Your 10 Favorite D.C. Circuit Posts of 2014

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on December 31, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Whenever something goes wrong with our nation's governance, the D.C. Circuit is the first to hear about it. (Well, really, it's the second -- after the D.C. District Court.) From lawsuits against the president to immigration challenges, the D.C. Circuit has seen it all.

So what did you, dear readers, find the most interesting in 2014? Take a look out our Top 10 D.C. Circuit Posts of 2014:

10. Judge Disses Think Tank's 'Imaginative' FOIA Request -- The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, made a FOIA request for EPA documents that were suspiciously numbered "-0." Was the EPA using this negative zero numbering to avoid discovery? Not really: That's how the EPA designates documents without tracking numbers.

9. Doctors' Obamacare Lawsuit Dismissal Affirmed by D.C. Circuit -- Doctors (and the conservative legal organizations that recruited them as plaintiffs) were busy this year. This imaginative suit claimed that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional because, as a revenue-generating bill, it should have originated in the House of Representatives, not the Senate. This one got dismissed.

8. Brazilian Steakhouse Chef Has 'Specialized Knowledge': D.C. Cir. -- A special visa program allows foreigners with "specialized knowledge" to become temporary residents. Turns out that the skills required to be a chef in a Brazilian steakhouse qualify. Who wants more chicken hearts?

7. Chelsea Manning Sues Over Transgender Treatment in Prison -- After being sentenced for leaking documents to Julian Assange, Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning declared he was now Chelsea Manning and repeatedly asked to be able to comport herself like a female in prison. After the Army dragged its feet, Manning ended up filing a federal complaint to get the Army to treat her like anyone else.

6. Obamacare Tax Credit Lawsuit Struck Down by D.C. District Court -- This ACA challenge actually went somewhere. The D.C. Circuit said tax subsidies apply only in states that set up their own exchanges, meaning residents of about 30 states would have to pay full price for health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court has since taken up the issue, putting an en banc hearing of Halbig v. Sebelius on hold.

5. D.C. Circuit Panel Skeptical of IRS in Obamacare Subsidy Lawsuit -- At oral arguments in Halbig, the three-judge panel didn't buy the IRS' reading of the ACA, which would have saved the subsidies. Basically, they said, if Congress drafted a stupid rule, the courts can't come in and save it.

4. Changes to Law Clerk Hiring by D.C. Circuit Judges Start in 2014 -- This year saw the final arrow pierce the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan. With most elite law schools and judges negotiating for clerks directly, the Hiring Plan -- which was supposed to make law clerk hiring easier -- became redundant. In 2014, the D.C. Circuit (arguably the most elite, sought-after circuit for clerks) said it was doing its own thing and established its own time-table.

3. American Samoans Challenge Denial of U.S. Citizenship -- Are citizens of American Samoa U.S. citizens or just "nationals"? The D.C. District Court said Congress only intended for them to be nationals, so they don't get automatic American citizenship and need to apply for it like anyone else. The case is pending appeal.

2. D.C. Fed. Courts May Eliminate Reciprocity Rule -- Washington, D.C., federal courts announced a plan to change to their reciprocity rule. Under the new rule, any lawyer admitted to practice in any state could be granted admission to practice in D.C. (The old rule allowed only lawyers admitted in states with reciprocity agreements with D.C.)

1. Jury Scams, Arrest Warrant Scams, and Email Scams in D.C. Courts -- Oh My! -- In the most popular post of the year, the D.C. courts were plagued by the same scams that have hit other court systems. These include emails claiming to come from a D.C. federal court threatening arrest if the recipient doesn't pay, or telling the recipient to provide personal information and come to a hearing or face arrest. Apparently no court is safe from scams.

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