Courts of Appeals - U.S. Judicial Branch

Latest Member Blog Articles on Courts of Appeals
  • 2014 was a great year for liberals. Marriage equality is sweeping across the nation, the federal courts now have a majority of liberal jurists, America's foreign policy is being reshaped in Obama's image, and both red and blue states voted to choose if they wanted to legalize a plant. Democrats may have lost the Senate, but their priorities surely won in 2014.
  • When is it time to throw in the towel and accept that the tide has turned? Napoleon must have asked himself this very question after being humiliated in the Battle of Waterloo and summarily exiled for the remainder of his life. It's also the same question many anti-gay marriage activists must be asking themselves after the Supreme Court refused to wade back into the gay marriage debate.

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  • The unexpected death of Justice Scalia throws a wrench into an already volatile 2016 election and what happens next will largely depend on a variety of factors and political calculations made by President Obama and the Republican controlled Senate.Here are some scenarios that can happen as the President and Senate battle it out over who will replace the late justice.
  • "They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed." And just like that, marriage equality is the law of the land.Today is a day millions of our citizens--both gay and straight--will never forget.
  • What should happen if someone threatens to kill you on social media? Are they protected by the First Amendment right guaranteeing the right to freedom of speech, or are they breaking the law? We will soon know now the answer after the Supreme Court rules on a case that may have far reaching ramifications well beyond the single case they are hearing.
  • An investigation by CNN has exposed that the National Republican Congressional Committee and Super PAC's associated with Republican candidates in the 2014 election cycle set up fake Twitter accounts to share internal polling data, which seems to violate campaign finance laws in the post Citizens United world.
  • A recent survey conducted by the Public Policy Center of Pennsylvania asked over 1,400 American adults to do a simple task that every elementary school child should know, which is to name the three branches of our federal government. The results leave me more than a little frustrated and despaired. Over one third of respondents could not name the three branches of government.
  • In 1819, the Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward ruling recognized corporations as having the same rights as natural born citizens to contract and to enforce contracts. In Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania (1888) SCOTUS ruled that under the designation of ‘person’ that corporations are included in the 14th Amendment.

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Courts of Appeals Opinion & News Articles
  • A federal appeals court on Friday struck down North Carolina’s requirement that voters show identification before casting ballots and reinstated an additional week of early voting, finding that legislators had acted with “discriminatory intent” in imposing strict election rules.
  • A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the core provisions of two gun control laws passed in New York and Connecticut after the 2012 mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School that banned possession of semiautomatic assault weapons. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld the bans on semiautomatic weapons and large-capacity magazines, but struck down a New York provision regulating load limits and a Connecticut prohibition on the non-semiautomatic Remington 7615.
  • A federal appeals court struck down Texas' voter ID law on Wednesday in a victory for the Obama administration, which had taken the unusual step of bringing the weight of the U.S. Justice Department to fight new Republican-backed mandates at the ballot box. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2011 law carries a "discriminatory effect" and violates one of the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act — the heart of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.
  • A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld some of the most onerous parts of a Texas abortion law, which is likely to cause most of the state's abortion clinics close. The ruling, released Tuesday, allowed provisions requiring clinics to meet hospital-level operating standards and requiring providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals to go into effect. It did exempt the last open clinic in the state's Rio Grande Valley from the provisions, which were passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by former Gov. Rick Perry (R) two years ago. In court, attorneys opposing the law said it could close all but eight clinics in Texas.
  • There are two concurrent debates about the National Security Agency's bulk collection of telephone metadata. One is whether the program violates the Fourth Amendment because it's a warrantless search or seizure. The second is a statutory question: Does the law Congress passed authorize it in the first place? A panel of federal judges on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday morning in ACLU v. Clapper that the collection program isn't authorized by Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which the government has cited to justify the program. In short, the judges ruled that the law doesn't allow the government to collect domestic phone records, because that's not what Congress authorized in the first place.
  • A U.S. spying program that systematically collects millions of Americans' phone records is illegal, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday, putting pressure on Congress to quickly decide whether to replace or end a controversial program aimed at fighting terrorism. Ruling on a program revealed in 2013 by former government security contractor Edward Snowden, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the Patriot Act did not authorize the National Security Agency to collect Americans' calling records in bulk.
  • The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on November 6 upheld same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee, making it the first federal appeals court in the country to come down against marriage equality. Beyond stopping same-sex couples from marrying in several states, the decision makes it very likely that the Supreme Court will now step in to decide the issue of same-sex marriage. The nation's highest court previously side-stepped the debate, largely because all circuit courts had been in agreement that states' same-sex marriage bans violated the Constitution's Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. The decision not to act sparked a wave of court rulings ending same-sex marriage bans in several states, from Idaho to North Carolina.
  • Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker notched a huge victory Friday at the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling could very well result in the controversial Governor’s re-election this November — at the expense of untold thousands of legally registered voters who may now not be able to vote at all this year. Friday morning, a three-judge panel heard Walker’s appeal to the federal ruling that previously struck down his Photo ID voting restriction law. By afternoon, almost immediately following the hearing, the three GOP-appointed federal judges (a Reagan appointee, and two George W. Bush appointees) restored the restrictive voting measure [PDF] in advance of the November general election.