Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's holding that the EPA properly invoked the deliberative process privilege and Exemption 5 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to withhold a portion of its OMEGA computer program when responding to plaintiffs' FOIA request. The OMEGA model is an EPA computer program used to forecast the likely responses of automakers to proposed EPA greenhouse gas emissions standards. In this case, the record shows that to the extent the full OMEGA model reflects any subjective agency views, it does so in the input files, not the core model. Therefore, the core model is not deliberative and thus does not fall within the scope of the privilege and FOIA Exemption 5. View "Natural Resources Defense Council v. EPA" on Justia Law

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The Attorney General was statutorily authorized to impose all three challenged immigration-related conditions on Byrne Criminal Justice Assistance grant applications. The conditions require grant applicants to certify that they will (1) comply with federal law prohibiting any restrictions on the communication of citizenship and alien status information with federal immigration authorities; (2) provide federal authorities, upon request, with the release dates of incarcerated illegal aliens; and (3) afford federal immigration officers access to incarcerated illegal aliens. The Second Circuit held that the Certification Condition (1) is statutorily authorized by 34 U.S.C. 10153(a)(5)(D)'s requirement that applicants comply with "all other applicable Federal laws," and (2) does not violate the Tenth Amendment's anticommandeering principle; the Notice Condition is statutorily authorized by section 10153(a)(4)'s reporting requirement, section 10153(a)(5)(C)'s coordination requirement, and section 10155's rule‐making authority; and the Access Condition is statutorily authorized by section 10153(a)(5)(C)'s coordination requirement, and section 10155's rule‐making authority. The court also held that the Attorney General did not overlook important detrimental effects of the challenged conditions so as to make their imposition arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's award of partial summary judgment to plaintiffs; vacated the district court's mandate ordering defendants to release withheld 2017 Byrne funds, as well as its injunction barring defendants from imposing the three challenged immigration‐related conditions on such grants; and remanded for further proceedings. View "New York v. United States Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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FOA filed suit against NPS, alleging that the agency violated the National Environmental Policy Act in approving the Whitetailed Deer Management Plan for the Fire Island National Seashore. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of FOA's motion for summary judgment and grant of NPS's cross-motion for summary judgment, holding that NPS's decision was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law. In this case, NPS was not required to obtain the information about deer movement because it was not essential to a reasoned choice among alternatives; NPS took a hard look at the environmental consequences of the Plan; NPS has presented a rational basis for its decision to employ a Seashore-wide target deer density; and NPS considered all reasonable alternatives. View "Friends of Animals v. Romero" on Justia Law

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On expedited interlocutory appeal, the Second Circuit affirmed in substantial part the district court's order denying President Trump's motion for a preliminary injunction preventing compliance with subpoenas seeking his financial records and denying President Trump's motion for a stay pending appeal. Specifically at issue was the lawfulness of three subpoenas issued by the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to two banks, Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corporation, seeking financial records of President Trump, members of his family, and the Trump Organization (collectively, "appellants"), and financial records from the Trump Organization and affiliated entities. The court held that those seeking to preliminarily enjoin compliance with subpoenas issued by congressional committees exercising their constitutional and duly authorized power to subpoena documents in aid of both regulatory oversight and consideration of potential legislation must satisfy the more rigorous likelihood‐of‐success standard. In this case, although appellants have established irreparable injury, the court held that appellants have not shown a likelihood of success on any of their statutory and constitutional claims. The court also held that the balance of the hardships and equities did not decidedly tip in favor of appellants, and the public interest in vindicating the committees’ constitutional authority was clear and substantial. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's order in substantial part to the extent that it denied a preliminary injunction and ordered prompt compliance with the subpoenas, except that the case is remanded to a limited extent for implementation of the procedure set forth in this opinion concerning the nondisclosure of sensitive personal information and a limited opportunity for appellants to object to disclosure of other specific documents within the coverage of those paragraphs of the subpoenas listed in this opinion. The court dismissed as moot the appeal from the order to the extent that it denied a stay pending appeal. View "Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment granting Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss. Relators alleged that the district court erred in concluding that fraudulent loan requests knowingly presented to one or more of the Federal Reserve System's twelve Federal Reserve Banks (FRBs) are not "claims" within the meaning of the False Claims Act (FCA), and thus do not give rise to FCA liability. The court held that the FCA's definition of a "claim" is capacious. The court explained that, although FRB personnel are not officers or employees of the United States, the FRBs administered the Federal Reserve System's emergency lending facilities on behalf of the United States, using authority delegated by Congress and money provided by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Therefore, the court concluded that the FRBs are agents of the United States within the meaning of 31 U.S.C. 3729(b)(2)(A)(i). The court also held that the money requested by defendants and other Fed borrowers is provided by the United States to advance a Government program or interest within the meaning of section 3729(b)(2)(A)(ii). View "United States v. Wells Fargo" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the SEC's denial of whistleblower awards following a $50 million settlement the SEC reached with Deutsche Bank AG. The Second Circuit denied the petitions for review, holding that it was not arbitrary or capricious for the SEC to conclude that Petitioner Doe's submissions did not provide "original information to the Commission that led to" a successful enforcement action, because Doe's submissions were not used by the Deutsche Bank team. Therefore, the SEC was not equitably estopped from denying Doe's award. The court also held that the SEC did not violate Doe's due process rights by failing to provide Doe with certain materials, and the SEC did not act arbitrarily or capriciously by favoring Claimant 2's submissions over Doe's. Furthermore, petitioners were not entitled to an award for the information they submitted in their Form TCR. Finally, the court held that petitioners' remaining claims were without merit. View "Kilgour v. SEC" on Justia Law

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Presidential immunity does not bar the enforcement of a state grand jury subpoena directing a third party to produce non‐privileged material, even when the subject matter under investigation pertains to the President. President Trump filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent the District Attorney of New York County from enforcing a grand jury subpoena served on a third-party custodian of the President's financial records. The district court dismissed the complaint under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), abstaining from exercising jurisdiction. In the alternative, the district court held that the President was not entitled to injunctive relief. The Second Circuit held that Younger abstention did not apply to the circumstances here, because the President raised novel and serious claims that were more appropriately adjudicated in federal court. The court held, however, that any presidential immunity from state criminal process did not extend to investigative steps like the grand jury subpoena in this case. Accordingly, the court affirmed as to the immunity question, vacated as to the Younger abstention issue, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Trump v. Vance" on Justia Law

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At issue are motions by several news organizations to intervene in a pending appeal and to unseal an unredacted letter filed by Deutsche Bank on August 27, 2019. Deutsche Bank filed the letter in an appeal from an order denying a preliminary injunction sought by President Trump and others to prevent compliance with subpoenas seeking production of numerous documents, including tax returns. The Second Circuit granted the motions to intervene, because news media have a right to intervene to seek unsealing of documents filed in a court proceeding. However, the court denied the motions for unsealing, because the sealed letter was not relevant to any issue in the underlying appeal and thus it was not a judicial document within the meaning of the decisions requiring unsealing of documents with a court. Furthermore, the letter was not a record of any court which, absent special circumstances, would be available for public scrutiny. View "Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG" on Justia Law

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The Times filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking five DOJ memoranda and accompanying exhibits. The requested documents detail DOJ's legal reasoning and factual analysis in making the determinations, first, that it would formally investigate only two of more than one hundred alleged instances of abuse of detainees allegedly held overseas in the custody of the CIA and that it would not bring criminal charges in either of the two cases. At issue are the two public statements made by the then-Attorney General Eric Holder. The district court granted The Times' motion for summary judgment, holding that Attorney General Holder's public statements expressly adopted the memoranda by relying on their reasoning. The Second Circuit held American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency, clarified that the "express adoption" exception to Exemption 5 does not apply in the instant context. The court also held that the government waived the privilege over the sections of the memoranda and exhibits relating to the conclusion that a number of the detainees investigated were not in CIA custody. Because Holder referenced this fact in both of his public statements, the court's holding applies to all five of the memoranda and associated exhibits. However, the court held that none of the remaining three statements at issue divulges the content of the memoranda with enough specificity to constitute waiver of the work product privilege. The court also held that Holder’s references to U.S. Attorney John Durham's reports, although clearly spoken with an intent to explain the Department's decision not to prosecute, did not constitute "testimonial use" of the reports and therefore did not waive the work product privilege over the documents. Furthermore, Holder's use of Durham's memoranda was not so unfair as to implicate the same concerns in John Doe Co. v. United States. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "The New York Times Co. v. United States Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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Owners and operators of businesses in the hospitality industry appealed the district court's dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction of their complaint, alleging that President Trump violated the Domestic and Foreign Emoluments Clauses of the United States Constitution. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that they have been and will be injured because foreign and domestic government entities that patronize Washington, D.C. and New York hotels, restaurants, and event spaces patronize Trump establishments in the hope of enriching the President and earning a reward from him through official Presidential action favorable to their governments. The Second Circuit vacated and held that the district court did not apply the law correctly in finding that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the case, and that plaintiffs satisfied all three prongs of Article III standing. The court held that plaintiffs adequately alleged an injury in fact, their injury was fairly traceable to President Trump, and their injury was redressable by injunctive relief. The court noted that the Fourth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion in a closely analogous case, but found its arguments to be unpersuasive. The court noted that whether a lawsuit has political motivations was irrelevant to the determinative issues. The court also held that the district court erred in dismissing the complaint on the theory that plaintiffs' injuries fall outside the zone of interests of the Emoluments Clauses. The court held that the zone of interests test does not, as the district court believed, implicate the district court's subject matter jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court's precedents make clear that plaintiffs' injuries were not outside the zone of interests of the Emoluments Clauses. Finally, the court found the district court's prudential considerations unpersuasive, disagreeing with the district court's determination that the case was non-justiciable and not ripe for adjudication. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Trump" on Justia Law