The Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the conclusion of both Judge Marrero and the Second Circuit (see our coverage here) that President Trump was not immune from a grand jury subpoena issued by the Manhattan District Attorney. Writing for a 7-2 majority, Chief Justice Roberts concluded that the immunity sought ran “against 200 years of precedent”: Continue Reading Case Over DA Subpoena to Trump Returns from Supreme Court to Judge Marrero

In an opinion today, Chief Judge McMahon upheld a New York executive order that allowed tenants to apply their security deposits towards rent and that temporarily suspended evictions.

She ruled that the executive order did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Takings Clause because landlords necessarily have entered into a heavily regulated area of the economy, and because the executive order was consistent with the type of ordinary ebb and flow of that regulation — as opposed to an impermissible destruction of landlords’ property investment: Continue Reading Chief Judge McMahon Upholds New York’s COVID-19 Eviction Suspension

On Wednesday, Judge Rakoff granted summary judgment in favor of New York State and the Kings County District Attorney in their challenge to a decision by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (“ICE”) to greatly increase civil immigration arrests in and around courthouses. Plaintiffs had alleged that the directive exceeded ICE’s statutory authority and had been adopted in an arbitrary and capricious manner. See our previous coverage here.

Judge Rakoff agreed, finding that the Immigration and Nationality Act incorporated the “centuries-old common law privilege against courthouse civil arrest.”  He also found that ICE had “offered no rationale other than its misguided reliance” on an Executive Order, which had directed the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize immigration enforcement against broader categories of aliens but was not addressed to courthouse arrests. Judge Rakoff’s ruling also emphasized the that ICE’s policy was compounding the challenges already presented by COVID-19: Continue Reading Judge Rakoff: ICE Policy of Making Immigration Arrests at Courthouses is Illegal

Last week, Chief Judge McMahon scheduled what appears to be the first remote trial to be held in the Southern District during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The trial will commence on July 6, 2020 in Ferring Pharmaceuticals v. Serenity Pharmaceuticals, a patent dispute involving drugs used to treat the condition nocturia (a form of waking during the night).

Judge McMahon considered several issues that counseled in favor of a remote trial: Continue Reading Judge McMahon: Holding Bench Trial in July via Remote Platform is a “No-Brainer”

In an opinion yesterday, the Second Circuit affirmed Judge Torres’s decision (covered here), to reinstate the Democratic Primary on June 23.

The Board of Elections argued that the cancellation was necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19, but the Second Circuit concluded that this “justification is overstated for at least two reasons”: Continue Reading Second Circuit Upholds Reinstatement of Democratic Primary

In an opinion today, Judge Furman granted a motion for sanctions against the Department of Justice for failing to review and produce hundreds of relevant documents in the litigation over when a citizenship question could be included in the 2020 Census (see our previous coverage here).  The case centered on whether the inclusion of the citizenship question was a proper exercise of executive authority. The withheld documents provided evidence that the question was included to assist in political redistricting efforts, and that the stated justification (that the question was added to help enforce the Voting Rights Act) was pretextual.

While Judge Furman agreed that the conduct was sanctionable, he noted that the most appropriate remedy – judgment in favor of the plaintiffs – had already occurred: Continue Reading Judge Furman Sanctions DOJ in Census Citizenship Question Case

In an opinion this morning, Judge Vyskocil denied an application for a TRO by a Queens Republican who sought to have her name on the ballot for the June 23 primary.  The plaintiff’s complaint was focused on the fact that, due to the spread of COVID-19, New York had reduced the number of days available to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot.

Judge Vyskocil denied the application because (among other reasons) she found that the State’s interest in controlling COVID-19 met the standard of “reasonable and nondiscriminatory” necessary to justify the shorter time period, particularly given that the State also correspondingly reduced the number of signatures required: Continue Reading Judge Vyskocil Denies Congressional Candidate TRO Arising from Reduction in Number of Days to Gather Signatures to Appear on Ballot

Last fall, hundreds of lawsuits were filed in the Southern District of New York alleging that retailers and restaurants that failed to offer gift cards with Braille lettering for sale violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (see a Steptoe summary of this wave of complaints here).

Judge Woods recently decided the first two of these cases:  Dominguez v. Banana Republic and Murphy v. Kohl’s Department Stores.  In both cases, Judge Woods dismissed the complaints for lack of standing and failure to state a claim.  Judge Woods held that a Braille gift card is a specialty good that merchants are not required to stock under the ADA’s implementing regulations.  He further held that the ADA empowers retailers to choose which auxiliary aids they offer, rather than allowing customers to demand a particular aid.

The opinions also take issue with the duplicative “copy and paste” nature of these complaints, which lacked specific allegations sufficient to create standing.  In the Murphy opinion, Judge Woods found that the plaintiff had failed to allege an intent to return to the store where he was denied service.  The opinion notes that: Continue Reading Judge Woods Tosses First Suits Claiming that ADA Requires Braille Gift Cards (Steptoe Success)

Yesterday, Judge Torres issued a preliminary injunction ordering the New York State Board of Elections to reinstate the Democratic presidential primary that it had decided last week to cancel. Former candidate Andrew Yang and a number of his pledged delegates sued to halt the move.

As Judge Torres found, because a primary “actually results in the election of delegates to the Convention,” the cancellation would not only deprive the other presidential candidates of the opportunity to earn votes for the nomination, but would deprive their pledged delegates of the opportunity to influence the party platform and vote on issues of party governance.  Although Judge Torres agreed that “[p]rotecting the public from the spread of COVID-19 is an important state interest,” she was “not convinced that canceling the primary would meaningfully advance that interest,” particularly because there were less drastic alternatives:

Continue Reading Judge Torres Orders Reinstatement of New York Democratic Primary

On Monday, the New York State Board of Elections voted to cancel New York’s democratic presidential primary, which it had originally postponed from April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In a complaint filed Tuesday, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and a group of candidates running to become pledged delegates at the Democratic National Convention sued the Board of Elections to block the move.

Plaintiffs argue that the cancellation would disenfranchise millions of voters, suppress turnout in down-ballot races to the detriment of challengers, deny Yang the opportunity to accumulate delegates and influence at the convention, and establish a precedent that President Trump could use to cancel the November 2020 election.  Plaintiffs allege violations of the right to vote and of procedural due process and are seeking emergency relief.

Plaintiffs argue that the primary can safely proceed if voters are simply allowed to vote by mail, and that it is “cancelling democracy” to simply shut down the primary: Continue Reading Andrew Yang Sues New York State Board of Elections for Canceling Democratic Primary