Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The plaintiffs formed the Fredericksburg partnership to search for oil and contracted with Kraft for management services. The IRS began a criminal investigation of the partnership, Kraft, and Kraft principals Valeri and Blum. In 2003, the plaintiffs and the IRS settled allegations against the partnership in exchange for the payment of taxes for the tax year 1994. The statute of limitations for 1994 tax liability had expired, but the IRS had obtained a waiver from Valeri. The plaintiffs allege that the IRS did not sign the agreement and Valeri could not waive the statute of limitations on plaintiffs’ behalf, 26 U.S.C. 6229(a)–(b); that the IRS never sent the plaintiffs required notices that the IRS had begun an administrative proceeding, 26 U.S.C. 6223(a); and that plaintiffs did not discover these alleged violations until 2009. The plaintiffs never sent formal refund claims but filed suit in 2012. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of the refund claims for lack of jurisdiction for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and claims for damages because they alleged IRS errors only in assessing taxes, not in collecting them, and were outside the scope of section 7433. The court rejected claims to exceptions under the “informal claim doctrine,” noting that the plaintiffs never perfected their claims. View "Goldberg v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Milchteins have 15 children. The two eldest refused to return home in 2011-2012 and were placed in foster care by Wisconsin state court orders. In federal court, the Milchteins argued that state officials violated the federal Constitution by either discriminating against or failing to accommodate their views of family management in the Chabad understanding of Orthodox Judaism. Those children now are adults. State proceedings with respect to them are closed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Milchteins’ suit as moot, rejecting arguments the district court could have entered a declaratory judgment because the Milchteins still have 12 minor children, who might precipitate the same sort of controversy. The Milchteins did not seek alteration of the state court judgment, so the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not block this suit but it is blocked by the requirement of justiciability. The Milchteins want a federal judge to say where a state judge erred but not act on that error: “a naked request for an advisory opinion.” If Wisconsin again starts judicial proceedings concerning the Milchteins’ children, the "Younger" doctrine would require the federal tribunal to abstain. Younger abstention may be inappropriate if the very existence of state proceedings violated the First Amendment but the Milchteins do not contend that it is never permissible for a state to inquire into the welfare of a religious leader’s children. View "Milchtein v. Chisholm" on Justia Law

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The Milchteins have 15 children. The two eldest refused to return home in 2011-2012 and were placed in foster care by Wisconsin state court orders. In federal court, the Milchteins argued that state officials violated the federal Constitution by either discriminating against or failing to accommodate their views of family management in the Chabad understanding of Orthodox Judaism. Those children now are adults. State proceedings with respect to them are closed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Milchteins’ suit as moot, rejecting arguments the district court could have entered a declaratory judgment because the Milchteins still have 12 minor children, who might precipitate the same sort of controversy. The Milchteins did not seek alteration of the state court judgment, so the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not block this suit but it is blocked by the requirement of justiciability. The Milchteins want a federal judge to say where a state judge erred but not act on that error: “a naked request for an advisory opinion.” If Wisconsin again starts judicial proceedings concerning the Milchteins’ children, the "Younger" doctrine would require the federal tribunal to abstain. Younger abstention may be inappropriate if the very existence of state proceedings violated the First Amendment but the Milchteins do not contend that it is never permissible for a state to inquire into the welfare of a religious leader’s children. View "Milchtein v. Chisholm" on Justia Law

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Delgado, an ATF agent, alleges that his supervisors retaliated against him after he reported his suspicions that another agent improperly shot at a fleeing suspect, provided an inaccurate report, and testified falsely about the incident. Delgado filed a whistleblower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which is charged with investigating allegations under the Whistleblower Protection Act, 5 U.S.C. 1214(a)(1)(A), 2302(b)(8). The OSC declined to investigate, telling Delgado that he had not made a disclosure protected by the Act and had failed to provide sufficient evidence to support his allegations of retaliation. The Merit Systems Protection Board dismissed his appeal, finding that Delgado had not satisfied the requirement that he “seek corrective action before the Special Counsel before seeking corrective action from the Board.” The Seventh Circuit remanded, finding that the OSC and the Board applied unduly stringent and arbitrary requirements. Delgado’s disclosure of suspected wrongdoing either explicitly accused another federal employee of perjury or provided sufficient evidence to justify such a suspicion worthy of consideration by superiors. Either version would be a protected disclosure. The Act requires only that a complainant fairly present his claim with enough specificity to enable the agency to investigate and does not require a whistleblower to prove his allegations before the OSC. View "Delgado v. Merit Systems Protection Board" on Justia Law

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Delgado, an ATF agent, alleges that his supervisors retaliated against him after he reported his suspicions that another agent improperly shot at a fleeing suspect, provided an inaccurate report, and testified falsely about the incident. Delgado filed a whistleblower complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which is charged with investigating allegations under the Whistleblower Protection Act, 5 U.S.C. 1214(a)(1)(A), 2302(b)(8). The OSC declined to investigate, telling Delgado that he had not made a disclosure protected by the Act and had failed to provide sufficient evidence to support his allegations of retaliation. The Merit Systems Protection Board dismissed his appeal, finding that Delgado had not satisfied the requirement that he “seek corrective action before the Special Counsel before seeking corrective action from the Board.” The Seventh Circuit remanded, finding that the OSC and the Board applied unduly stringent and arbitrary requirements. Delgado’s disclosure of suspected wrongdoing either explicitly accused another federal employee of perjury or provided sufficient evidence to justify such a suspicion worthy of consideration by superiors. Either version would be a protected disclosure. The Act requires only that a complainant fairly present his claim with enough specificity to enable the agency to investigate and does not require a whistleblower to prove his allegations before the OSC. View "Delgado v. Merit Systems Protection Board" on Justia Law

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In 1987, African‐Americans filed suit against Chicago Heights, alleging dilution of voting opportunity. The election practices at issue were found to violate the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. 10101. Appellants split from other class plaintiffs and objected to the first consent decree; they have been the main opposition to proposed remedies. In 2010, the district court entered a consent decree, establishing a seven‐ward, single aldermanic form of government; including a ward map that complied with constitutional requirements; and requiring the city to reapportion the wards as the population changed. The subsequent 2010 census showed that the wards’ populations had changed, requiring reapportionment. After public comment, the city approved its redrawn ward map and sought approval of that map. Appellants objected and sought leave to file their own map for implementation by the court. The court held that the Decree gave the city the exclusive right to reapportion the wards. The city’s map still contained seven wards, each with an individual population deviation of less than 10 percent. However, the overall deviation was 12.65%. The Seventh Circuit affirmed that the proposed map is constitutional. The city presented sufficient justification and made a good faith effort to reapportion the map with the smallest population deviations practicable, using legitimate and nondiscriminatory objectives, such as maintaining historical and natural boundary lines where possible, and easing voter confusion by redrawing unusual boundaries. View "McCoy v. Chicago Heights Election Commission" on Justia Law

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In 1987, African‐Americans filed suit against Chicago Heights, alleging dilution of voting opportunity. The election practices at issue were found to violate the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. 10101. Appellants split from other class plaintiffs and objected to the first consent decree; they have been the main opposition to proposed remedies. In 2010, the district court entered a consent decree, establishing a seven‐ward, single aldermanic form of government; including a ward map that complied with constitutional requirements; and requiring the city to reapportion the wards as the population changed. The subsequent 2010 census showed that the wards’ populations had changed, requiring reapportionment. After public comment, the city approved its redrawn ward map and sought approval of that map. Appellants objected and sought leave to file their own map for implementation by the court. The court held that the Decree gave the city the exclusive right to reapportion the wards. The city’s map still contained seven wards, each with an individual population deviation of less than 10 percent. However, the overall deviation was 12.65%. The Seventh Circuit affirmed that the proposed map is constitutional. The city presented sufficient justification and made a good faith effort to reapportion the map with the smallest population deviations practicable, using legitimate and nondiscriminatory objectives, such as maintaining historical and natural boundary lines where possible, and easing voter confusion by redrawing unusual boundaries. View "McCoy v. Chicago Heights Election Commission" on Justia Law

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E.F., a motor carrier licensed in Indiana to transport beer, wine, and liquor, entered into talks with Indiana Wholesale, a liquor and wine wholesaler, to deliver its wares. Twice the parties sought approval from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. Indiana’s prohibited-interest laws require strict separation of beer and liquor wholesaling. The Commission was concerned that E.F shares the same ownership and management as Monarch. a licensed beer and wine wholesaler, so E.F. might be deemed to hold an interest in Monarch’s wholesaling permit, which might block its venture with Indiana Wholesale. The Commission never definitively ruled on the proposal. Because of the issue, E.F. and Indiana Wholesale broke off their plan. E.F. sought declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, arguing that enforcement of Indiana’s prohibited-interest statutes is preempted by federal law. The district court dismissed the claim as unripe based on the aborted business relationship and regulatory uncertainty. In separate litigation, while an appeal was pending, the Indiana Supreme Court held that, given their shared ownership and management, E.F. would hold an interest in Monarch’s beer wholesaling permit under Indiana’s prohibited-interest laws. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the state ruling and the standing threat of prosecution were enough to remove any ripeness barrier. E.F. need not violate the law and expose itself to punishment to raise its preemption claim. View "E.F. Transit, Inc. v. Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission" on Justia Law

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Cullinan unsuccessfully sought Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income based on several impairments, most of which arose after she suffered a stroke: anxiety, depression, peripheral blindness in one eye, diabetes, obesity, and sleep apnea. An administrative law judge determined that although Cullinan has several impairments, she is not disabled. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The ALJ’s decision to discredit Cullinan’s testimony and that of her treating psychologist was unsupported by the record because the ALJ’s examples of Cullinan’s daily activities and social interactions did “not remotely describe a ‘very active’ lifestyle.” The ALJ did not adequately explain the conclusion that the doctor’s notes were inconsistent with his opinion and did not consider Cullinan’s daily extended naps and frequent debilitating headaches in determining her residual functional capacity. No evidence contradicted Cullinan’s testimony about those limitations. The vocational expert said that needing to take a two-hour nap every day would rule out all work. The ALJ has the burden to develop the record and assess whether symptoms are disabling. View "Cullinan v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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In November 2005, Lee was admitted to the U.S. as a nonimmigrant student's spouse. In March 2006, the Temple sought a nonimmigrant religious worker (R-1) visa for Lee. That petition remained pending in USCIS’s California Service Center (CSC) for almost four years. In October 2009, CSC indicated that USCIS intended to approve the petition and retroactively amend Lee’s status, to give her lawful status June 2006-May 2009 and that the Temple could apply for an extension for the remaining eligibility period, through May 2011. CSC’s approval notice stated that the R‐1 visa was valid through May 2009. CSC later approved an extension, covering May 2010-October 2011, leaving a gap in Lee’s lawful status. A November 2010 I‐360 petition, seeking classification as a special immigrant religious worker, stated that Lee had worked for the Temple since October 2009. CSC denied the application because Lee had worked when she did not have a valid visa. In June 2013, CSC agreed to eliminate the gap; CSC approved the I‐360 petition. In December 2013, Lee sought to adjust her status to lawful permanent resident. The Nebraska Service Center denied Lee’s application, noting a status violation. USCIS indicated its intent to revoke the I‐360 petition for failure to establish that Lee had worked continuously in a qualifying occupation for two years immediately preceding the application. The Temple responded that CSC had unreasonably delayed the initial application. USCIS considered that an admission and revoked the I‐360. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of a petition for judicial review. The revocation at issue is the type of discretionary action that 8 U.S.C. 1252(a)(2)(B)(ii) bars from judicial review. View "Bultasa Buddhist Temple of Chicago v. Nielsen" on Justia Law