Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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Plaintiff, a police officer and former police union official, filed suit alleging that defendants violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech by retaliating against him for criticizing management decisions by police officials. The district court ruled in favor of defendants. The Second Circuit held that plaintiff's union remarks were not made under his official duties as a police officer and thus he spoke as a private citizen for purposes of the First Amendment. However, Defendants Moran and Mueller were entitled to qualified immunity, and plaintiff failed to allege a plausible claim for municipal liability against the city. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Montero v. City of Yonkers" on Justia Law

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When a stay has been issued, an immigrant is not held pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1231(a) because he is not in the "removal period" contemplated by statute until his appeal is resolved by this court. The Second Circuit reversed the district court's determination that petitioner was detained under 8 U.S.C. 1231, holding that petitioner was detained under 8 U.S.C. 1226(c). In light of the uncertainty surrounding this area of detention after the Supreme Court's decision in Jennings v. Rodriguez, 138 S. Ct. 830 (2018), the court remanded to the district court for reconsideration of the habeas petition under the correct statutory provision. View "Hechavarria v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against police officers, alleging that they used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. In this interlocutory appeal, the officers challenged the district court's order of a new trial. Insofar as the officers argued that the district court erred in finding the jury's verdict to be against the weight of the evidence, the Second Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the issues before the court turned on disputed facts. The court noted that, given the district court's conclusion that the jury's verdict was against the weight of the evidence, that verdict did not resolve the factual disputes. View "Bryant v. Meriden Police Department" on Justia Law

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The First Amendment protects a prisoner's right not to serve as a prison informant or provide false information to prison officials. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in a First Amendment retaliation claim. Plaintiff alleged that his constitutional rights were violated when he was put on a restricted status known as Involuntary Protective Custody for over six months because he refused the demands of prison guards to act as a snitch, or to falsify his account of a minor incident in the commissary. The court held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because the court had not previously recognized the speech and speech‐related activity as protected by the First Amendment. View "Burns v. Martuscello" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against senior federal law enforcement officials and 25 named and unnamed federal law enforcement officers, alleging that federal officers retaliated against plaintiffs when plaintiffs refused to serve as informants and put plaintiffs on the No Fly List in violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq. The district court held that RFRA did not permit the recovery of money damages against federal officers sued in their individual capacities. The Second Circuit held, however, that RFRA permitted a plaintiff to recover money damages against federal officers sued in their individual capacities for violations of RFRA's substantive protections. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Tanvir v. Tanzin" on Justia Law

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Various entities and individuals associated with the New York City medallion taxicab industry filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendants' regulatory scheme applicable to the ground transportation market in New York City violated their equal protection and due process rights and that they suffered a taking. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiffs failed to state an equal protection violation because medallion taxicabs and for-hire vehicles (FHVs) were not similarly situated and thus the different regulations were supported by rational bases; plaintiffs failed to state a violation of procedural due process because the only effect on plaintiffs of defendants' permitting FHVs to operate in New York City and their promulgation of the Accessible Conversion Rules was some diminution in the value of a medallion, which was not a protected property interest; even assuming plaintiffs had suffered a deprivation of a cognizable property interest, they failed to plead facts to support their claim that they were denied a meaningful opportunity to be heard prior to the promulgation of the Rules; and plaintiffs' takings claim was unripe because they failed to seek compensation through the adequate state procedures that were available. View "Progressive Credit Union v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff challenged the district court's dismissal of claims alleging that his employer, the City, retaliated against him after he filed a discrimination complaint, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq. The Second Circuit held that 42 U.S.C. 1983 provided the sole cause of action against state actors alleged to have violated section 1981. The court construed defendant's claims as section 1983 claims and held that he failed to allege a policy or custom of misconduct, as was necessary to assert liability against a municipality. The court also held that defendant could not avoid Title VII's exhaustion requirement by asserting retaliation for filing a claim of discrimination that he failed to pursue. However, in regard to claims that plaintiff properly exhausted, he has adequately alleged retaliation following both of his EEOC complaints. Therefore, the court vacated the dismissal of those claims. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Duplan v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff challenged the district court's dismissal of claims alleging that his employer, the City, retaliated against him after he filed a discrimination complaint, in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq. The Second Circuit held that 42 U.S.C. 1983 provided the sole cause of action against state actors alleged to have violated section 1981. The court construed defendant's claims as section 1983 claims and held that he failed to allege a policy or custom of misconduct, as was necessary to assert liability against a municipality. The court also held that defendant could not avoid Title VII's exhaustion requirement by asserting retaliation for filing a claim of discrimination that he failed to pursue. However, in regard to claims that plaintiff properly exhausted, he has adequately alleged retaliation following both of his EEOC complaints. Therefore, the court vacated the dismissal of those claims. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Duplan v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action challenging the City's policy of denying tenants the opportunity to open water accounts in their own name and shutting off water service to tenants when landlords fail to pay water bills. The Second Circuit held that the City's policy of denying tenants the opportunity to open water accounts satisfied the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held, however, that the City's water shutoff policy violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. While the City has offered sufficient reasons for its policy of refusing to allow tenants to open their own water accounts and thus satisfied the rational basis test, the City's practice of terminating water service to tenants when a landlord failed to pay the water bill was not rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Winston v. City of Syracuse" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action challenging the City's policy of denying tenants the opportunity to open water accounts in their own name and shutting off water service to tenants when landlords fail to pay water bills. The Second Circuit held that the City's policy of denying tenants the opportunity to open water accounts satisfied the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court held, however, that the City's water shutoff policy violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. While the City has offered sufficient reasons for its policy of refusing to allow tenants to open their own water accounts and thus satisfied the rational basis test, the City's practice of terminating water service to tenants when a landlord failed to pay the water bill was not rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Winston v. City of Syracuse" on Justia Law