National Park Service Regulations Struck Down on First Amendment Grounds, and Administrative, Civil Procedure and Environmental Matters

By FindLaw Staff on August 09, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Boardley v. US Dep't of the Interior, No. 09-5176, involved a challenge to National Park Service regulations making it unlawful to engage in expressive activities within any national park unless a park official first issues a permit authorizing the activity.  The court reversed the partial grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment, on the ground that the regulations in their current form were antithetical to the core First Amendment principle that restrictions on free speech in a public forum may be valid only if narrowly tailored.

Howmet Corp. v. EPA, No. 09-5360, concerned an action claiming that the EPA's "spent material" hazardous waste regulation violated the Administrative Procedure Act.  The court affirmed summary judgment for defendant on the grounds that 1) the text of the EPA's definition was simply ambiguous with respect to whether the court should adopt plaintiff's "multiple, original purposes" approach to determining when a material is "spent," or whether the court should, instead, adopt the "original use"-based purpose test advanced by the EPA; and 2) the EPA's explanation of the definition of spent material in its Guidance Manual should have put plaintiff on notice of the EPA's interpretation of its "spent material" definition.

MBI Group, Inc. v. Credit Foncier du Cameroun, No. 09-7079, involved an action against the government of Cameroon and a state-owned mortgage finance corporation, alleging a breach of an agreement to develop low-cost housing.  The court affirmed the dismissal of the action based on forum non conveniens, holding that 1) plaintiffs consistently worked to undermine their suit in Cameroon, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that their efforts succeeded; and 2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the public and private interests strongly favored dismissal.

NetCoalition v. SEC, No. 09-1042, concerned a petition for review of the SEC's approval of NYSE Arca's proposal to charge a fee to investors for access to its proprietary "depth-of-book" product.  The court granted the petition on the ground that the SEC did not adequately explain the basis of its approval nor, on this record, support its conclusion with substantial evidence.

Phillips v. Fulwood, No. 08-5385, involved an action claiming that plaintiff-inmate should be subject to the parole rules in effect at the time of his conviction in determining his eligibility.  The court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, holding that there was no significant risk that application of the 2000 regulations had prolonged plaintiff's incarceration.

In US v. Maynard, No. 08-3030, the court affirmed in part defendants' convictions for conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 50 grams or more of cocaine base, holding that 1) considering all the circumstances surrounding the stop, a reasonable person in defendant's position would have felt free to decline the officer's request that he answer additional questions; and 2) the validity of an earlier indictment was irrelevant here because defendants were charged and tried pursuant to the superseding indictment.  However, the court reversed one defendant's conviction on the ground that it was obtained with evidence procured in violation of the Fourth Amendment through the use of a GPS device.

In US v. Tepper, No. 08-3115, the court affirmed defendant's sentence for possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine, on the ground that defendant could not proceed under 18 U.S.C. section 3582(c)(2) because the Sentencing Commission's amendments did not lower the sentencing range on which his sentence was based.

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