Findlaw Case Summaries: Constitutional Law 23

September 7-11, 2009.

To view the full-text of cases you must sign in to All summaries are produced by Findlaw.

U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, September 11, 2009 US v. Piza-Blondet, No. 08-2263
In condemnation proceedings involving a 34 acre parcel used by the Federal Aviation Administration for aircraft navigation, the district court’s judgment is affirmed where the district court: 1) did not abuse its discretion in excluding defendant’s own testimony when the court had excluded similar testimony by defendant’s expert; 2) did not err in holding that the “before and after” method was appropriate in valuing the property, assuming a partial taking; and 3) did not err in submitting to the jury unity of use. Defendant’s remaining contentions were without merit.

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 11, 2009 Thompson v. Bell, No. 06-5744 In habeas proceedings arising from petitioner’s capital murder conviction, district court’s denial of relief is affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded where: 1) district court’s denial of defendant’s Rule 60(b) motion is reversed and remanded with instructions for the district court to first rule on the merits of defendant’s remaining ineffective assistance claims, while only addressing the incompetency question if it rejects the ineffective assistance claims on the merits; 2) the case is remanded to conduct defendant’s incompetency hearing and decide the merits of his incompetency claim de novo because the Tennessee courts unreasonably applied federal law clearly established by Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399, (1986); and 3) district court’s dismissal of defendant’s chemical competency claim is affirmed without prejudice to defendant raising a chemical competency claim in the future should he be forcibly medicated.

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 08, 2009 Harper v. Sheriff of Cook County, No. 08-3413 District court’s certification of a class action lawsuit involving challenges to the constitutionality of certain intake procedures at a county jail is vacated as the intake procedures detainees are required to undergo on remand to the Sheriff’s custody after a probable cause hearing are an individual issue and thus, not appropriate for class disposition. The matter is remanded for resolution of plaintiff’s individual claims.

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 10, 2009 New Albany DVD, LLC v. City of New Albany, Indiana, No. 05-1286 In plaintiff’s suit under 42 U.S.C. section 1993 against the city of New Albany that its ordinance regulating adult establishments violates his First Amendment rights, district court’s judgment is reversed and remanded where the injunction remains but should not have been issued on the ground that the ordinance is not narrowly tailored. Therefore, on remand, the court should take evidence of secondary effects caused by adult establishments that only carry books and DVDs and apply intermediate scrutiny to the ordinance.

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 11, 2009 Bissessur v. Undiana Univ. Bd. of Trustees, No. 08-3504 Dismissal of plaintiff’s action against the Indiana University School of Optometry arising from his expulsion from the school is affirmed as the court correctly concluded that plaintiff failed to point to any specific promise that the university made which established that plaintiff might have had an entitlement to a continuing education or any other entitlement. As such, plaintiff’s complaint failed to contain enough information to state a legally cognizable claim.

U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 10, 2009 Van Wyhe v. Reisch, No. 08-1409 In a prisoners’ action against South Dakota prison officials claiming violations of their free exercise of religion under the First Amendment and Section 3 of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), the court has jurisdiction to consider legal issues of whether Section 3 of RLUIPA is constitutional under Congress’ Spending Clause authority and whether the state waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity from monetary damages by accepting federal funds under RLUIPA because the issues are intertwined with the district court’s denial of sovereign immunity. The court also has jurisdiction to consider the merits of RLUIPA and First Amendment claims regarding the succah, the tape player, the additional time, and the retaliation claims only to the extent that they turn on issues of law. The district court’s judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part where: 1) district court correctly concluded that Section 3 of RLUIPA is a constitutional exer! cise of legislative authority under the Spending Clause; 2) district court’s denial of prison officials’ motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff Van Whye’s suit is reversed and remanded with directions to enter judgment in favor of defendants on the RLUIPA official-capacity claims as South Dakota did not waive immunity from suit for monetary damages by accepting funds under the conditions set forth in Section 3 of the RLUIPA; 3) prison officials are entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff Sisney’s official-capacity RLUIPA claims for money damages; 4) defendants are entitled to summary judgment on the the claims for injunctive relief by Sisney as he failed to show the officials’ decisions on issues relating to the use of succah and tape player and for additional study time substantially burdened his religious exercise; 5) First Amendment claims failed with respect to the group study time and the tape player, but the court lacked jurisdiction to consider the court’s ref! usal to grant the jail officials’ motion for summary judgment ! on the s uccah issue because there were material questions of fact in dispute and the issue could not be considered in this interlocutory appeal; and 6) retaliation claims would not be considered on interlocutory appeal because of the exercise of genuine fact disputes.

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 08, 2009 Nurre v. Whitehead, No. 07-35867 In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action challenging under the First Amendment a high school’s decision that a music piece could not be played at a graduation ceremony because it could be seen as endorsing religion, judgment for defendants is affirmed where the district’s action in keeping all musical performances at graduation entirely secular in nature was reasonable in light of the circumstances surrounding a high school graduation, and therefore it did not violate plaintiff’s right to free speech. .

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 09, 2009 Los Angeles v. Kern, No. 07-56564 In a dormant Commerce Clause action by recyclers challenging a local ordinance banning a particular method of waste disposal, summary judgment for plaintiffs is reversed in part with instructions to dismiss where the recyclers’ injury was not even marginally related to the interests the Commerce Clause seeks to safeguard. The ruling is vacated and remanded in part where the circuit court’s dismissal of the federal constitutional claim might materially alter the district court’s decision to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ preemption claim. .

U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, September 08, 2009 Nat’l. Ass’n of Mfrs. v. Taylor, No. 08-5085 In a First Amendment challenge to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, judgment for defendants is affirmed where: 1) the government had a compelling interest in providing the public and its elected representatives with information regarding who was being hired, who was putting up the money, and how much they were spending to influence public officials; and 2) the statute effectively advanced that interest

Contact Information