Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review, under the Administrative Procedure Act, of Regulation Best Interest, which creates new standards of conduct for broker-dealers providing investment services to retail customers. Petitioners claimed that Regulation Best Interest is unlawful under the 2010 Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The court held that Ford Financial Solutions has Article III standing to bring its petition for review. The court also held that the SEC lawfully promulgated Regulation Best Interest pursuant to Congress's permissive grant of rulemaking authority under Section 913(f) of the Dodd-Frank Act. Finally, the court held that Regulation Best Interest is not arbitrary and capricious, holding that the SEC's interpretation of the scope of the broker-dealer exemption was not so fundamental to Regulation Best Interest as to make the rule arbitrary and capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law. Furthermore, the SEC gave adequate reasons for its decision to prioritize consumer choice and affordability over the possibility of reducing consumer confusion, and it supported its findings with substantial evidence. View "XY Planning Network, LLC v. Securities Exchange Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in an action claiming that Connecticut's Public Act 17-2, as amended by Public Act 18-81, which transfers money from the state's legislatively created energy funds to the general purpose fund, violates the Contract and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that plaintiffs had no contractual right to prevent the transfer of money to the general purpose fund and that the Act is an allocation of state revenue, not a tax, so that the taxpayer standing doctrine bars plaintiffs' claim. In this case, plaintiffs do not have a contractual right to control transfers from the Energy Fund and thus plaintiffs have failed to plead a violation of the Contract Clause. The court also held that because the transfer of previously collected revenue from the Energy Funds to the General Fund is not a transfer of plaintiffs' property to the state, it cannot constitute a tax. The court explained that, at its core, plaintiffs' argument is that funds previously collected for green energy and conservation initiatives will now be expended for another use, but taxpayers do not have standing to challenge such expenditures. Therefore, the court held that plaintiffs have no standing to proceed with their Equal Protection claim. View "Colon de Mejias v. Lamont" on Justia Law

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The NRDC and the State of Vermont seek review of certain provisions of a rule promulgated by the EPA, pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act, that requires manufacturers to report information about their use of mercury. Specifically, petitioners argue that three exemptions for categories of manufacturers and importers are unlawful. The Second Circuit denied review of the exemption for manufacturers of assembled products with mercury-added components at 40 C.F.R. 713.7(b)(3) and the partial exemption for high-volume manufacturers at 40 C.F.R. 713.9(a). The court held that these exemptions are reasonable in light of Congress's directive to the EPA to avoid requiring duplicative or unnecessary reporting. However, the court granted review of and vacated the exemption for importers of assembled products with mercury-added components at 40 C.F.R. 713.7(b)(2), finding that the EPA failed to provide a reasoned explanation for this exemption. View "Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sought a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the Secret Service seeking visitor logs for the White House Complex and President Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. After the Secret Service denied the request, the district court agreed and refused to compel production of the withheld records. The district court also dismissed for want of subject matter jurisdiction plaintiffs' claims that an agreement between the Secret Service and the Executive Office of the President that allegedly governed the maintenance of the visitor logs violated the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and the Federal Records Act (FRA). The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that the visitor logs that plaintiffs seek are not agency records subject to FOIA. The court also held that plaintiffs failed to state a claim under the PRA or the FRA, because plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently to allege that the 2015 MOU prescribes recordkeeping practices that violate the FRA or PRA. Finally, plaintiffs' remaining arguments lack merit. The court denied plaintiffs' request to amend their complaint. View "Doyle v. US Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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Unions representing Nassau County employees filed suit against NIFA after it instituted a year-long wage freeze for all county employees. The unions alleged that the wage freeze, because it was a legislative act that was not reasonable and necessary to achieve NIFA's purported goal of fiscal soundness, violated the Contracts Clause of the United States Constitution. The district court held that NIFA's implementation of the wage freeze was administrative, rather than legislative, and granted summary judgment for defendants. The Second Circuit held that NIFA's wage freeze did not violate the Contracts Clause and affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment. The court assumed without deciding that NIFA's imposition of the wage freeze was legislative in nature, and held that the wage freeze was a reasonable and necessary means to achieve NIFA's asserted end of ensuring the continued fiscal health of the county. View "Sullivan v. Nassau County Interim Finance Authority" on Justia Law

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The Food Drug and Cosmetic Act's (FDCA) broad preemption clause, 21 U.S.C. 379s, bars plaintiffs from seeking to impose additional or different labeling requirements through their state-law claims, especially when Congress and the FDA already have provided for specific labeling requirements. Plaintiffs filed suit against L’Oréal, alleging common law claims for unjust enrichment and breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, as well as claims under eight state consumer protection statutes. Plaintiffs believed they were being deceived into buying more product, because a portion of each of the liquid cosmetics they purchased could not be extracted. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that plaintiffs' state law claims at issue are preempted by the FDCA. In this case, plaintiffs alleged that their injuries resulted from the fact that the labels of the various L’Oréal products omitted certain critical information—specifically, that the creams could not be fully dispensed from their respective containers. Plaintiffs also admit that the packages comply with federal labeling requirements. The court explained that, if plaintiffs were permitted to move forward with their claims, they would be using state law to impose labeling requirements on top of those already mandated in the FDCA and the regulations promulgated thereunder. View "Critcher v. L'Oreal USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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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