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Courts of Appeals News & Opinion ArticlesDisplaying 7 Items
  • 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.
  • 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.