Tuesday, November 13, 2018
We covered earlier last month’s conference on the 50th anniversary of the Multidistrict Litigation statute. NYU Law School’s Center on Civil Justice has now posted video of the conference panels, available here.
Monday, November 5, 2018
Friday, November 2, 2018
There’s been a flurry of recent Supreme Court activity involving Juliana v. United States, a case pending in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (covered earlier here and here). Twenty-one young plaintiffs are suing the federal government alleging that it has contributed to climate change in violation of the their constitutional rights.
On October 18, the Solicitor General applied for a stay of discovery and trial. The Supreme Court granted the stay on October 19, “pending receipt of a response, due on or before Wednesday, October 24, 2018, by 3 p.m., and further order of the undersigned or of the Court.” The plaintiffs filed their response on October 22, and the Solicitor General file a reply on October 24.
At this point, there’s been no further ruling from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court proceedings are captioned In re United States and the docket is here.
UPDATE: Late Friday afternoon, the Supreme Court issued an order denying the Solicitor General’s motion. The Court indicated, however, that “adequate relief may be available in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.”
Thursday, October 25, 2018
Now on the Courts Law section of JOTWELL is Alexandra Lahav’s essay, Go Big or Go Home: The Debate Over National Injunctions. Alexandra reviews Amanda Frost’s article, In Defense of Nationwide Injunctions, which is forthcoming in the N.Y.U. Law Review.
Friday, October 19, 2018
Now on the Courts Law section of JOTWELL is Kevin Walsh’s essay, Severability, Separation of Powers, and Agency Design. Kevin reviews Kristin Hickman’s recent article, Symbolism and Separation of Powers in Agency Design, 93 Notre Dame L. Rev. 475 (2017).
Friday, September 28, 2018
This action was commenced when Citibank, N.A. filed a routine state-court collection action against respondent George W. Jackson. Petitioner Home Depot U. S. A., Inc. was not a party to that action and never became a party to that collection dispute. Jackson then filed a counterclaim against Citibank asserting class-action consumer-protection claims. In addition to naming Citibank, Jackson named Home Depot and another company as original defendant to that counterclaim class action. The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-2, 119 Stat. 4, permits "any defendant in a state-court class action to remove the action to federal court if it satisfies certain jurisdictional requirements. Petitioner Home Depot is an original defendant in the class action at issue here and was never a plaintiff in any claim associated with this case.
The question presented is: Whether an original defendant to a class-action claim can remove the class action if it otherwise satisfies the jurisdictional requirements of the Class Action Fairness Act when the class action was originally asserted as a counterclaim against a co-defendant.
The Court also directed the parties to address the following question:
Should this court’s holding in Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100 (1941)—that an original plaintiff may not remove a counterclaim against it—extend to third-party counterclaim defendants?
Friday, September 14, 2018
Here is a quick summary:
- H.R. 3487. This bill’s purpose is to “amend section 1332 of title 28, United States Code, to provide that the requirement for diversity of citizenship jurisdiction is met if any one party to the case is diverse in citizenship from any one adverse party in the case.”
Here is the text of the bill.
H.R. 3487 was not reported, apparently because no reporting quorum was present. (See 3:54:25 here.)
- H.R. 6730, the “Injunctive Authority Clarification Act of 2018.” This bill’s purpose is to “amend title 28, United States Code, to prohibit the issuance of national injunctions, and for other purposes.”
Here is the text of the bill.
H.R. 6730 was ordered to be reported during the hearing.
- H.R. 6754, the “CIRCUIT Act of 2018” or the “Court Imbalance Restructure Concerning Updates to Impacted Tribunals Act of 2018.” This bill’s purpose is to “amend title 28, United States Code, to modify the structure of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and for other purposes.”
Here is the text of the bill.
H.R. 6754 was ordered to be reported during the hearing.
- H.R. 6755, the “Judiciary Reforms, Organization and Operational Modernization Act of 2018” or the “Judiciary ROOM Act of 2018.” This bill’s purpose is to “provide for additional Article III judges, to modernize the administration of justice, and for other purposes.”
Here is the text of the bill.
H.R. 6755 was ordered to be reported during the hearing.
Friday, September 7, 2018
Now on the Courts Law section of JOTWELL is Fred Smith’s essay, The Politically Powerful and Judicial Review. Fred reviews Aaron Tang’s recent article, Rethinking Political Power in Judicial Review, which is forthcoming in the California Law Review.
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Shirin Sinnar has published Procedural Experimentation and National Security in the Courts, 106 Cal. L. Rev. 991 (2018). Here’s the abstract:
In the last fifteen years, individuals have brought hundreds of cases challenging government national security practices for violating human rights or civil liberties. Courts have reviewed relatively few of these cases on the merits, often deferring broadly to the executive branch on the grounds that they lack expertise, political accountability, or the ability to protect national security secrets. Yet in cases where courts have permitted civil suits to proceed far enough to decide legal questions, influence policy, or afford litigants relief, they have often experimented with new methods for managing the secret information implicated in many national security cases. These procedures include centralizing cases through Multidistrict Litigation, conducting in camera review of sensitive documents, pressing the government to provide opposing counsel access to secret evidence, appointing special experts of their own, facilitating interlocutory review, and deciding cases in an incremental and dynamic fashion. Illuminating this procedural experimentation, this Article contends that courts can address secrecy in national security adjudication in a tailored, pragmatic fashion, rather than deferring to the executive at the threshold. But this account also shows the limits of such strategies: where misapplied, some procedures may fall short of due process, undermine norms of public access and transparency in the courts, reduce pluralism in the adjudication of disputes, or import bias into judicial decision-making. Together, this suggests that courts should adopt these procedures cautiously and with case-specific assessment of their costs and benefits. Panning out from national security litigation, the Article also offers a set of secondary insights for civil procedure more generally: it highlights the role of the executive branch in making procedural law, the costs of certain trans-substantive procedures, and distorted perceptions across the civil–criminal procedure divide.
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Ben Grunwald was published Strategic Publication, 92 Tul. L. Rev. 745 (2018). Here’s the abstract:
Under the standard account of judicial behavior, when a panel of appellate court judges cannot agree on the outcome of a case, the panel has two options. First, it can publish a divided decision with a majority opinion and a dissent. Panels usually do not take this route because a dissent dramatically increases the probability of reversal. The second and more common option is for the panel to bargain and compromise over the reasoning of the decision and then publish a unanimous opinion.
This Article argues that a divided panel has a third option: strategic publication. The panel can choose not to publish any opinion at all and thus sap its decision of precedential weight and insulate it from further scrutiny by higher courts. This Article also reports the results of a novel empirical analysis of case-level data on published and unpublished decisions in one federal circuit court. While it finds little empirical evidence that majority-Democrat panels in the sample engage in strategic publication, it finds evidence that majority-Republican panels do. The Article concludes by offering several policy proposals to diminish strategic publication by separating the publication decision from judicial negotiations over the merits.
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
The Notre Dame Law Review recently published a symposium issue entitled Federal Courts, Practice & Procedure: The Future of Qualified Immunity, which includes pieces by Sam Bray, Joanna Schwartz, Aaron Nielson & Chris Walker, Karen Blum, Alan Chen, Jack Preis, Scott Michelman, David Shapiro & Charles Hogle, Alex Reinert, and Fred Smith.
Monday, August 27, 2018
Andrew Hammond has posted on SSRN a draft of his article, Pleading Poverty in Federal Court, which is forthcoming in the Yale Law Journal. Here’s the abstract:
What must a poor person plead to gain access to the federal courts? How do courts decide when a poor litigant is poor enough? This Article answers those questions with the first comprehensive study of how district courts determine when a litigant may proceed in forma pauperis in a civil lawsuit. This Article shows that district courts lack standards to determine a litigant’s poverty and often require litigants to answer an array of questions to little effect. As a result, discrepancies in federal practice abound—across and within district courts—and produce a pleading system that is irrational, inefficient, and invasive. This Article makes four contributions. First, it codes all the poverty pleadings currently used by the 94 federal district courts. Second, the Article shows that the flaws of these pleading procedures are neither inevitable nor characteristic of poverty determinations. By comparing federal practice to other federal means tests and state court practices, the Article demonstrates that a more streamlined, yet rights-respecting approach is possible. Third, the Article proposes a coherent in forma pauperis standard—one that would align federal practice with federal law, promote reasoned judicial administration, and protect the dignity of litigants. Such a solution proves that judges need not choose between extending access to justice and preserving court resources. In this instance and perhaps others, judges can serve both commitments of the federal system. Fourth, the Article illustrates how to study procedure from the bottom up. Given the persistent and widening levels of inequality in American society, no account of civil procedure is complete without an understanding of how poor people litigate today.
Friday, August 24, 2018
Cathie Struve has published The Federal Rules of Inmate Appeals, 50 Ariz. St. L.J. 247 (2018). Here’s the abstract:
The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure turn fifty in 2018. During the rules' half-century of existence, the number of federal appeals by self-represented, incarcerated litigants has grown dramatically. This article surveys ways in which the procedure for inmate appeals has evolved over the past fifty years, and examines the challenges of designing procedures with confined litigants in mind. In the initial decades under the Appellate Rules, the most visible developments concerning the procedure for inmate appeals arose from the interplay between court decisions and the federal rulemaking process. But, as court dockets swelled, the circuits also developed local case management practices that significantly affect inmate appeals. And, in the 1990s, Congress enacted legislation that produced major changes in inmate litigation, including inmate appeals. In the coming years, the most notable new driver of change in the procedure for inmate appeals may be the advent of opportunities for electronic court filing within prisons. That nascent development illustrates the ways in which the particulars of procedure in inmate appeals are shaped by systems in prisons, jails, and other facilities—and underscores the salience of local court practices and institutional partnerships.
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Now on the Courts Law section of JOTWELL is Steve Vladeck’s essay, Why Military Justice Doesn’t Get Enough Academic Attention. Steve reviews Rodrigo Caruço’s recent article, In Order to Form a More Perfect Court: A Quantitative Measure of the Military’s Highest Court’s Success as a Court of Last Resort, 41 Vt. L. Rev. 71 (2016).
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Yesterday the Ninth Circuit issued its decision in Rodriguez v. Swartz. It’s a particularly interesting case in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Ziglar v. Abbasi and Hernandez v. Mesa.
By a 2-1 vote, the panel affirmed the district court’s refusal to dismiss a claim against a U.S. Border Patrol agent who, while standing on American soil, shot and killed a teenage Mexican citizen who was walking down a street in Mexico. (In the interest of full disclosure, I joined an amicus brief on behalf of law professors in support of the plaintiff-appellee.)
Judge Andrew Kleinfeld’s majority opinion concludes:
Under the particular set of facts alleged in this case, Swartz is not entitled to qualified immunity. The Fourth Amendment applies here. No reasonable officer could have thought that he could shoot J.A. dead if, as pleaded, J.A. was innocently walking down a street in Mexico. And despite our reluctance to extend Bivens, we do so here: no other adequate remedy is available, there is no reason to infer that Congress deliberately chose to withhold a remedy, and the asserted special factors either do not apply or counsel in favor of extending Bivens.
Of course, the facts as pleaded may turn out to be unsupported. When all of the facts have been exposed, the shooting may turn out to have been excusable or justified. There is and can be no general rule against the use of deadly force by Border Patrol agents. But in the procedural context of this case, we must take the facts as alleged in the complaint. Those allegations entitle J.A.’s mother to proceed with her case.
Judge Milan Smith dissented, arguing that no Bivens action was available.
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Ray Brescia has published On Objects and Sovereigns: The Emerging Frontiers of State Standing, 96 Or. L. Rev. 363 (2018). From the conclusion:
By taking positions at time adverse to the federal government in the courts through public law litigation, regardless of the administration or political party in power, states can serve as political and constitutional counterweights when they perceive that the federal government is threatening their interests and those of their constituents. They do this by bringing very public law litigation and making sweeping allegations of unconstitutional behavior of the federal government. States appear able to pursue such claims through the federal courts, even when the courts have expressed a reluctance to recognize state authority to sue in a representational capacity and when standing doctrine more generally appears less willing to recognize public harms. By characterizing the harms they allege as those that resemble what a private litigant might assert, however, states appear to have found an approach to vindicating public law interests dressed down in the raiment of private law harms. By doing so, their claims appear to have faced courts more receptive to such harms and more willing to entertaining such suits. Whether this approach generates the type of concrete adverseness the standing doctrine is supposed to surface and brings to light the true nature of the harms at stake that deserve attention by the courts, remains to be seen.
Monday, August 6, 2018
Andy Hessick has published Consenting to Adjudication Outside the Article III Courts, 71 Vand. L. Rev. 715 (2018). Here’s the abstract:
Article III confers the judicial power on the federal courts, and it provides the judges of those courts with life tenure and salary guarantees to ensure that they decide disputes according to law instead of popular pressure. Despite this careful arrangement, the Supreme Court has not restricted the judicial power to the Article III courts. Instead, it has held that Article I tribunals—whose judges do not enjoy the salary and tenure guarantees provided by Article III—may adjudicate disputes if the parties consent to the tribunals’ jurisdiction. This consent exception provides the basis for thousands of adjudications by Article I judges each year. This Article challenges the consent exception. It argues that the consent of the parties should not be a basis for adjudication before an Article I tribunal. As it explains, permitting Article I tribunals to adjudicate based on the parties’ consent is inconsistent with the text of the Constitution and historical practice, and it undermines both the separation of powers and federalism.
Monday, July 30, 2018
Jonah Gelbach & Dave Marcus have published Rethinking Judicial Review of High Volume Agency Adjudication, 96 Tex. L. Rev. 1097 (2018). Here’s the abstract:
Article III courts annually review thousands of decisions rendered by Social Security Administrative Law Judges, Immigration Judges, and other agency adjudicators who decide large numbers of cases in short periods of time. Federal judges can provide a claim for disability benefits or for immigration relief—the sort of consideration that an agency buckling under the strain of enormous caseloads cannot. Judicial review thus seems to help legitimize systems of high volume agency adjudication. Even so, influential studies rooted in the gritty realities of this decision-making have concluded that the costs of judicial review outweigh whatever benefits the process creates.
We argue that the scholarship of high volume agency adjudication has overlooked a critical function that judicial review plays. The large numbers of cases that disability benefits claimants, immigrants, and others file in Article III courts enable federal judges to engage in what we call “problem-oriented oversight.” These judges do not just correct errors made in individual cases or forge legally binding precedent. They also can and do identify entrenched problems of policy administration that afflict agency adjudication. By pressuring agencies to address these problems, Article III courts can help agencies make across-the-board improvements in how they handle their dockets. Problem-oriented oversight significantly strengthens the case for Article III review of high volume agency adjudication.
This Article describes and defends problem-oriented oversight through judicial review. We also propose simple approaches to analyzing data from agency appeals that Article III courts can use to improve the oversight they offer. Our argument builds on a several-year study of social security disability benefits adjudication that we conducted on behalf of the Administrative Conference of the United States. The research for this study gave us rare insight into the day-to-day operations of an agency struggling to adjudicate huge numbers of cases quickly and a court system attempting to help this agency improve.
Thursday, July 26, 2018
SDNY rules on motions to dismiss cases challenging addition of a citizenship status question to 2020 census
Today U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman (S.D.N.Y.) issued an opinion and order granting in part and denying in part the defendants’ motion to dismiss two related cases, New York v. United States Department of Commerce and New York Immigration Coalition v. United States Department of Commerce. The plaintiffs in these cases are challenging—on a number of grounds—Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to reinstate a question on citizenship status for the 2020 census. The upshot, as the court summarizes is this:
Plaintiffs’ claims under the Enumeration Clause — which turn on Secretary Ross’s power rather than his purposes — must be and are dismissed. By contrast, their claims under the APA (which Defendants seek to dismiss solely on jurisdictional and justiciability grounds) and the Due Process Clause — which turn at least in part on Secretary Ross’s purposes and not merely on his power — may proceed.
In reaching this conclusion, the opinion covers a number of interesting issues, including Article III standing, the political question doctrine, and whether the plaintiffs plausibly alleged discriminatory animus for purposes of their equal protection claim under the Due Process Clause.
In Lewis v. Governor of Alabama, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of an equal protection challenge to a 2016 Alabama statute that nullified a Birmingham city ordinance raising the minimum wage to $10.10. Here’s the introductory paragraph:
For a single day in February 2016, Marnika Lewis and Antoin Adams secured a pay raise. The Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, William Bell, had just affixed his signature to Birmingham Ordinance No. 16-28, which guaranteed Lewis, Adams, and all other wage earners in the city $10.10 per hour. But the following afternoon, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed the Minimum Wage and Right-to-Work Act (The Minimum Wage Act or the Act) into law. The Minimum Wage Act nullified Birmingham Ordinance No. 16-28, preempted all local labor and employment regulation, and mandated a uniform minimum wage throughout Alabama—which, then and now, sits at $7.25 per hour. At the heart of this appeal is whether Lewis and Adams have stated a plausible claim that the Minimum Wage Act had the purpose and effect of discriminating against Birmingham’s black citizens, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Because they have, we reverse the dismissal of that claim. We affirm the dismissal of all other claims.
The opinion addresses standing, sovereign immunity, and pleading standards. As to pleading, the court concludes:
Here, a sensitive but thorough examination of the plaintiffs’ detailed allegations leads us to conclude that they have plausibly alleged a discriminatory motivation behind the Minimum Wage Act, despite the law’s neutrality and rationale. This is all that is required for their claim to survive a motion to dismiss.