Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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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

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a petition for review of the OMB's decision denying plaintiff's Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) petition. The PRA authorizes individuals to petition the OMB for a determination of whether they must provide information requested by or for a government agency. Where such a petition does not challenge an OMB decision "to approve or not act upon a collection of information contained in an agency rule," the subsequent determination is subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act. The panel held that the denial of the petition was not statutorily precluded, because the petition did not involve a decision subject to the PRA's prohibition. Therefore, the panel held that the district court erred in determining that the OMB's denial of the petition was not a final agency action and the district court had jurisdiction to review the OMB's decision denying plaintiff's petition. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Hyatt v. Office of Management and Budget" on Justia Law

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The government's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is subject to judicial review. Upon review, the Ninth Circuit held that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the rescission of DACA is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law. After concluding that neither the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) nor the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) precluded judicial review, the panel held that DACA was a permissible exercise of executive discretion, notwithstanding the Fifth Circuit's conclusion that the related Deferred Action for Parent Arrivals (DAPA) program exceeded DHS's statutory authority. In this case, DACA was being implemented in a manner that reflected discretionary, case-by-base review, and at least one of the Fifth Circuit's key rationales in striking down DAPA was inapplicable with respect to DACA. Therefore, because the Acting Secretary was incorrect in her belief that DACA was illegal and had to be rescinded, the panel held that plaintiffs were likely to succeed in demonstrating that the rescission must be set aside. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in issuing a nationwide injunction; the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' APA notice and comment claim and substantive due process rights claim; and the district court properly denied the government's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' APA arbitrary and capricious claim, due process rights claim, and equal protection claim. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the district court's grant of preliminary injunctive relief, and affirmed in part the district court's partial grant and partial denial of the government's motion to dismiss. View "Regents of the University of California v. USDHS" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion filed December 12, 2017, and substituted the following opinion. In National Mining Association v. Zinke, 877 F.3d 845 (9th Cir. 2017), the panel upheld the decision of the Secretary of the Interior to withdraw, for twenty years, more than one million acres of public lands around Grand Canyon National Park from new mining claims. The panel held that that withdrawal did not extinguish "valid existing rights." The panel affirmed, with one exception, the district court's judgment in an action filed by the Tribe and three environmental groups challenging the Forest Service's determination that Energy Fuels had a valid existing right to operate a uranium mine on land within the withdrawal area. The panel held that the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, and not the Mining Act, formed the legal basis of plaintiffs' claim that Canyon Mine should not be exempt from the withdrawal because the valid existing right determination was in error. The panel vacated as to this claim and remanded for reconsideration on the merits. View "Havasupai Tribe v. Provencio" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's preliminary injunction preventing implementation of California Senate Bill 84, which requires railroads to collect fees from customers shipping certain hazardous materials and then to remit those fees to California. The district court held that the railroads were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims. The panel agreed and held that SB 84 was preempted under the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act because it had a direct effect on rail transportation, and it was not protected from preemption by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act because the fees authorized by SB 84 were not "fair." The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in evaluating irreparable harm, the balance of the equities, and the public interest. View "BNSF Railway Co. v. California Department of Tax and Fee Administration" on Justia Law

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FERC acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying a complaint brought by the Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts alleging that PG&E breached agreements between the parties. The Ninth Circuit granted the petition for review of FERC's orders and held that FERC misinterpreted the definition of "Adverse Impact" to the service territories of the Districts, and thus improperly disposed of the Districts' complaints without determining whether changes to the Remedial Action Scheme may result in reductions in transmission over the California-Oregon Transmission Project. The panel also held that FERC applied the wrong standard for initiating a study when making its factual findings. The panel directed FERC on remand to apply the broader definition of Adverse Impact that included reductions in import capability over the California-Oregon Transmission Project and the proper standard for requesting a study in determining whether PG&E breached the Interconnection Agreements. View "Turlock Irrigation District v. FERC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying the school's motion for summary judgment in a qui tam action brought by relators under the False Claims Act (FCA). Relators alleged that the school violated an incentive compensation ban included in its program participation agreement with the Department of Education, through which it qualified for federal funding. The panel held that a reasonable trier of fact could conclude that the school's actions met the falsity requirements in Universal Health Servs., Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016). The panel held that Escobar did not overrule United States ex rel. Hendow v. Univ. of Phoenix, 461 F.3d 1166 (9th Cir. 2006), which held that, with regard to materiality, the question is whether the false certification was relevant to the government's decision to confer a benefit. The panel applied Esobar's standard of materiality and held that a reasonable trier of fact could find materiality because the DOE's payment was conditioned on compliance with the incentive compensation ban, past enforcement activities, and the substantial size of the incentive payments. Finally, the safe harbor provision was inapplicable in this case. View "US ex rel. Rose v. Stephens Institute" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit amended the certification order in an appeal challenging Nevada state water law. The panel certified the following questions to the Supreme Court of Nevada: Does the public trust doctrine apply to rights already adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation and, if so, to what extent? If the public trust doctrine applies and allows for reallocation of rights settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation, does the abrogation of such adjudicated or vested rights constitute a "taking" under the Nevada Constitution requiring payment of just compensation? View "Mineral County v. Walker River Irrigation District" on Justia Law

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CBD filed suit challenging the FWS's decision not to list the arctic grayling as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Ninth Circuit reversed in part the district court's grant of summary judgment to FWS, holding that FWS acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner. The panel held that the 2014 Finding's decision that listing the arctic grayling was "not warranted" was arbitrary and capricious because it ignored the DeHaan study's evidence that shows decreasing numbers of breeders and instead heavily relied on a contrary finding showing increasing population; did not provide a reasoned explanation for relying on the existence of cold water refugia in the Big Hole River; failed to consider the synergistic effects of climate change solely because of "uncertainty"; and concluded that the Ruby River population was viable based on data collected over a shorter period than that underlying the 2010 Finding and FWS's own established criteria for viability. View "Center for Biological Diversity v. Zinke" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit granted a petition for review of the EPA's 2017 order maintaining a tolerance for the pesticide chlorpyrifos. In this case, the EPA did not defend the order on the merits but argued that despite petitioners having properly-filed administrative objections to the order more than a year ago and the statutory requirement that the EPA respond to such objections "as soon as practicable," the EPA's failure to respond to the objections deprived the panel of jurisdiction to adjudicate whether the EPA exceeded its statutory authority in refusing to ban use of chlorpyrifos on food products. The panel held that obtaining a response to objections before seeking review by this court was a claim-processing rule that did not restrict federal jurisdiction, and that could, and here should, be excused. Accordingly, the court vacated the order and remanded to the EPA with directions to revoke all tolerances and cancel all registrations for chlorpyrifos within 60 days. View "League of United Latin American Citizens v. New York" on Justia Law