Findlaw Case Summaries: Constitutional Law 38

Constitutional Law

United States Second Circuit, 09/14/2010
Chase Grp. Alliance LLC v. N.Y. Dep’t of Fin.
In an action claiming that plaintiffs’ right to due process was violated by liens placed upon their properties by the City of New York, dismissal of the action is affirmed where the complaint alleged that New York law afforded appellants a right to notice and access to a tribunal to assert their objections before the liens were imposed, and thus, appellants’ right to due process was not violated. ..

United States Second Circuit, 09/17/2010
Faghri v. Univ. of Conn.
In an action claiming that defendants unconstitutionally retaliated against plaintiff for his exercise of his right to free speech in violation of the First Amendment and violated his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment when they removed him from his position as dean, a denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity is reversed where plaintiff had no clearly established right to remain as dean while voicing opposition to the policies of the team he was hired to be part of.

United States Second Circuit, 09/17/2010
Van Allen v. Cuomo
In an action challenging New York Election Law sections 5-210 and 5-304, which prevented plaintiff’s enrollment in a party from becoming effective until after the November 2007 general election, dismissal of the complaint is affirmed where plaintiff did not indicate that he currently intended or had already attempted to change his party enrollment again, and thus his claims were moot.

United States Third Circuit, 09/13/2010
Betts v. New Castle Youth Dev. Ctr.
In plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against a state-run juvenile detention center and several of its staff members, claiming various constitutional violations for sustaining a tragic spinal cord injury while attempting to make a tackle during a “pick-up” football at the center, district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants is affirmed where: 1) district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the center and its staff in their official capacities is affirmed because the center is an arm of the state entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity; 2) district court’s grant of summary judgment for the individual defendants on the merits of plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim is affirmed because plaintiff has failed to show a substantial risk of serious harm that violates contemporary standards of decency and failed to show deliberate indifference; and 3) the court’s adoption of the more-specific-provision rule obviates the need to address plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claims. .

United States Fifth Circuit, 09/13/2010
In re: Cao
In an action brought by the national political party committee of the Republican Party claiming that certain provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) violated plaintiffs’ right to free speech under the First Amendment, judgment for defendant-FEC is affirmed where each of the challenged FECA provisions constituted a constitutionally permissible regulation of political parties’ campaign contributions and coordinated expenditures.

United States Sixth Circuit, 09/15/2010
Holzemer v. City of Memphis
In plaintiffs’ suit against a city, a police sergeant and various city officials under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 for alleged violations of First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, district court’s denial of the sergeant’s motion for qualified immunity from the plaintiffs’ First Amendment retaliation claim is affirmed where: 1) plaintiff’s request for help from a city councilman regarding difficulties that he was having operating his business constitutes a “petition” for the purposes of the First Amendment’s Petition Clause, as there is no distinction between oral and written grievance when what was requested orally would constitute a petition if reduced to writing; 2) plaintiffs produced evidence sufficient, if true, to support a claim of retaliation for exercising their right to petition; and 3) the sergeant is not entitled to qualified immunity as officers of reasonable competence in the sergeant’s shoes would have known that her actions, if as alleged, were unlawful retaliation. .

United States Seventh Circuit, 09/16/2010
US v. Sanders
Conviction of defendant for violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) by traveling in interstate commerce without updating his sex offender registration is affirmed as defendant’s argument, that the registration requirement imposed by SORNA was beyond the power of Congress to enact because it applies even to those individuals convicted to local offenses having no connection to interstate or foreign commerce, is rejected. ..

United States Ninth Circuit, 09/14/2010
Dunn v. Castro
In a challenge to a restriction that was temporarily imposed on plaintiff’s right to receive visits from his three minor children while he was in prison, the denial of defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint is reversed where a reasonable prison official could have believed that terminating plaintiff’s right to receive visits from his children was lawful, in light of clearly established law and the information he possessed.

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