Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fire Up the Minivan (and Other Highlights)

Recent federal appellate highlights:

Fire Up the Minivan
Costco is already at the Supreme Court, the petitioner in a trademark case to be argued in November.  Last week, Wal-Mart also arrived, albeit only at the certiorari stage, with a petition challenging certification of a million-member (or more) class.  Plaintiffs in the case, female Wal-Mart employees, allege gender discrimination.  Both the Costco and Wal-Mart cases come from the Ninth Circuit.

Court as Amicus?
Not exactly, but close.  Last week, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a press release stating that it not only "supports," but had "requested" an amici brief filed by the Arkansas attorney general with the Eighth Circuit.  The brief, joined by four other attorneys general (all from Eighth Circuit states), supports a petition for rehearing en banc. 

The Eighth Circuit recently struck down, as unconstitutional under the First Amendment, Minnesota rules that ban judicial candidates from directly soliciting campaign funds and endorsing other candidates.  Arkansas has comparable rules, which its high court views as "imperative in maintaining the appearance of and actual fairness and impartiality in our courts."  The press release and brief are linked here.

Previous coverage of cases and issues related to electing judges is here (see "The Ballot Box") and here (Justice O'Connor's initiative).

Just So You Know
Recently, the federal government made two DC Circuit filings, informing the court of what it will not be doing.  First, the government will not go forward in the near future with prosecuting the alleged orchestrator of the USS Cole bombing, who is being held at Guantanamo, though the ten-year anniversary of that attack approaches.  Perhaps, as the Washington Post reports, citing a military source, the administration first wants civilian trials for other prominent Guantanamo detainees to be on the horizon.

Second, the government will not meet its target date for releasing final ozone standards (release not legally required then; new estimate is end of October).  The delay may simply reflect more work to be done, as the filing states, but may also cabin the controversial issue during the election season, according to a New York Times article.