Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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The ACRU filed suit alleging that defendant, the former Broward County Supervisor of Elections, failed to satisfy her list-maintenance obligations under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The Eleventh Circuit held that, under the NVRA, the states and their subsidiaries are required to conduct a general program of list maintenance that makes a reasonable effort to remove voters who become ineligible on account of death or change of residence, and only on those two accounts. The court also held that nothing in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) changes what is required by the NVRA. Finally, the court held that the NVRA sets forth an explicit safe-harbor procedure by which the states may fulfill their list-maintenance obligations as to voters who move. In this case, the district court did not clearly err by finding that defendant's Election Supervisor conducted a program reasonably designed to accomplish these tasks required under the NVRA. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "American Civil Rights Union v. Snipes" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit denied petitioner's application seeking an order authorizing the district court to consider a second or successive petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Petitioner claimed that he is intellectually disabled and thus ineligible for the death penalty. The court held that petitioner failed to make a prima facie showing that his claim satisfied the requirements of 28 U.S.C. 2244(b)(2), because petitioner failed to rely on a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable, because all the cases he relies on were either previously available to him or were not made retroactive to cases on collateral review. The court also denied petitioner's emergency motion to stay his execution. View "In re: Gary Ray Bowles" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was arrested for simple battery following an altercation with her sister, she filed suit against Deputy McDonough, alleging the violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. The district court granted summary judgment for the deputy. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed and held that the deputy had ample probable cause to arrest plaintiff where the underlying information indicating that she had battered her sister was credible and his investigation was sufficient. The court also held that the deputy did not use excessive force in making the arrest by pulling plaintiff's arms, cinching the handcuffs too tight, or tugging on her fingers and arms to remove her rings. View "Huebner v. Bradshaw" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit denied the motion for stay of execution pending appeal, holding that the district court rightly dismissed petitioner's current petition as second or successive under 28 U.S.C. 2244(b)(3)(A). In this case, petitioner failed to obtain authorization from this court before filing the petition. The court rejected petitioner's remaining three claims as to why his petition should not be dismissed, and held that petitioner failed to show a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of his appeal. View "Bowles v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an involuntarily committed inmate, filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action claiming that FCCC's policies violated his expressive freedoms under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Applying the four factor test in Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89–90 (1987), the Fifth Circuit held that the FCCC's ban of plaintiff's newsletter was reasonably related to the substantial government interest of security and safety that was unrelated to the suppression of expression. The three other factors also weigh in favor of FCCC where plaintiff has alternative means of exercising his asserted right; allowing residents to read the newsletter could increase tension and hostility, potentially resulting in inmate-on-staff violence; and the ban was not an exaggerated response to FCCC's security concerns. The court also held that the 2006 page-limit policy did not violate plaintiff's First Amendment rights where it clearly related to FCCC's legitimate interest in conserving resources. View "Pesci v. Budz" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the City of LaGrange did not enjoy state-action immunity when it ties its water-utility service to its natural-gas service for customers in unincorporated Troup County, Georgia. In this case, the Georgia legislature could have foreseen that cities would use their water monopoly to increase their share of an unrelated market and that such an anticompetitive move was not the inherent, logical, or ordinary result of the legislative scheme. Therefore, the district court correctly denied the City's motion to dismiss for state-action immunity and the court affirmed the district court's judgment in this interlocutory appeal. View "Diverse Power, Inc. v. City of LaGrange" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's stay of execution, holding that 18 U.S.C. 3599 did not create a right that was enforceable under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the states. Plaintiff wanted to pursue his 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim that Florida interfered with his right under section 3599 to have attorneys in the Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) of the Federal Public Defender's Office represent him before the Florida Clemency Commission and Board. Therefore, because plaintiff sought to enforce a right under section 1983 that Congress did not make enforceable against the states, he failed to show a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of his section 1983 claim before the district court. Consequently, he failed to show a substantial likelihood of success on his appeal of the district court's denial of his motion to stay his execution. Finally, the court held that plaintiff failed to show that he was otherwise entitled to the stay. View "Bowles v. Desantis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the City, the police department, and others, alleging claims of disability and/or racial or gender discrimination. In regard to the disability discrimination claim, the Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to meet her prima facie burden of demonstrating that she was actually disabled, but was sufficient on whether she was regarded as disabled; the district court erred in holding that plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence that she was a qualified individual; plaintiff met her prima facie burden of demonstrating that the city discriminated against her because of her perceived disability; and plaintiff produced sufficient evidence that she was not a direct threat. In regard to the race and gender discrimination claims, the court held that the evidence of arbitrary personnel decisions surrounding plaintiff's termination, the pretextual justifications offered for the same, the differing treatment of her white male colleagues, and other evidence amounted to sufficient circumstantial evidence to create a triable issue of material fact on whether the police department's actions were discriminatory on the basis of race and/or gender. Finally, the court rejected plaintiff's municipal liability claim under 42 U.S.C. 1981 for the police chief's discriminatory actions as the final decisionmaker. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lewis v. City of Union City" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit overruled Basco v. Machin, 514 F.3d 1177, 1183–84 (11th Cir. 2008), and its progeny inasmuch as those cases held that the Housing Act of 1937 or its implementing regulations create a right enforceable by 42 U.S.C. 1983 to a termination decision made by a preponderance of the evidence. The court granted rehearing en banc to consider this narrow issue. In this case, plaintiff filed suit because the hearing officer issued a written decision that she says failed to meet the preponderance standard. Even accepting her allegation as true, the hearing officer violated the regulation but not the statute. Therefore, plaintiff's case failed as a result. View "Yarbrough v. Decatur Housing Authority" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit denied petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2255 application seeking an order authorizing the district court to consider a second or successive motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his federal sentence. The court held that, although petitioner can demonstrate that United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (2019), is a new rule of constitutional law that applied retroactively to cases on collateral review, he failed to show a reasonable likelihood that he would benefit from the Davis rule. The court held that Davis addressed only 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B)'s residual clause, but the companion crime for which petitioner was convicted (armed robbery of a credit union) qualifies as a "crime of violence" under section 924(c)(3)(A)'s use-of-force clause. View "In re: Drew Pollard" on Justia Law