Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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This case stemmed from the closure of the Franklin Shelter, an overnight facility for homeless men in downtown Washington D.C. On appeal, plaintiffs alleged that the closure violated federal and D.C. antidiscrimination statutes. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal on res judicata grounds because plaintiffs could have raised these claims in two prior Superior Court cases. View "Sheptock v. Fenty" on Justia Law

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This case arose when Conrail sold its Harsimus Embankment in Jersey City to developers. The City, together with others interested in the historic and environmental value of the Embankment, sued Conrail alleging that the sale was unlawful because Conrail failed to obtain authority from the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to abandon the property. The district court dismissed the case for lack of standing. The court reversed and remanded, concluding that the City enjoyed Article III standing where Conrail's refusal to invoke STB proceedings injured the City by depriving it of the benefits of those proceedings and the City's injury could be redressed by a district court ruling that the Embankment qualified as "railroad line" that Conrail could not abandon without STB approval. View "City of Jersey City, et al. v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, three environmental groups, brought suit in district court to challenge issuance of a permit authorizing the discharge of dredge and fill material into specified wetlands outside Tampa, Florida. Plaintiffs invoked three statutes: the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4332(C), the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1311(a), 1362(7), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1536(a)(2). The district court issued a decision finding that defendants had not fully complied with its obligations under NEPA and the CWA, but rejected plaintiffs' ESA claim, granting summary judgment for plaintiffs on the first two claims and for defendants on the third. The court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, concluding that defendants did satisfy the demands of the three relevant statutes, except for failing to respond, in its treatment of the NEPA and ESA requirements, to a material contention as to the project's impact on an endangered species, the eastern indigo snake. View "Sierra Club, et al. v. Antwerp, et al." on Justia Law

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Three state and local governmental units, along with individual citizens, petitioned the court for review of and other relief from two "determinations" made by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the other respondents: the DOE's attempt to withdraw the application it submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a license to construct a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada; and the DOE's apparent decision to abandon development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository. The court concluded that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 10101-270, set forth a process and schedule for the siting, construction, and operation of a federal repository for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. At this point in that process, the DOE had submitted a construction license application for the Yucca Mountain repository and the NRC maintained a statutory duty to review that application. Therefore, the court held that unless and until petitioners were able to demonstrate that one of the respondents had either violated a clear duty to act or otherwise affirmatively violated the law, petitioners' challenges to the ongoing administrative process was premature. Accordingly, the court held that it lacked jurisdiction over petitioners' claims and dismissed the petitions.

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The Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians ("Buena Vista") entered into a compact with California to engage in gaming on its tribal land and then petitioned the Secretary of the Interior ("Secretary") for approval of the compact. Amador County, in which Buena Vista's land was located, challenged the Secretary's "no-action" approval claiming that the land at issue failed to qualify as "Indian land." At issue was whether Amador County lacked constitutional standing to maintain the suit and whether a compact, that was deemed approved where he failed to act within the 45 day limit, was reviewable. The court held that Amador County had standing where its allegations were more than sufficient to establish concrete and particularized harm and where Amador County could easily satisfy the requirements of causation and redressability. The court also held that where, as here, a plaintiff alleged that a compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"), 25 U.S.C. 2710(d)(8)(C), and required the Secretary to disapprove the compact, nothing in the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. 701(a)(2), precluded judicial review of a subsection (d)(8)(C) no-action approval. Accordingly, the court remanded to give the district court the opportunity to assess the merits of the suit.