Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's judgment for plaintiffs on their 42 U.S.C. 1983 false arrest claim. The longstanding exemption from municipal limitations on sidewalk vending for disabled veterans, codified in New York General Business Law 35, entitles "any honorably discharged member of the armed forces of the United States who is physically disabled as a result of injuries received while in the service of said armed forces" to vend in "any street, avenue, alley, lane or park" of the City, so long as he or she has been issued a license to do so. The court held that New York General Business Law 35‐a(7)(i) does require curbside vending. In this case, plaintiffs, five disabled veterans, alleged a claim of false arrest on the theory that they were in compliance with section 35‐a(7)(i) such that there was no probable cause to issue summonses. The summonses were issued by officers for plaintiffs' failure to comply with orders to relocate their vending carts, because plaintiffs were operating their carts more than three feet from the curb. Because of the curbside vending requirement, the officers did not lack a basis to issue the summonses. View "Crescenzi v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, defendants challenged the district court's denial of their motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction a complaint alleging that Connecticutʹs redistricting plan, which counts incarcerated individuals in the district in which their prison is located rather than the district in which they permanently reside, violates the ʺone person, one voteʺ principle of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Second Circuit affirmed in part the district court's order to the extent it held that the Eleventh Amendment bar on suits against states does not apply to plaintiffsʹ claim and denied defendantsʹ motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. However, the court held that the district court lacked jurisdiction to deny defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, because this case involves a challenge to the constitutionality of the apportionment of a statewide legislative body, which must be heard by a three-judge district court under 28 U.S.C. 2284(a). Therefore, because this case falls within section 2284(a) and plaintiffs' claim presents a substantial federal question, the court remanded for the district court to refer the matter to a three-judge court for further proceedings. View "NAACP v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint, alleging associational discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court held that plaintiff has stated a claim for association discrimination under the ADA, because the complaint supports an inference that plaintiff was qualified for his position and that he was fired because his supervisor assumed he would be distracted by his daughter's disability. In this case, plaintiff's allegations provide all that was needed to raise a minimal inference that plaintiff's employer thought plaintiff's daughter was a distraction, and concern over distraction was a determining factor in plaintiff's termination. View "Kelleher v. Fred A. Cook, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of his claims alleging that he was wrongfully detained by local authorities pursuant to a federal immigration detainer. The Second Circuit held that the district court erred as to plaintiff's false arrest and false imprisonment claim against the government, because no reasonable officer would have issued the detainer under the circumstances without conducting an inquiry. Furthermore, the complaint alleged facts from which a reasonable inquiry would have revealed that plaintiff was a citizen who could not have been subject to an immigration detainer. The court also held that the district court erred as to plaintiff's official policy claim against the city, because the complaint plausibly alleged that but for the detainer, plaintiff would have been released, and that the city confined him not for his failure to post bail but because of the detainer. Furthermore, the complaint plausibly alleged that the city refused to release plaintiff because of its policy, the city would have seen that plaintiff was not subject to an immigration detainer if it had checked, and the city policy caused plaintiff's deprivation of rights. Finally, the court held that the district court properly dismissed the remaining claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "Hernandez v. United States" on Justia Law

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Owners and operators of businesses in the hospitality industry appealed the district court's dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction of their complaint, alleging that President Trump violated the Domestic and Foreign Emoluments Clauses of the United States Constitution. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that they have been and will be injured because foreign and domestic government entities that patronize Washington, D.C. and New York hotels, restaurants, and event spaces patronize Trump establishments in the hope of enriching the President and earning a reward from him through official Presidential action favorable to their governments. The Second Circuit vacated and held that the district court did not apply the law correctly in finding that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the case, and that plaintiffs satisfied all three prongs of Article III standing. The court held that plaintiffs adequately alleged an injury in fact, their injury was fairly traceable to President Trump, and their injury was redressable by injunctive relief. The court noted that the Fourth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion in a closely analogous case, but found its arguments to be unpersuasive. The court noted that whether a lawsuit has political motivations was irrelevant to the determinative issues. The court also held that the district court erred in dismissing the complaint on the theory that plaintiffs' injuries fall outside the zone of interests of the Emoluments Clauses. The court held that the zone of interests test does not, as the district court believed, implicate the district court's subject matter jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court's precedents make clear that plaintiffs' injuries were not outside the zone of interests of the Emoluments Clauses. Finally, the court found the district court's prudential considerations unpersuasive, disagreeing with the district court's determination that the case was non-justiciable and not ripe for adjudication. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Trump" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was terminated from his position as a substitute teacher, he filed suit against defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging in relevant part procedural due process and stigma‐plus claims related to the termination of his employment. Plaintiff was terminated from his position after defendants instituted an investigation into sexual misconduct claims, but ultimately concluded that there were no grounds for an investigation. The Second Circuit held, with respect to plaintiff's due process claim, that he failed to establish a clearly established right to the meaningful opportunity to utilize his teaching license. The court also held that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that defendantsʹ conduct was sufficiently stigmatizing under clearly established law so as to give rise to a "stigma‐plusʺ claim. Therefore, the court held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity and the district court erred by denying summary judgment as to both claims. The court remanded with instruction. View "Mudge v. Zugalla" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against CCJ and several employees, alleging the denial of his right to free exercise of religion in violation of the First Amendment, deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The district court granted summary judgment to all defendants on all counts. The Second Circuit held that plaintiff introduced sufficient evidence to create a genuine dispute of material fact as to the free exercise and retaliation claim. The court held that a reasonable jury could find that plaintiff was served significantly more than 10 meals containing pork, which was not in compliance with his religious diet. Furthermore, the district court also erred in concluding that 10 noncompliant meals was not a substantial burden. The court also held that a genuine dispute exists as to facts underlying the alleged retaliation against plaintiff. However, plaintiff may proceed on his claims against only those defendants who were personally involved in each violation. Accordingly, the court vacated in part, affirmed in part, and remanded. View "Brandon v. Kinter" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a registered sex offender, filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that visits by the county and Parents for Megan's Law (PFML) constituted unreasonable seizures in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants. The court assumed without deciding that the visits were the product of state action and constituted seizures under the Fourth Amendment, but held that they were reasonable under the special needs doctrine. View "Jones v. County of Suffolk" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The court held that the trial court's exclusion of three defense witnesses violated petitioner's constitutional right to present a complete defense. Therefore, the court remanded with instructions to the district court to issue the writ. View "Scrimo v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal on summary judgment of plaintiff's claim that a hospital violated section 504 the Rehabilitation Act by failing to provide her with an ASL interpreter. At issue was whether and when hospital staff members may be considered to be acting as officials or policymakers of the hospital so that their conduct may be attributed to the hospital and thereby establish plaintiff's right to damages on the ground that the defendant institution was deliberately indifferent to a violation of the Act. The court held that material issues of fact preclude summary judgment where the record contains evidence that the hospital staff at issue had knowledge of the deprivation of plaintiff's right to an interpreter, had the power to cure that violation, and failed to cure it View "Biondo v. Kaleida Health" on Justia Law