been hospitalized.The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part the preliminary injunction order, holding that the district court was permitted to order the reduction of Adelanto's population, which may have required the release of some detainees, if such a remedy was necessary to cure the alleged constitutional violations. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by issuing some form of preliminary injunctive relief in response to plaintiffs' due process claims. The panel explained that, in light of the district court's factual findings which the Government has not shown to be clearly erroneous, the conditions at Adelanto in April 2020 violated detainees' due process right to reasonable safety where Adelanto was so crowded that social distancing to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus was impossible, detainees had inadequate access to masks, guards were not required to wear masks, there was not enough soap or hand sanitizer to go around, detainees were responsible for cleaning the facility with only dirty towels and dirty water, detainees were compelled to sleep with less than six feet of distance between them, and not all new arrivals were being properly quarantined or tested. The panel stated that the Government was aware of the risks and its inadequate response reflected a reckless disregard for detainee safety. Therefore, the district court rightly concluded that plaintiffs were likely to prevail on the merits. Furthermore, the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs were likely to suffer irreparable harm absent relief given COVID-19's high mortality rate, and the equities and public interest tipped in plaintiffs' favor. The panel further held that the district court did not err by provisionally certifying a class of all Adelanto detainees. In light of the changed circumstances at Adelanto since the preliminary injunction was entered, the panel vacated in part and remanded in part for the district court to address the current circumstances. View "Hernandez Roman v. Wolf" on Justia Law

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The emergency military construction authority provided by 10 U.S.C. 2808 does not authorize eleven border wall construction projects on the southern border of the United States.The Organizational Plaintiffs and the State Plaintiffs filed separate actions challenging the Federal Defendants' anticipated diversion of federal funds to fund border wall construction pursuant to various statutory authorities, including Section 2808. The Federal Defendants timely appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment and declaratory relief to Sierra Club and the States and the grant of a permanent injunction to Sierra Club. The States timely cross-appealed the denial of their request for a permanent injunction.The Ninth Circuit held that the States and Sierra Club both have Article III standing and a cause of action to challenge the Federal Defendants' border wall construction projects; Section 2808 did not authorize the challenged construction where the projects are neither necessary to support the use of the armed forces nor are they military construction projects; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in either granting a permanent injunction to Sierra Club or in denying a separate permanent injunction to the States. Although the panel recognized that in times of national emergency the panel generally owes great deference to the decisions of the Executive, the particular circumstances of this case require it to take seriously the limitations of the text of Section 2808 and to hold the Executive to them. The panel stated that where, as here, Congress has clung to this power with both hands—by withholding funding for border wall construction at great effort and cost and by attempting to terminate the existence of a national emergency on the southern border on two separate occasions, with a majority vote by both houses—the panel can neither pry it from Congress's grasp. View "Sierra Club v. Trump" on Justia Law

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This case arose after the death of George Floyd and the resulting nationwide protests in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The events at issue here stem from the BLM protests in Portland, Oregon where the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Marshals Service deployed federal law enforcement agents to the city.Plaintiffs' second amended complaint alleged that the Federal Defendants "intentionally targeted and used physical force and other forms of intimidation against journalists and authorized legal observers for the purpose of preventing or deterring them from observing and reporting on unreasonably aggressive treatment of lawful protestors." The district court entered a TRO against the Federal Defendants on July 23, 2020. On August 10, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the Federal Defendants, and the district court entered a preliminary injunction with terms largely identical to the terms of the July 23 TRO. On August 25, the district court denied the Federal Defendants' motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction pending appeal. On appeal, a divided three-judge motions panel issued an order on August 27 granting the Federal Defendants' motion for an administrative stay of the injunction pending resolution of their emergency motion for a stay pending appeal.The Ninth Circuit denied the Federal Defendants' emergency motion for stay pending appeal and lifted the administrative stay entered August 27, 2020. The panel held that the Federal Defendants have not made a strong showing that their standing argument is likely to succeed. The panel also held that the Federal Defendants have not made a strong showing required by Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 433-434 (2009), that they are likely to succeed on the merits of plaintiffs' First Amendment retaliation claim and First Amendment right-of-access claim. The panel further held that the Federal Defendants have not shown that they are likely to suffer irreparable injury as a result of the district court's preliminary injunction. Finally, the panel held that a stay of the district court's injunction would substantially injure both the City and the plaintiffs. View "Index Newspapers LLC v. United States Marshals Service" on Justia Law

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After the Census Bureau instituted a revised schedule on April 13 (COVID-19 Plan) for the 2020 decennial census due to the global pandemic, the Secretary of Commerce announced a new schedule (the Replan) where the Bureau greatly compressed, as compared both to the original schedule and to the COVID-19 Plan, the time allocated to various stages for completing the census. The district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Bureau from implementing its proposed Replan schedule for conducting the census.Addressing the government's emergency motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction pending appeal, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of the appeal as to plaintiffs' Administrative Procedure Act claims. To the extent that the district court enjoined the Replan and the September 30, 2020, deadline for data collection, the panel concluded that the government has not met its burden in showing irreparable harm, and the irreparable harm to plaintiffs and the resulting balance of equities justify the denial of a stay. To the extent that the district court enjoined the government from attempting to meet the December 31, 2020, statutory deadline for completing tabulations by state, the panel concluded that the government has, at this juncture, met its burden in seeking a stay pending appeal. Accordingly, the court denied in part and granted in part the motion for a stay. View "National Urban League v. Ross" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Sterling under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to recover response costs incurred at a Superfund Site. Sterling filed a counterclaim, arguing that the United States was itself liable for response costs under CERCLA as a prior "operator" of the Lava Cap Mine during World War II.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment finding Sterling liable for response costs and that plaintiffs could recover all response costs. The court held that Sterling is subject to CERCLA liability as a prior operator of the Mine and that the United States is not subject to CERCLA liability as a prior operator. The court also held that the interim remedy selected by the EPA to supply non-contaminated drinking water at the Site was not arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law. Furthermore, Sterling failed to overcome the presumption of consistency with the National Contingency Plan. View "United States v. Sterling Centrecorp Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a semi-tractor trailer, he filed suit against C.H. Robinson, the freight broker that arranged for the trailer to transport goods for Costco. Plaintiff alleged that C.H. Robinson negligently selected an unsafe motor carrier.The Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that plaintiff's claim is "related to" C.H. Robinson's services, but held that the district court erred in determining that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994's (FAAAA) safety exception does not apply. The panel explained that, in enacting that exception, Congress intended to preserve the States’ broad power over safety, a power that includes the ability to regulate conduct not only through legislative and administrative enactments, but also though common-law damages awards. The panel also held that plaintiff's claim has the requisite "connection with" motor vehicles because it arises out of a motor vehicle accident. Therefore, the negligence claims against brokers, to the extent that they arise out of motor vehicle accidents, have the requisite "connection with" motor vehicles, and thus the safety exception applies to plaintiff's claims against C.H. Robinson. The panel reversed and remanded. View "Miller v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc." on Justia Law