Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the NHTSA's final rule, which reversed the agency's 2016 increase to the base rate of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) penalty. The court held that the CAFE penalty is a civil monetary penalty under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act. Consequently, NHTSA did not act in accordance with law when it reached the contrary conclusion in its 2019 Final Rule and reversed its initial catch-up inflation adjustment.The court also held that the NHTSA's reconsideration of the economic effects of its initial rule was untimely and therefore unauthorized. In this case, the Improvements Act provided a limited window of time for NHTSA to reduce the initial catch-up inflation adjustment to the CAFE penalty based on a conclusion that the increase would have a negative economic impact. However, by 2019, that window had closed and the agency acted in excess of its authority when it reconsidered and reversed its prior increase of the CAFE penalty based on an assessment of economic consequences. Accordingly, the court vacated the rule. View "New York v. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a motion brought by unions representing uniformed New York City officers to stay, pending appeal the district court's July 29, 2020 order modifying the district court's July 22, 2020 order such that the order no longer applies to non-party NYCLU. This dispute arose out of the action of the New York legislature repealing section 50-a of the State's Civil Rights Law, which had shielded from public disclosure personnel records of various uniformed officers including police officers. The court stated that the effect of the modification is to permit the NYCLU publicly to disclose information concerning disciplinary records of approximately 81,000 New York City police officers, records alleged to contain unsubstantiated and nonfinal allegations.The court held that the district court properly excluded the NYCLU from the disclosure prohibition under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d)(2)(C) because it was not "in active concert" with a party bound by a TRO or a preliminary injunction. The court explained that the NYCLU could not be "in active concert" with such a party because it lawfully gained access to the information at issue before the July 22 disclosure prohibition was issued against it and obviously could not have known of a prohibition that did not then exist. Therefore, because appellants had no probability of success on the appeal from the July 29 order, the court denied the motion for a stay pending appeal, thereby terminating the emergency stay that a judge of this court had entered pending consideration of the stay motion by a three-judge panel. View "Uniformed Fire Officers Ass'n v. DeBlasio" on Justia Law

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The Department of State cannot revoke a citizen's United States passport on the ground that he concealed his identity in applying for the passport, where the citizen makes a statement that prior to his naturalization he was known by another name but he applied for, and was issued, his passport using his uncontested legal name.Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his Administrative Procedure Act (APA) suit challenging the Department's revocation of his passport. The district court dismissed the complaint after determining that the revocation of plaintiff's passport was neither arbitrary nor capricious, and did not violate Due Process.The Second Circuit reversed the district court's judgment and found that plaintiff could not have fraudulently obtained his passport when he used the name and birthdate denoted on his unchallenged immigration and citizenship documents, including his certificate of naturalization. The court reversed the Department's final decision upholding the passport revocation and ordered the Department to return plaintiff's expired passport so that he may apply for a new United States passport if he so chooses. View "Alzokari v. Pompeo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the quarantine decisions of certain Connecticut state officials in response to an Ebola epidemic in West Africa. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's denial of their motion for class certification and dismissing their suit for lack of standing and based on qualified immunity. Plaintiffs primarily argue that they suffered actual or imminent injuries that create standing to seek prospective relief to avert allegedly unconstitutional future quarantines; clearly established law required that any quarantine imposed be medically necessary and comport with certain procedural safeguards; and their class is sufficiently numerous to merit certification.The Second Circuit affirmed and held that the district court properly deemed plaintiffs' injuries too speculative to support standing. In this case, plaintiffs failed to plead a sufficient likelihood that, under the revised policy, any of them faces a substantial risk of suffering a future injury. The court also held that the law surrounding quarantines was not clearly established such that a state official may be held liable for the actions taken here. The court did not reach the class certification issue because it is mooted by the court's conclusion as to standing. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions to amend the judgment to clarify that the state law claims were dismissed without prejudice. View "Liberian Community Ass'n v. Lamont" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking records from the Department of Commerce (DOC); the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency within the DOC; and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent entity within the NTIA. The FOIA requests concerned the operations of FirstNet, which was created by Congress in 2012 at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to oversee the development of a National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) for first responders. The district court dismissed plaintiffs' claims in part and granted summary judgment for defendants in part.The Second Circuit held that the district court did not err in concluding that FirstNet is not subject to FOIA and that an agency need not search for records if it has reasonably determined that a search would be futile. The court also held that plaintiffs' challenge to the district court's determination, that the agency declarations establish beyond genuine dispute that the NTIA and the DOC did not have a practice or policy of referring FOIA requests to FirstNet, are meritless. Finally, plaintiffs waived their claim that defendants violated section 208 of the E-Government Act of 2002. View "Whitaker v. Department of Commerce" on Justia Law

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Osen filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking military investigation records from terrorist attacks that occurred in Iraq between 2004 and 2011. The district court applied the official disclosure doctrine and concluded that CENTCOM could not withhold certain classified images contained in those records because another component of the DOD had previously disclosed that information.The Second Circuit held that, although similar images from other, unrelated terrorist attacks have been produced in the past, no component of DOD has ever disclosed images of the attacks for which Osen seeks records in this case. Therefore, CENTCOM did not waive its right to withhold the images that Osen requested under the official disclosure doctrine. The court also held that it must give substantial weight to CENTCOM's position that disclosure of those classified images will pose a risk to national security, and thus CENTCOM properly withheld the images at issue under the first exemption from FOIA production. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and reversed the district court's decision, remanding to the district court. View "Osen LLC v. United States Central Command" on Justia Law

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The Authority appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants, two vessels and their corporate owners, in an action brought under the federal Oil Pollution Act (OPA) and state law. The claims arose from the release of thousands of gallons of oil from a submarine power-transmission cable into Long Island Sound, which the Authority alleges was caused by the defendant vessels dropping anchor.The Second Circuit vacated the district court's order and held that the submarine cable is indeed "used for" one of the enumerated "purposes" in the OPA's definition of "facility." Consequently, the panel found that the cable system is used for at least one of the enumerated purposes in the statute. Therefore, the district court erred in dismissing the Authority's OPA claims and in concluding that the Authority's New York Oil Spill Law claims had to be brought in the parallel proceeding on that basis. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Power Authority of the State of New York v. M/V Ellen S. Bouchard" on Justia Law

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The district court decided that the government was not authorized under 8 C.F.R. 241.14(d) to continue holding petitioner in immigration detention pending his removal from the United States and ordered the government to release him. The government appealed and argued that section 241.14(d) is not inconsistent with its authorizing statute, 8 U.S.C. 1231(a)(6), and that it provides adequate procedural due process.The Second Circuit granted the government's motion for a stay pending appeal, holding that the government has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its argument that the district court erred in holding that section 241.14(d) is inconsistent with section 1231(a)(6) and does not provide adequate procedural due process. The court also held that the government has made a strong showing of a likelihood of success on its argument that the district court erred in holding that section 241.14(d) is not a permissible reading of section 1231(a)(6). Furthermore, considerations of irreparable harm and the equities favor a stay of petitioner's release pending appeal. View "Hassoun v. Searls" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that defendant's denial of plaintiff's application pursuant to the Child State Protection Act (CSPA) for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The district court set aside defendants' October 2017 decision denying plaintiff's adjustment of status application and directed defendants to reopen and readjudicate the application.The court held that the government is equitably estopped from initiating rescission proceedings to reopen plaintiff's adjustment of status application or placing her in removal proceedings. In this case, the undisputed facts show that USCIS failed to issue a rejection notice, despite controlling regulation and, consequently, plaintiff was not advised of any defect in her application, depriving her of the opportunity to correct the issue. View "Schwebel v. Crandall" on Justia Law

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Healthcare insurers filed suit challenging an emergency regulation promulgated in 2017 by New York's Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services that would have significantly reduced the amount of risk adjustment funding to which plaintiffs were entitled in 2017 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and subsequent years using HHS's federal methodology.The Second Circuit held that New York's emergency regulation was preempted by the ACA and HHS's regulations. The court held that New York's regulation interferes with, indeed reverses, some of the central "criteria and methods" that HHS, acting within its statutory authority, established for implementing a risk adjustment program and methodology. Accordingly, the court reversed the portion of the district court's judgment that dismissed plaintiffs' preemption claim and remanded with instructions to grant summary judgment in plaintiffs' favor on that claim. The court also vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' takings and exaction claims, remanding for further proceedings. View "UnitedHealthcare of New York, Inc. v. Lacewell" on Justia Law