Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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Plaintiffs submitted rulemaking petitions to the FDA, FTC, AMS, and FSIS, requesting that each agency promulgate regulations that would require all egg cartons to identify the conditions in which the egglaying hens were kept during production. Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit claiming that each agency had acted arbitrarily and capriciously in dismissing their rulemaking petitions. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. The court concluded that the FSIS did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in denying plaintiffs' rulemaking petition where plaintiffs' proposed labeling regulations concern only shell eggs and thus fall outside of the FSIS's labeling jurisdiction under the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA), 21 U.S.C. 1031–56; the AMS also did not act arbitrarily or capriciously because the agency correctly concluded that it lacks the authority to promulgate mandatory labeling requirements for shell eggs; the FTC did not act arbitrarily or capriciously where the agency could not conclude that the potentially unfair or deceptive labeling practices plaintiffs challenge were "prevalent" as that term was used in the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), 15 U.S.C. 41-58, and the agency reasonably denied the petition based on its discretion to combat any potentially misleading egg labeling through ad hoc enforcement proceedings; and the FDA's explanation for denying plaintiffs' petition barely met its low burden of demonstrating that it considered the potential problem and providing a reasonable explanation of its decision. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Compassion Over Killing v. FDA" on Justia Law

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Washington and Minnesota filed suit challenging President Trump's Executive Order 13769 which, among other changes to immigration policies and procedures, bans for 90 days the entry into the United States of individuals from seven countries, suspends for 120 days the United States Refugee Admissions Program, and suspends indefinitely the entry of all Syrian refugees. In this emergency proceeding, the Government moves for an emergency stay of the district court's temporary restraining order while its appeal of that order proceeds. The court noted the extraordinary circumstances of this case and determined that the district court's order possesses the qualities of an appealable preliminary injunction. The court held that the States have made a sufficient showing to support standing, at least at this preliminary stage of the proceedings, where they argued that the Executive Order causes a concrete and particularized injury to their public universities, which the parties do not dispute are branches of the States under state law. The court concluded that there is no precedent to support the Government's position that the President's decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections. The court explained that the Government's claim runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy. Therefore, although courts owe considerable deference to the President's policy determinations with respect to immigration and national security, it is beyond question that the federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action. The court concluded that the Government has not shown that it is likely to succeed on the merits regarding its argument about, at least, the States' Due Process Clause claim, and the court noted the serious nature of the allegations the States have raised with respect to their religious discrimination claims. The court held that the procedural protections provided by the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause are not limited to citizens; rather, they apply to all persons within the United States, including aliens, regardless of whether their presence here is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent. Finally, the balance of hardships and the public interest do not favor a stay. Accordingly, the court denied the emergency motion for a stay pending appeal. View "State of Washington v. Trump" on Justia Law

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After DEA agents seized $99,500 in cash from plaintiff's carry-on bag at San Francisco International Airport, the DEA sent plaintiff a notice on May 1, 2013, informing plaintiff that the money was subject to forfeiture under 21 U.S.C. 881 as a result of a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The notice stated that June 5, 2013 was the deadline to file a contest of the forfeiture. On June 4th, 2013, plaintiff's attorney tendered plaintiff's claim to FedEx for overnight delivery to the DEA, but the DEA did not receive the claim until June 6th. Plaintiff eventually filed a motion for return of property under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g), arguing that the DEA had wrongfully deemed his claim untimely and that the district court should exercise its equitable jurisdiction to toll the filing deadline. The district court held that it had equitable jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's motion, but denied plaintiff's motion on the merits. The court treated section 983(e) of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA), 18 U.S.C. 983(e), as a claim-processing rule. In this case, the district court correctly determined that it had jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's motion for equitable relief because there is no clear jurisdictional limitation to CAFRA. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to meet his burden of establishing that he pursued his rights diligently and that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of the motion. View "Okafor v. United States" on Justia Law

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Petitioner seeks review of the NTSB's decision affirming the FAA's order revoking his aircraft registration certificate. After petitioner admitted to the FAA that he used his aircraft to transport marijuana, the FAA revoked his registration certificate because “the aircraft was used to carry out, or facilitate, an activity that is punishable” as a drug-related felony. 49 U.S.C. 44106(b)(1)(A). Separate, state court criminal proceedings against defendant were dismissed after the trial court suppressed the drug evidence found on his plane. The court concluded that, under the statute’s plain language, the proper inquiry is whether the “activity” is “punishable,” not whether the certificate holder is at risk of being punished. In this case, because the activity—transporting marijuana—was punishable as a felony, the court concluded that defendant's certificate was properly revoked even though he may no longer be subject to punishment under state law. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Connors v. NTSB" on Justia Law

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Appellants appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellees on Appellants' claims under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321. Appellants argue that Appellees' environment impact analysis for a new underground light rail line project in downtown Los Angeles was inadequate. As a preliminary matter, the court declined to take judicial notice of the three documents on Metro’s website. The court declined to consider Japanese Village’s argument that the mitigation monitoring and report plan (MMRP) was not properly attached to the Record of Decision (ROD). The court rejected Japanese Village's challenges to the adequacy of the mitigation plan included in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) regarding construction-related noise and vibration; operational noise and vibration; subsidence; and parking. The court also rejected Bonaventure's claims that Appellees (1) failed to analyze Closed-Face TBM construction as a reasonable alternative tunneling method for the Lower Flower portion of the Project in the FEIS; (2) failed to adequately analyze certain impacts and impermissibly deferred certain mitigation analyses in the FEIS; and (3) failed to prepare a Supplemental EIS to analyze nighttime construction. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Japanese Village, LLC v. FTA" on Justia Law

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Leslie Feldman and others filed suit challenging Arizona House Bill 2023 (H.B. 2023), which precludes individuals who do not fall into one of several exceptions (e.g., election officials, mail carriers, family members, household members, and specified caregivers) from collecting early ballots from another person. Plaintiff argues that this state statute violates section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 52 U.S.C. 10301, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the First Amendment because, among other things, it disproportionately and adversely impacts minorities, unjustifiably burdens the right to vote, and interferes with the freedom of association. The district court denied plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction and plaintiff filed this emergency interlocutory appeal. The court concluded that it has jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(1). The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding plaintiff was unlikely to succeed on her Voting Rights Act claim. In this case, the district court did not clearly err in concluding that plaintiff adduced no evidence showing that H.B. 2023 would have an impact on minorities different than the impact on non-minorities, let alone that the impact would result in less opportunity for minorities to participate in the political process as compared to non-minorities. The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err in finding that H.B. 2023 imposed a minimal burden on voters’ Fourteenth Amendment right to vote, in finding that Arizona asserted sufficiently weighty interests justifying the limitation, and in ultimately concluding that plaintiff failed to establish that she was likely to succeed on the merits of her Fourteenth Amendment challenge. The court also concluded that ballot collection is not expressive conduct implicating the First Amendment, but even if it were, Arizona has an important regulatory interest justifying the minimal burden that H.B. 2023 imposes on freedom of association. Therefore, the district court did not err in concluding that the plaintiff was unlikely to succeed on the merits of her First Amendment claim. In this case, plaintiff is not only unlikely to prevail on the merits, but, as the district court concluded, her interest in avoiding possible irreparable harm does not outweigh Arizona’s and the public’s mutual interests in the enforcement of H.B. 2023 pending final resolution of this case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. View "Feldman v. Arizona Secretary of State's Office" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are two members of the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), a human rights and advocacy group dedicated to monitoring the United States Army School of the Americas (SOA) graduates and lobbying for closure of the school. At issue in this appeal is whether the names of foreign students and instructors at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) are exempt from disclosure under Exemption 6 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(6). The court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to plaintiffs, concluding that the disclosure of these names would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. View "Cameranesi v. U.S. Dep't of Defense" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are Hawaiian residents who challenge the recent efforts by a group of Native Hawaiians to establish their own government. Plaintiffs challenge the district court’s order denying their request for a preliminary injunction to stop activities related to the drafting and ratification of self-governance documents. Separately, another group of Hawaii residents appeals the district court’s denial of their motion to intervene in plaintiffs’ lawsuit. Before the district court, plaintiffs focused their injunction request on the delegation election. That election, however, has been cancelled, and plaintiffs do not argue that similar elections will occur in the future. The court affirmed the dismissal of the interlocutory appeal as moot, concluding that there is no reasonable expectation that plaintiffs will be subject to the same injury again, given the disavowal of any election. Further, the district court retains jurisdiction over the underlying lawsuit, and dismissing the preliminary injunction appeal will not, by itself, insulate defendants’ practices from judicial scrutiny. The court also affirmed the district court's order denying intervention as of right where the court agreed with the district court that the prospective intervenors’ interests would not, as a practical matter, be impaired or impeded as a result of plaintiffs’ litigation. The district court properly reasoned that the prospective intervenors’ claims would raise entirely different issues from those raised by plaintiffs, and that the proposed intervenors could adequately protect their interests in separate litigation. View "Akina v. Hawaii" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action filed against DSHS by plaintiff. At issue is whether the Due Process Clause compels the state to perform a competency evaluation of pretrial detainees within seven days of a court order requiring evaluation. The district court addressed both initial competency evaluations and the mental health restoration services that follow a determination of incompetency to stand trial and concluded that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that services for both categories must be provided within seven days of a court order, absent an individualized determination of clinical good cause. The district court entered a permanent injunction to this effect, although Washington appeals only that portion related to initial competency evaluations. The court agreed with the district court that DSHS must conduct competency evaluations within a reasonable time following a court’s order. The district court’s seven-day mandate, however, imposes a temporal obligation beyond what the Constitution requires. Therefore, the court vacated the injunction with respect to the seven-day requirement for in-jail competency evaluations and remanded to the district court to amend the injunction. View "Trueblood V. WSDSHS" on Justia Law

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Chance Gordon, a licensed California attorney, appealed the district court's order of summary judgment for the CFPB on its enforcement action for violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, 12 U.S.C. 5531, 5536, and Regulation O, 12 C.F.R. 1015.1-11. On January 4, 2012, President Obama, relying on his recess-appointment power, named Richard Cordray as the CFPB’s initial Director. President Obama renominated Cordray as Director on January 24, 2013. The parties agree that while Cordray’s initial January 2012 recess appointment was invalid, his July 2013 confirmation was valid. The court concluded that, while the failure to have a properly confirmed director may raise Article II Appointments Clause issues, it does not implicate the court's Article III jurisdiction to hear this case. That its director was improperly appointed does not alter the Executive Branch’s interest or power in having federal law enforced. The subsequent valid appointment, coupled with Cordray’s August 30, 2013 ratification, cures any initial Article II deficiencies. Because the CFPB had the authority to bring the action at the time Gordon was charged, Cordray’s August 2013 ratification, done after he was properly appointed as Director, resolves any Appointments Clause deficiencies. On the merits, the court concluded that CFPB is entitled to summary judgment on all counts because there is no dispute as to material fact regarding Gordon's liability. Because the district court conscientiously tailored the injunction at issue, it did not abuse its discretion in granting equitable judgment. However, because the district court may have impermissibly entered a monetary judgment against Gordon for a time period prior to the enactment or effective date of the relevant provisions of the CFPA and Regulation O, the court vacated and remanded for further consideration. View "Consumer Fin. Prot. Bureau v. Gordon" on Justia Law