It’s that time of the year again. Kids are back in school, leaves are falling and judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit are headed back to the courtroom.
The D.C. Circuit will begin to hear oral arguments for the new term Thursday. While the public calendar of arguments is subject to change and only lists argument through late October, a glance at the schedule shows a term full of thorny legal quandaries and unique cases.
Don’t want to sift through the entire argument calendar? Fear not, we’ve done it for you. Here are 10 cases to watch this fall:
Bread for the City v. U.S. Department of Agriculture
What: Bread for the City is a D.C.-based nonprofit organization that combats hunger and poverty. The group sued the Agriculture Department in 2015 alleging the agency didn’t pay enough money into the Emergency Food Assistance Program as required under the 2014 Farm Bill. The group argued on appeal that the district court’s decision to dismiss the case ignored the clear text of the statute.
Who: A team from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius represents Bread for the City, including Bryan Killian, Clara Kollm and Thomas Richard Lotterman. For the USDA, it’s Jaynie Randall Lilley and Mark Stern at the Justice Department.
Mayo v. Michael T. Reynolds
What: Bears, elk and courts, oh my! This case considers whether the National Park Service authorized elk hunts in Grand Teton National Park in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedure Act. The appellants include Wyoming residents and wildlife photographers Kent Nelson and Timothy Mayo, who allege the government didn’t properly consider the “disruptive” effects of hunts on grizzly bears in the area. The state of Wyoming and Safari Club International intervened on behalf of the NPS. The lower court ruled that the government properly satisfied its obligations.
Who: For Mayo and Nelson, it’s Eric Glitzenstein and Katherine Anne Meyer of Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks. For the government it’s Rachel Heron, John David Gunter II and Andrew Mergen.
When: Sept. 11
Detroit International Bridge v. Government of Canada
What: This one is a bridge battle. Appellant Detroit International Bridge Co. owns the Ambassador Bridge, a busy connection between Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. The bridge is privately owned, but Michigan has an agreement with Canada to build a new, publicly-owned bridge named after Detroit Red Wings star Gordie Howe. The lower court ruled that while the company had standing to sue, it did not have exclusive rights to operate such a bridge. The company argues it did have such a right, so the U.S. and Canadian governments’ agreements on the new bridge are invalid.
Who: Boies Schiller Flexner’s Hamish Hume represents DIBC. Canada is represented by Eugene Elling Smary of Warner Norcross & Judd. The United States is represented by Robert Lundman, John Gunter, Matt Littleton and Jeffrey Wood.
When: Sept. 14
Butte County, California v. Jonodev Chaudhuri
What: This decade-old fight concerns a proposed tribal casino near Chico, California, and has already been up to the appeals court and back through the lower court. Butte County sued the Interior Department for allowing the Mechoopda Indian Tribe to use a chunk of land to build a 42,000-square-foot casino. The D.C. Circuit remanded a 2008 decision from the lower court in 2010, requiring Interior to revisit the decision. The case is now back at the appeals court, where the county argues a historian’s report shows the tribe does not have a strong enough claim to the land. The tribe has also intervened on behalf of DOI.
Who: Dickinson Wright’s Dennis Whittlesey represents Butte County. The government’s lawyers include Jeffrey Beelaert, William Lazarus and Robert Stockman. The tribe’s lawyer is Michael Jon Anderson of Anderson Indian Law.
When: Sept. 15
Republic of Argentina v. AWG Group
What: At the heart of this dispute is an international arbitration award against Argentina in favor of AWG Group for more than $20 million. AWG had an agreement with Argentina to operate water systems in Buenos Aires, and claimed the nation breached the contract in various ways. The arbitration proceeding took 12 years, and now Argentina wants the D.C. Circuit to overturn the district court’s confirmation of the award.
Argentina argues the arbitrator was not impartial because she had previously ruled against the country, though the district court’s ruling said the record did not suggest a bias.
Who: Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton’s Matthew Slater represents Argentina. For AWG Group, it’s Elliot Friedman and David Livshiz of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
When: Sept. 19
North America’s Building Trades Unions v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration
What: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued its final rule to regulate worker exposure to crystalline silica dust, which can cause cancer and other illnesses, in March 2016. The rule was met with a flurry of lawsuits from businesses and construction trade groups challenging the agency decision. They’ve been consolidated in the D.C. Circuit, which will consider whether OSHA improperly promulgated the rule by using insufficient evidence to set the exposure limit.
Who: Sherman, Dunn, Cohen, Leifer & Yellig’s Victoria Louise Bor represents the NABTU, and lawyers from firms including Hunton & Williams, Consovoy McCarthy Park and Jackson Lewis represent various business and trade intervenors. For OSHA, it’s Lauren Goodman, Kristen Lindberg, Heather Phillips and Nathaniel Spiller of the Labor Department.
When: Sept. 26
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants v. IRS
What: Call this one “Revenge of the Accountants.” The American Institute of CPAs challenges a lower court’s dismissal of its lawsuit against the IRS over a program for noncredentialed tax preparers on the grounds the group was not entitled to sue.
The group claims the IRS did not have the authority to promulgate its Annual Filing Season Program, a voluntary program under which tax preparers complete training and an exam for a special certification. The group said that even though the program is voluntary, it’s de facto mandatory because of incentives to participate.
Who: Douglas Cox, Russell Balikian and Matthew Rozen of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher represent AICPA. The Justice Department’s Bethany Buck Hauser, Jonathan Cohen, Channing Phillips, Gilbert Rothenberg and Francesca Ugolini represent the IRS.
When: Oct. 5
Safari Club International v. Zinke
What: The Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association filed this lawsuit in 2014 against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its ban on imports of elephant trophies from hunts in Zimbabwe. The NRA and SCI originally appealed the lower court’s denial of a preliminary injunction, but voluntarily dismissed that case before an opinion was issued. Now, the groups have appealed the lower court’s dismissal of most of their claims in the case, arguing the government’s findings supporting the ban were arbitrary and capricious.
Who: The Safari Club is represented by in-house lawyers Douglas Burdin and Anna Seidman. Same with the NRA, represented by Christopher Conte and Michael Jean. For the government, it’s Avi Kupfer, Jeffrey Heath Wood, Matt Littleton and Andrew Mergen.
When: Oct. 13
Sierra Club v. DOE
What: There are three “Sierra Club v. DOE” cases that are set to be heard on Oct. 18. Each is a challenge by the Sierra Club to the Energy Department’s approval of exports from several liquified natural gas projects, including those in Maryland, Texas and Louisiana. The Sierra Club has filed a series of similar lawsuits over the past few years claiming DOE failed to properly review and consider the environmental impacts of increased LNG production. The case numbers for each are 16-1186, 16-1253 and 16-1252.
Who: Sierra Club’s in-house lawyers on these cases are Sanjay Narayan and Nathan Matthews. A group including Emily Polachek, John Cruden, John Gunter, David Shilton and John Smeltzer represents the government.
When: Oct. 18
Smith v. Trump
What: Nathan Smith is a U.S. Army captain who was deployed in Kuwait. He sued President Barack Obama last year, contesting the legality of the war against the Islamic State because Congress didn’t explicitly authorized the military campaign against the terrorist group. The lower court dismissed the case in November 2016, on the grounds that Smith did not have standing and that only Congress and the executive branch, not courts, can determine policy questions like the legality of a war.
Smith appealed arguing he had standing because he has suffered an injury in fact by being forced to choose between participating in an illegal war and violating military law by refusing to participate.
Who: Smith is represented by Bruce Ackerman of Yale Law School and David Remes of Appeal for Justice. H. Thomas Byron and Catherine Dorsey represent the government.
When: Oct. 27