Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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Defendants appealed the district court's judgment certifying a plaintiff class and enjoining state defendants from conducting Medicaid fair hearings in a manner that does not result in final determinations of Medicaid eligibility within 90 days of hearing requests. At issue is the phrase "final administrative action" in the context of a federal Medicaid regulation that requires a state agency to take such action within a specified time limit following a Medicaid applicant's request for a fair hearing. 42 C.F.R. 431.244(f).The Second Circuit held that the federal regulatory requirement of "final administrative action" within 90 days requires the state to determine Medicaid eligibility within that time. However, the court explained that such determinations may be made in hearing decisions or on remand to local agencies. Therefore, the regulation mandates that states meet the applicable deadline, but it does not limit states as to the administrative level at which that deadline is met. The court affirmed in part and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lisnitzer v. Zucker" on Justia Law

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Everytown sought disclosure pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of certain data stored in the FTS database maintained by the ATF. The ATF denied Everytown's FOIA request on the grounds that appropriations riders known as the Tiahrt Riders exempt FTS data from FOIA disclosure, and properly responding to Everytown's FOIA request would require the ATF to create records. The district court granted summary judgment for Everytown.The Second Circuit reversed, holding that a prior statute cannot prevent a later-enacted statute from having effect. The court explained that if the plain import or fair implication of the 2012 Tiahrt Rider is to exempt FTS data from FOIA disclosure, the statute must be given effect even if it does not meet the requirements of the OPEN FOIA Act. In light of the statutory text and history, the court concluded that the 2012 Tiahrt Rider exempts FTS data from FOIA disclosure and that the exemption applies to the data Everytown seeks. Consequently, the court need not address whether Everytown's FOIA request required the ATF to create records. The court remanded with instructions to enter judgment for the ATF. View "Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Wilmington Savings in an action seeking to quiet title and discharge a mortgage under New York law. Windward Bora argues that New York's six-year statute of limitations has expired as to any foreclosure action under the mortgage and Wilmington Savings argues that it is immune from this statute of limitations by virtue of its status as an assignee of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).The court joined its sister circuits in concluding that assignees of the federal government are entitled to its immunity from state statutes of limitations. These courts generally reason, and this court found persuasive, that under traditional common law principles governing assignments, "the assignee of the United States stands in the shoes of the United States and is entitled to rely on the limitations periods prescribed by federal law." Moreover, this result is warranted "because it improves the marketability of instruments held by the United States, thereby giving the United States greater flexibility in monetizing its claims." The court also concluded that Wilmington Savings is entitled to such immunity here and rejected Windward Bora's contentions to the contrary. In this case, Wilmington Savings' status as a HUD assignee offers a sufficient basis for affirming the district court's conclusion that Wilmington Savings is immune from the state limitations period. View "Windward Bora, LLC v. Wilmington Savings Fund Society" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the Clerk of Erie County, filed suit alleging that he could be prosecuted under federal immigration law for performing certain duties under New York's Driver's License Access and Privacy Act (the "Green Light Law"), which establishes certain policies and procedures related to standard licenses. The Green Light Law directs the New York State DMV to accept various foreign documents as proof of identification and age for standard licenses, and prohibits DMV from inquiring about the immigration status of standard-license applicants; restricts DMV’s retention and use of certain applicant information; and requires that within three days of receiving a request for information or records from federal immigration authorities, DMV provide written notification to the subject of the request and inform the person of the identity of the requesting agency. New York law designates certain county clerks as agents of the DMV Commissioner and assigns them discrete functions in that regard. Plaintiff challenges the licensing, nondisclosure, and notification provisions of the Green Light Law.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit based on lack of Article III standing, holding that compliance with the state law would not expose plaintiff to a credible threat of prosecution under federal law. The court explained that the REAL ID Act permits states to issue noncompliant licenses provided that they meet certain requirements, which do not include the verification of lawful status. Furthermore, 6 C.F.R. 16 37.71(a), promulgated by DHS, permits states that issue REAL ID Act-compliant licenses also to issue licenses "that are not acceptable by Federal agencies for official purposes," provided they meet certain requirements. The court concluded that the theory that issuing standard licenses constitutes criminal harboring is directly at odds with federal law that expressly permits the issuance of such licenses, and thus plaintiff lacks standing to challenge the licensing provisions of the Green Light Law. The court also concluded that plaintiff lacks standing to challenge the nondisclosure and notification provisions of the Green Light Law. Finally, the court concluded that the threat that plaintiff will be removed from office is speculative. For largely the same reasons that he lacks standing in his individual capacity, plaintiff lacks standing in his official capacity. The court considered plaintiff's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "Kearns v. Cuomo" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit originally resolved the motions that are the subject of this opinion in an order entered November 9, 2020. Except in unusual circumstances, the court resolves such motions by order, not opinion. The court converted the original order and the dissent into opinions per the dissent's request.These appeals challenge Governor Andrew Cuomo's issuance of an executive order directing the New York State Department of Health to identify yellow, orange, and red "zones" based on the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks and imposing correspondingly severe restrictions on activity within each zone. Appellants, Agudath Israel and the Diocese, each challenged the executive order as a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. After the district court denied appellants' motion for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the order, appellants moved for emergency injunctions pending appeal and to expedite their appeals.Preliminarily, the Second Circuit concluded that Agudath Israel did not move first in the district court for an order granting an injunction while an appeal is pending before filing with this court its present motion for an injunction pending appeal. Rather, Agudath Israel moved for a preliminary injunction pending the district court’s final judgment. Furthermore, Agudath Israel has not explained or otherwise justified its failure to comply with the straightforward requirement of Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 8(a). Agudath Israel has also failed to demonstrate that moving first in the district court would be impracticable, or even futile, particularly in light of the fact that a full eleven days elapsed after the district court's ruling before Agudath Israel sought relief from this court. Therefore, the court denied Agudath Israel's motion for procedural reasons.The court also denied the Diocese's motion, concluding that appellants cannot clear the high bar necessary to obtain an injunction pending appeal. The court stated that, while it is true that the challenged order burdens appellants' religious practices, the order is not substantially underinclusive given its greater or equal impact on schools, restaurants, and comparable secular public gatherings. To the contrary, the executive order extends well beyond isolated groups of religious adherents to encompass both secular and religious conduct. View "Agudath Israel of America v. Cuomo" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the government defendants in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) action brought by plaintiff, seeking documents related to the revocation of his visa.The court held that the contested documents were properly withheld under FOIA Exemption 3, and specifically INA 222(f), because they pertain to the issuance and refusal of a visa. Furthermore, officials properly invoked Exemption 3 to withhold revocation documents as they are related to visa issuances and refusals. Finally, plaintiff failed to meet his burden of demonstrating that the records are needed by a court "in the interest of the ends of justice," and the discretionary release of records under 8 U.S.C. 1202(f)(1) provides no basis for disclosure in this FOIA action. For the reasons set forth in a separate summary order addressing FOIA Exemption 5 filed simultaneously with this opinion, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Spadaro v. United States Customs and Border Protection" on Justia Law

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President Trump filed suit against the District Attorney of the County of New York, alleging that a grand jury subpoena issued on August 29, 2019 by the District Attorney to Mazars USA, LLP, the President's accounting firm, is overbroad and was issued in bad faith. The subpoena directed Mazars to produce financial documents—including tax returns—relating to the President, the Trump Organization, and affiliated entities, dating back to 2011. The district court granted the District Attorney's motion to dismiss the second amended complaint based on failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).The Second Circuit affirmed, finding that the claim of overbreadth is not plausibly alleged for two interrelated reasons. First, the court concluded that the President's bare assertion that the scope of the grand jury's investigation is limited only to certain payments made by Michael Cohen in 2016 amounts to nothing more than implausible speculation. Second, the court concluded that, without the benefit of this linchpin assumption, all other allegations of overbreadth—based on the types of documents sought, the types of entities covered, and the time period covered by the subpoena, as well as the subpoena's near identity to a prior Congressional subpoena—fall short of meeting the plausibility standard. Finally, the court concluded that the President's allegations of bad faith fail to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued out of malice or intent to harass. The court considered the President's remaining contentions on appeal and found no basis for reversal. The court ordered an interim stay of enforcement of the subpoena under the terms agreed to by the parties. View "Trump v. Vance" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the NHTSA's final rule, which reversed the agency's 2016 increase to the base rate of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) penalty. The court held that the CAFE penalty is a civil monetary penalty under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act. Consequently, NHTSA did not act in accordance with law when it reached the contrary conclusion in its 2019 Final Rule and reversed its initial catch-up inflation adjustment.The court also held that the NHTSA's reconsideration of the economic effects of its initial rule was untimely and therefore unauthorized. In this case, the Improvements Act provided a limited window of time for NHTSA to reduce the initial catch-up inflation adjustment to the CAFE penalty based on a conclusion that the increase would have a negative economic impact. However, by 2019, that window had closed and the agency acted in excess of its authority when it reconsidered and reversed its prior increase of the CAFE penalty based on an assessment of economic consequences. Accordingly, the court vacated the rule. View "New York v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a motion brought by unions representing uniformed New York City officers to stay, pending appeal the district court's July 29, 2020 order modifying the district court's July 22, 2020 order such that the order no longer applies to non-party NYCLU. This dispute arose out of the action of the New York legislature repealing section 50-a of the State's Civil Rights Law, which had shielded from public disclosure personnel records of various uniformed officers including police officers. The court stated that the effect of the modification is to permit the NYCLU publicly to disclose information concerning disciplinary records of approximately 81,000 New York City police officers, records alleged to contain unsubstantiated and nonfinal allegations.The court held that the district court properly excluded the NYCLU from the disclosure prohibition under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d)(2)(C) because it was not "in active concert" with a party bound by a TRO or a preliminary injunction. The court explained that the NYCLU could not be "in active concert" with such a party because it lawfully gained access to the information at issue before the July 22 disclosure prohibition was issued against it and obviously could not have known of a prohibition that did not then exist. Therefore, because appellants had no probability of success on the appeal from the July 29 order, the court denied the motion for a stay pending appeal, thereby terminating the emergency stay that a judge of this court had entered pending consideration of the stay motion by a three-judge panel. View "Uniformed Fire Officers Ass'n v. DeBlasio" on Justia Law

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The Department of State cannot revoke a citizen's United States passport on the ground that he concealed his identity in applying for the passport, where the citizen makes a statement that prior to his naturalization he was known by another name but he applied for, and was issued, his passport using his uncontested legal name.Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his Administrative Procedure Act (APA) suit challenging the Department's revocation of his passport. The district court dismissed the complaint after determining that the revocation of plaintiff's passport was neither arbitrary nor capricious, and did not violate Due Process.The Second Circuit reversed the district court's judgment and found that plaintiff could not have fraudulently obtained his passport when he used the name and birthdate denoted on his unchallenged immigration and citizenship documents, including his certificate of naturalization. The court reversed the Department's final decision upholding the passport revocation and ordered the Department to return plaintiff's expired passport so that he may apply for a new United States passport if he so chooses. View "Alzokari v. Pompeo" on Justia Law