Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's order dismissing plaintiff's claims under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), challenging a resolution requiring the Mississippi state flag to be flown over city hall and other municipal buildings, based on lack of standing. The court held that plaintiffs, a non-profit organization and various residents of Ocean Springs, lacked Article III standing because exposure to the Mississippi state flag did not constitute an injury sufficient to confer standing for an equal protection claim. Furthermore, plaintiffs' allegations failed to establish statutory standing under the FHA as aggrieved persons because the only act that they alleged -- the City's resolution requiring the Mississippi state flag to be flown over public buildings -- was not a discriminatory housing practice. The court denied the City's motion for sanctions and costs against plaintiffs and their counsel. View "Mississippi Rising Coalition v. City of Ocean Springs" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction and dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint with prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915A. Plaintiff argued that the composition of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The court held that plaintiff failed to allege a violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, and thus the district court properly dismissed the section 1983 complaint on the merits. The court reasoned that plaintiff's allegations did not reflect the complete lack of process that the court has held may violate the minimal due process protections that exist in the clemency context. View "Garcia v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Blackman was convicted of murder in 1998 and sentenced to life imprisonment. In a successive Section 2255 application, she challenged her conviction under Brady v. Maryland, Napue v. Illinois, and Giglio v. United States. The claim was based on the inconsistency between a detectives trial testimony that a witness had positively identified Blackman in the lineup and the prosecutor’s note indicating hesitation. The district court dismissed the petition. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The petition did not fulfill the stringent requirements of 28 U.S.C. 2244(b)(2)(B). Even if Blackman could establish that she exercised due diligence in discovering the basis for her claims, the newly discovered evidence, taken together with the proof adduced at trial, does not show “by clear and convincing evidence” that, but for the prosecution’s misconduct, “no reasonable factfinder would have found her guilty” of murder. The district court was not authorized to grant a certificate of appealability on the merits of Blackman’s claims while also determining that her petition ultimately failed to meet the statutory prerequisites for a successive try at federal habeas relief. View "Blackman v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the medical administrator and a medical services contractor for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, alleging that defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide medically necessary hip replacement and reconstructive surgery. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court properly granted summary judgment in the contractor's favor because there was no evidence that he failed to take reasonable measures to abate a substantial risk of serious harm to plaintiff. However, because the district court failed to address the Ex parte Young exception to sovereign immunity for claims for prospective injunctive relief as to the administrator, the court held that the injunctive relief claim should be remanded. The court further held that factual disputes about the reason for the delay prevented it from determining whether the administrator violated plaintiff's constitutional rights. Therefore, the court reversed as to this claim and remanded for further proceedings. Finally, the court vacated the district court's judgment denying appointment of counsel and remanded for reconsideration. View "Delaughter v. Woodall" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for rehearing en banc; treated the petition for rehearing en banc as a petition for panel rehearing; and granted the petition for panel rehearing. The court withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. Three exotic dancers under the age of 21 filed suit challenging Louisiana's amendment of two statutes (Act No. 395) that required entertainers on premises licensed to serve alcohol and whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view be 21 years of age or older. The district court concluded that plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that the Act was unconstitutionally overbroad and vague, and issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the Act. The court vacated the injunction and held that the district court erred in holding that the Act was overbroad, either for the lack of narrow tailoring necessary under United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 376 (1968), or for "substantial overbreadth" under such cases as Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U.S. 601, 612 (1973). Determining that plaintiffs had standing to bring their vagueness claim, the court held that the Act survived a facial challenge for vagueness. The court explained that it was enough that the Act required the full coverage of commonly understood anatomical terms. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Doe v. Marine-Lombard" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied petitioner's application for a certificate of appealability (COA) to challenge the denial of his Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) motion. The court held that there were no extraordinary circumstances meriting Rule 60(b)(6) relief. The court held that, even if petitioner's claims were not procedurally defaulted under Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1, 14 (2012), and Trevino v. Thaler, 569 U.S. 413, 428 (2013), he was ineligible for Rule 60(b)(6) relief. Furthermore, petitioner neither alleged racial discrimination nor demonstrated how his claims gave rise to the sort of pernicious injury that affects communities at large. View "Raby v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the employer in an action alleging retaliation under Texas law. The court held that, although the district court erred by concluding that New Mexico law applied in this case, the protected conduct plaintiff described was not a but-for cause of their terminations. The court explained that an employee bringing a retaliation claim under the Texas Occupational Code must demonstrate that he would not have been terminated but for his protected conduct. In this case, plaintiffs' refusal to train a patient independently was not a necessary, or but-for, cause of the firings. View "Almeida v. Bio-Medical Applications of Texas, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a petition for habeas corpus based on lack of jurisdiction. At issue was whether petitioner was "in custody" under the challenged state court judgment. The court held that, because it was undisputed that petitioner will be civilly committed upon the completion of his criminal sentence, he was "in custody" under the civil commitment order when he filed his 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to consider the petition in the first instance. View "Rubio v. Davis" on Justia Law

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After the dismissal of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion, he filed a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion to alter the judgment. The district court dismissed the Rule 59(e) motion without an evidentiary hearing. The Fifth Circuit held that it did not have jurisdiction to review defendant's claims because the Rule 59(e) motion constituted a successive 28 U.S.C. 2255 application under Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 532 (2005). The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant an evidentiary hearing because he has not provided independent indicia of the merit of his allegations. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and dismissed in part. View "United States v. McDaniels" on Justia Law

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Three Expo filed suit against the City and sought a preliminary injunction preventing the City from enforcing Resolution No. 160308, which denied Three Expo's requests to contract with the City to hold a three-day adult entertainment expo at the Dallas Convention Center. The district court denied Three Expo's motion for a preliminary injunction. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment, holding Three Expo established the three elements required for standing on each of its claims and should be permitted to proceed with its suit. The court held that the district court's decision that Three Expo lacked standing was based on clear errors in the factual findings and the district court's manifest failure to apply the well-established principles of law governing Article III standing to the entire evidence of record. View "Three Expo Events, LLC v. City of Dallas" on Justia Law