Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

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Petitioner asserted several constitutional and procedural claims related to his inclusion in the Terrorism Screening Database and its subclassification, the No Fly List. These are two governmental, interagency tools used to share information about suspected terrorists. The district court determined that Petitioner’s as-applied claims fell within 49 U.S.C. Section 46110’s grant of exclusive jurisdiction to the federal appellate courts over challenges to final Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) orders. So it transferred those claims to us under 28 U.S.C. Section 1631.   Petitioner moved to remand his claims to the district court, arguing it erred in finding that the Fourth Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction under Section 46110. The Fourth Circuit agreed with the government that a portion of Petitioner’s claims—those challenging his status on the No Fly List—is moot. But the court wrote it thinks it’s unclear which of Petitioner’s claims the district court intended to transfer under Section 1631. Thus the court vacated the transfer order and remanded to the district court with instructions to dismiss as moot Petitioner’s challenges to his status on the No Fly List; decide whether it has jurisdiction over the rest of Petitioner’s claims; and, if not, transfer them to the proper Circuit. View "Saadiq Long v. David Pekoske" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment consistent with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen, 597 U.S. (2022). View "KELLY ANN MCDOUGALL V. COUNTY OF VENTURA" on Justia Law

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In 2004, six men robbed a marijuana dealer, Thomas, at gunpoint in his home. Two of the robbers shot Thomas, who died. One of those shooters also shot Landon, Thomas’s business partner. Landon survived. Reyes was convicted of Thomas’s murder, Landon’s attempted murder, and home invasion. The state’s evidence against Reyes included Landon’s identification of Reyes as the shooter after viewing a photo array. It took the police five attempts to extract that identification from Landon; several times, he seemed to confuse Reyes with another man who was not a suspect in the robbery. Reyes moved, unsuccessfully, to suppress the identification.After Reyes exhausted state-court review, he sought federal collateral relief, 28 U.S.C. 2254, arguing that the identification procedure was impermissibly suggestive and that Landon’s identification was too unreliable to pass constitutional muster. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of his petition. While the identification procedure was unnecessarily suggestive, as noted by the state court, it did not taint the conviction. Error alone is not enough to entitle Reyes to relief. A section 2254 petitioner must also show prejudice. Reyes cannot because the jury that convicted him heard significant evidence of his guilt beyond the identification and had the opportunity to evaluate most of the evidence bearing on the reliability of the identification. View "Reyes v. Nurse" on Justia Law

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In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Port Authority, a municipal bus and light-rail operator, required its uniformed employees to wear face masks. Initially, Port Authority was unable to procure masks for all its employees, so they were required to provide their own. Some employees wore masks bearing political or social-protest messages. Port Authority has long prohibited its uniformed employees from wearing buttons “of a political or social protest nature.” Concerned that such masks would disrupt its workplace, Port Authority prohibited them in July 2020. When several employees wore masks expressing support for Black Lives Matter, Port Authority disciplined them. In September 2020, Port Authority imposed additional restrictions, confining employees to a narrow range of masks. The employees sued, alleging that Port Authority had violated their First Amendment rights.The district court entered a preliminary injunction rescinding discipline imposed under the July policy and preventing Port Authority from enforcing its policy against “Black Lives Matter” masks. The Third Circuit affirmed. The government may limit the speech of its employees more than it may limit the speech of the public, but those limits must still comport with the protections of the First Amendment. Port Authority bears the burden of showing that its policy is constitutional. It has not made that showing. View "Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 v. Port Authority of Allegheny County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the challenges brought by Salt Lake City to four provisions of the Utah Inland Port Authority Act, holding that the challenged zoning provisions did not violate the Utah Constitution.The Act requires that Salt Lake City, West Valley City, and Magna adopt specific zoning regulations and permissions favorable to developing an inland port in the area. Salt Lake brought this action alleging that four provisions of the Act violated the Utah Constitution's Uniform Operation of Laws and Ripper clauses. The district court rejected the City's claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the zoning provisions were rationally related to a legitimate legislative purpose and therefore did not violate the Uniform Operation of Laws Clause; and (2) the zoning provisions did not delegate municipal functions in violation of the Ripper Clause. View "Salt Lake City Corp. v. Inland Port Authority" on Justia Law

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In this case arising from House Bill 102 (HB 102), the Supreme Court held that the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education (Board) has the sole authority under the Montana Constitution to set policy regarding the possession of firearms on the Montana University System property.In 2021, the legislature enacted HB 102, which generally revised gun laws with respect to open and concealed carry of firearms. HB 102 also nullified a Board policy that limited the use of and access to firearms on campuses of the Montana University System (MUS). The district court concluded that HB 102 was unconstitutional as applied to the Board because it violated the Board's constitutional authority to regulate MUS campuses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) campus safety and security is an integral responsibility of the Board's constitutional authority; (2) the regulation of firearms on MUS campuses falls squarely within this authority; and (3) as applied to the Board, certain sections of HB 102 unconstitutionally infringe upon the Board's constitutionally-derived authority. View "Board of Regents of Higher Education v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant Brian Clarke was charged with one count of home invasion. He provided notice of his intent to present the affirmative defense of voluntary intoxication at trial. In response, the State filed a motion in limine seeking to prohibit defendant from asserting an intoxication defense because, in the State’s view, home invasion was a general intent crime. The trial court granted the State’s motion. The court of appeal granted defendant’s writ application, and found that home invasion was a specific intent crime to which defendant was entitled to present voluntary intoxication as an affirmative defense. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted defendant’s application to determine whether the court of appeal correctly found that voluntary intoxication was an affirmative defense to the crime of home invasion. Based on the clear language of the statute that defines the crime of home invasion, La.R.S. 14:62.8, the Supreme Court agreed with the court of appeal that specific intent was a necessary element of the offense. "Therefore, whether voluntary intoxication is sufficient to preclude specific intent in this case is a question to be resolved by the trier of fact." Accordingly, the trial court erred in granting the State’s motion in limine to prohibit defendant from asserting voluntary intoxication as an affirmative defense. View "Louisiana v. Clarke" on Justia Law

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Defendant Ladarious Brown was arrested for several offenses stemming from a domestic incident, but he was ultimately charged with two crimes: illegal use of weapons; and aggravated flight from an officer. A jury found defendant guilty as charged. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted defendant’s application to determine whether the court of appeal correctly applied Louisiana v. Mayeux, 498 So.2d 701 (La. 1986) in finding that defendant’s conviction for attempted aggravated flight from an officer was a nullity and therefore jeopardy had not attached. The Supreme Court found that it previously erred in its double jeopardy analysis in Mayeux, and the court of appeal erred here in deciding whether jeopardy had attached. Nevertheless, the court of appeal correctly vacated the conviction for attempted aggravated flight from an officer as a non-crime that was not responsive to the charge of aggravated flight from an officer. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal’s decision insofar as it found jeopardy had not attached, but otherwise affirmed the decision vacating the conviction for attempted aggravated flight from an officer. View "Louisiana v. Brown" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a 2016 road rage incident that led to the shooting death of Joseph McKnight. A grand jury indicted the defendant Ronald Gasser for second degree murder. The case proceeded to a trial before a twelve-person jury in January, 2018. The jury was presented with a verdict sheet listing the crime of second degree murder and three responsive verdicts: guilty of manslaughter, guilty of negligent homicide and not guilty. By a vote of ten to two, the jury convicted defendant of the lesser included offense of manslaughter and defendant was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment at hard labor. While defendant's appeal was pending, the United States Supreme Court rendered its opinion in Ramos v. Louisiana, 140 S.Ct. 1390 (2020), holding that non-unanimous jury verdicts in state felony cases were unconstitutional. The Louisiana Supreme Court then granted defendant’s writ application and remanded the case to the Court of Appeal for patent review based on Ramos. Thereafter, and in accordance with Ramos, the Fifth Circuit found that defendant’s non-unanimous verdict entitled him to a new trial, vacated defendant’s conviction and sentence, and remanded the case to the trial court. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari to review when a non-unanimous jury finds a defendant guilty of a lesser, statutorily responsive verdict to a charged offense, valid at the time of its rendering, if the conviction was later set aside as unconstitutional, did double jeopardy preclude the State from retrying the defendant on the originally charged offense? The lower courts found that it did, and the Supreme Court agreed: double jeopardy barred the reinstatement and retrial of a defendant on a higher charge when he was lawfully convicted of a lesser included offense, even though the conviction was later vacated. The Court further agreed with the lower courts that, in this case, defendant’s conviction of a lesser included offense operated as an implied acquittal of the higher charge. View "Louisiana v. Gasser" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of six offenses, including unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon in violation of Ind. Code 35-50-2-8, holding that none of Defendant's allegations of error required reversal.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in giving Preliminary Instruction 18, and that the error was fundamental. The court of appeals agreed and reversed. The Supreme Court granted transfer and affirmed, holding (1) Defendant invited any error that arose from Preliminary Instruction 18, which precluded relief on direct appeal; (2) the traffic stop leading to Defendant's arrest did not violate the Fourth Amendment; and (3) Defendant waived his last allegation of error. View "Miller v. State" on Justia Law