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U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

Reuters: Srinivasan or Garland Likely to Be Obama's SCOTUS Pick

Reuters' Julia Edwards reports that President Barack Obama is likely to pick one of two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. His selection has come down to Judge Sri Srinivasan, who, if confirmed, would be the first Asian American to serve on the nation's highest court, or Judge Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit.

The announcement is expected as soon as tomorrow.

Senate Republicans have vowed not to hold confirmation hearings on any nominee the president names to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Protestors Don't Have Free Speech Rights at U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last week that protestors don't have the right to demonstrate closer to the U.S. Supreme Court than the sidewalk out front, The Washington Post's Robert Barnes reports. A law forbids demonstrations on the high court's grounds on the theory that closer protests could lead to the perception that the justices are swayed by public pressure.

U.S. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote that the Supreme Court's plaza "is designed as an extension of the court ... and restrictions on protests there need only be reasonable and viewpoint-neutral."

Appeals Court Reinstates Wage Protections for Home Care Workers

The District of Columbia Circuit has unanimously upheld regulations to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to workers who take care of the elderly and the disabled in their homes, The New York Times' Noam Scheiber reports. The Obama administration enacted regulations to end an exemption from overtime and minimum wage laws for home-care workers.

D.C. Appeals Court Throws Out Tax Rule on Obamacare Subsidies

A major blow has been delivered today to Obamacare, Reuters reports: "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit accepted one of the main legal challenges to the policy by conservatives opposed to an expansion of the federal government" and threw out the federal tax regulation that implements Obamacare subsidies available to people with annual incomes of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Senate Completes Overhaul of D.C. Circuit

With Robert Wilkins' confirmation to the D.C. Circuit by the U.S.. Senate, President Obama's overhaul of "the country's second most powerful court" is complete, the Associated Press reports. Now there is a 7-4 majority in favor of the Democracts on the court that hears appeals of federal rules and regulations.

Case Could Leave Department of Justice Impervious From FOIA

Just Security's Steve Vladeck's writes that last week's decision finding a Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel memo is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act "may have the effect, unintended or otherwise, of insulating virtually all nonpublic OLC memos and opinions from FOIA requests–regardless of their subject-matter or sensitivity." (The opinion regards the FBI's use of exigent National Security Letters.)

Vladeck writes the D.C. Circuit reasoned that the memo was exempt under Exemption 5 for "'inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency.'" The court said the memo was not the "working law" of the FBI. Documents developed under a federal agency's working law are not exempt under Exemption 5. The problem is that Office of Legal Counsel's "memos are generally viewed as authoritative guidance to the rest of the Executive Branch when it comes to the scope of the government’s legal authorities–whether or not they are 'adopted' as such," Vladeck concludes.

Judicial Nominees Could Still Be Blocked Despite New Filibuster Limits

The New York Times' Charlie Savage reports that Senate Republicans can still block some  of President Obama's judicial nominees despite the elimination of filibusters for most such nominations. Obama's nominees to federal appellate courts can still be blocked because "it left unchanged the Senate’s 'blue slip' custom, which allows senators to block nominees to judgeships associated with their states," Savage reports. The rule change will really only benefit appellate nominees for the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler told Savage.        

Guantanamo Detainee Legal Challenge Heard By En Banc Appellate Court

ALM's The Legal Times reports on en banc arguments held yesterday "in a case that could undo a terrorism conviction and reshape how the government prosecutes criminal charges against other detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

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