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

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Plaintiffs filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, request for records held by the CIA pertaining to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to carry out targeted killings. The district court affirmed the CIA's Glomar response, concluding that a response refusing to confirm or deny that the CIA had such records was justified under the circumstances of this case. The court concluded that it was not "logical or plausible" for the CIA to contend that it would reveal something not already officially acknowledged to say that the CIA "at least has an intelligence interest" in such strikes. The court held that the CIA's broad Glomar response was untenable and therefore, the court reversed the district court's judgment dismissing plaintiffs' FOIA action and remanded for further proceedings. View "American Civil Liberties Union, et al v. CIA" on Justia Law

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Congress enacted section 703 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, 10 U.S.C. 1074g(f), which subjected all prescriptions purchased at retail pharmacies by service members to the same price caps as drugs procured directly by the Department of Defense. Pursuant to this provision, the Secretary of Defense issued a regulation requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to refund to the federal government the difference between the retail price and the price cap. The Coalition, a multi-industry interest group that represented pharmaceutical companies, filed suit challenging these actions. The court concluded that the Secretary reasonably interpreted section 703 to impose involuntary price caps and held that the statute itself imposed retroactive rebate liability on pharmaceutical manufacturers. View "Coalition For Common Sense in Government Procurement v. United States, et al" on Justia Law

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Military chaplains, all non-liturgical Protestants, alleged that the Navy systematically discriminated against members of their religious denominations in the awarding of promotions. The district court denied plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, concluding that they lacked Article III standing and, alternatively, were unlikely to succeed on the merits. The court concluded that at least those plaintiffs whose promotions would likely be considered by future selection boards operating under the challenged policies have standing to pursue claims for injunctive relief. The court also concluded that the district court's resolution of plaintiffs' denominational preference theory was not based on factual findings that the court could review for clear error. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's determination that plaintiffs lacked standing to seek injunctive relief. The court also vacated the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction and remanded for further proceedings. View "Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Church, et al v. United States Navy, et al" on Justia Law

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Appellee, a government contractor, underwent military detention in Iraq. After his release, he filed this action in the district court alleging claims under the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), 42 U.S.C. 2000dd et seq., and a Bivens action for violation of his due process rights. Secretary Rumsfeld moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The district court granted the motion as to the claims under the DTA and some other claims, but did imply an action under the Bivens due process theory and denied Rumsfeld's motion to dismiss as to those claims. Secretary Rumsfeld appealed from the denial of his motion, arguing both that the claims were barred by qualified immunity and that the district court erred in implying such a cause of action in the first instance. The court agreed that the district court erred in implying such a cause of action and reversed the order. View "Doe v. Rumsfeld, et al." on Justia Law

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After the Air Force announced it would conduct a reduction-in-force (RIF) at Luke Air Force Base, the Union made several proposals about how the RIF should be conducted and asked the Air Force to enter into negotiations. The Air Force claimed it had no duty to negotiate over three of the Union's proposals, prompting the Union to appeal the FLRA. The FLRA determined that the Air Force had an obligation to negotiate over two of the three disputed proposals and the Air Force subsequently petitioned for review of the unfavorable rulings. Because the Air Force's objections to the FLRA's rulings were either waived or unavailing, the petition for review was denied. View "U.S. Dept. of the Air Force v. FLRA" on Justia Law

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Appellant appealed the district court's dismissal of his claim challenging his separation under the Army Qualitative Management Program (QMP) for failure to "meet Army standards." Appellant argued that because an Administrative Separation Board (ASB) found that a preponderance of the evidence did not support the allegation that he had wrongfully used marijuana, his separation under the QMP was unlawful. The district court found, and the court agreed, that because appellant did not specifically challenge the QMP action in his 2002 and 2006 applications to the Army Board of Correction of Military Records (ABCMR), the matter was not properly subject to judicial review. In regards to appellant's second contention pertaining to the termination of his Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) process, the court reversed the decision of the district court and instructed the trial court to remand the case for further proceedings. View "Coburn v. McHugh" on Justia Law

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Appellants, as representatives of the estates of their deceased sons, brought this action against federal officials and employees in district court seeking money damages relating to the alleged mistreatment and eventual death of those sons while they were detained at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. The district court granted the motion of the United States to be substituted as defendant and the motion of the United States for dismissal of the claims. Because the court was satisfied that neither the district court nor this court had jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action due to the jurisdictional bar created by section 7(a) of the Military Commissions Act (MCA), 28 U.S.C. 2241(e), the court affirmed the judgment of dismissal, although on different grounds than those relied upon by the district court. The court held that the Supreme Court did not declare section 2241(e)(2) unconstitutional under Boumediene v. Bush and that provision retained vitality to bar those claims. Therefore, the decision of the district court dismissing the claims should be affirmed, although for lack of jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) rather than for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). View "Al-Zahrani v. Rodriquez" on Justia Law

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In the mid-1990's, the Navy began providing employees with bottled water after an EPA report indicated that water fountains in some Navy buildings in Newport contained components manufactured with lead. Beginning in 2005, the Navy replaced the problematic water fountains, tested the tap water, and determined it safe to drink. The Navy then stopped providing bottled water; it did not negotiate with employee unions before removing the bottled water. The unions objected to the removal of the bottled water. Funds appropriated for agency operations could be used for "necessary expenses" but not for employees' "personal expenses." As the Comptroller General has long determined, when safe and drinkable tap water was available in the workplace, bottled water constituted a personal expense for which appropriated funds could not be expended. Under federal collective bargaining law, moreover, an agency had not duty or authority to bargain over or grant benefits that were "inconsistent with any Federal law." Therefore, if safe and drinkable tap water was available at the Newport facilities, the Navy had no authority or duty to bargain before removing the bottled water. View "US Dept. of the Navy v. FLRA" on Justia Law

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The United States appealed the district court's grant of the writ of habeas corpus to the detainee. Three errors in the district court's analysis required the court to vacate that decision. First, the court failed to accord an official government record a presumption of regularity. Second, the district court failed to determine the detainee's credibility even though the court relied on his declaration to discredit the Government's key evidence. Third, the court's unduly atomized approach to the evidence was one the court rejected. The court remanded so the district court could evaluate the detainee's credibility as needed in light of the totality of the circumstances. View "Latif, et al. v. Obama, et al." on Justia Law

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Appellant, a detainee at the United States naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, appealed the denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. At issue was whether the district court erred in concluding that intelligence reports offered by the government to prove his membership in the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) cell were reliable. The court held that there was no error in the district court's careful consideration of the evidence and affirmed the denial of appellant's petition. View "Khan v. Obama, et al." on Justia Law