Seventh Circuit Review
Volume 5, Issue 2 (Spring 2010)
Introduction (contains Table of Contents, Masthead, About the Seventh Circuit Review, and Preface)
|Choice-of-Law Rules in Bankruptcy: An Opportunity for Congress to Resolve Conflicting Approaches|
|Viktoria A. D. Ziebarth|
|5 Seventh Circuit Rev. 309 (2010)||[Abstract] [Full Article] [Synopsis: 2 MB mp3]|
In In re Jafari, the Seventh Circuit had the opportunity to take a position on whether state or federal choice-of-law rules should be applied in bankruptcy cases. Instead, the court chose not to resolve the question because the outcome was the same under application of Wisconsin's choice-of-law rules and the federal common law choice-of-law rule used by the First and Ninth Circuits in bankruptcy and other federal question cases. The United States Supreme Court has never directly addressed whether state choice-of-law rules must be applied in bankruptcy. Furthermore, the Court has not extended its holding from Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric Manufacturing Co., that federal courts exercising diversity jurisdiction must apply the forum state's choice-of-law rules to federal question cases. Without any clear direction from the Supreme Court, the federal courts have been divided over the correct approach. This Note explores the consequences of application of state choice-of-law rules in bankruptcy cases and how they are at odds with the uniform nature of the federal bankruptcy system. Specifically, this Note proposes that creating federal choice-of-law rules for bankruptcy cases would ensure uniformity and fairness in the bankruptcy context and that Congress is the institution best suited to develop federal choice-of-law rules for bankruptcy cases.
|Gross'ed Out: The Seventh Circuit's Over-Extension of Gross v. FBL Financial Services into the ADA Context|
|Allison P. Sues|
|5 Seventh Circuit Rev. 356 (2010)||[Abstract] [Full Article] [Synopsis: 2 MB mp3]|
In its recent decision in Serwatka v. Rockwell Automation, Inc., the Seventh Circuit overruled its prior circuit precedent and found that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not create liability for mixed-motive claims. As a result of this decision, if an employer impermissibly considers an employee's disability in making a decision adverse to the employee, courts will not hold the employer liable provided that the plaintiff cannot also show that such consideration was the but-for cause of the challenged action. Prior to 2009, the Seventh Circuit had recognized mixed-motive causation under the ADA; it relied primarily on Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, which found that Title VII's phrase "because of" allowed for mixed-motive causation. Later, in light of the 1991 Amendments to Title VII's causation language, the Supreme Court in Gross v. FBL Financial Services held that mixed-motive claims were not viable under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Serwatka extended this ADEA case to the ADA and drastically changed the availability of protection to people with disabilities who allege discrimination at their workplace. This Note will examine to what extent a circuit court needs to adhere to Supreme Court precedent analyzing identical language from a different statute and will ultimately conclude that Serwatka improperly extended the Court's ADEA analysis to the ADA context. This Note will argue that, instead of relying on Gross, Serwatka should have relied on Price Waterhouse because its underlying rationale is applicable to the ADA and the 1991 Amendments did not undermine its continued viability as instructive precedent. Finally, this Note explores the impact that the 2008 ADA Amendments will have on the issue and ultimately concludes that the Amendments do not alter the strong arguments advocating for the recognition of mixed-motive claims under the ADA.
|How Many Environmental Plaintiffs Are Still Standing?|
|Andrew D. Dorn|
|5 Seventh Circuit Rev. 409 (2010)||[Abstract] [Full Article] [Synopsis: 3 MB mp3]|
Standing is easy to describe but difficult to apply. At a minimum, standing requires three elements: (1) injury-in-fact; (2) traceability to conduct of the defendant; and (3) that a favorable decision could provide redress for the injury. This Note outlines the development of the standing doctrine from Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife through Summers v. Earth Island Institute and examines how several courts have applied this standard to their cases. It also analyzes Pollack v. Department of Justice. It proposes an approach that demands more than pleadings but removes the court's license to pre-litigate the merits of the case under the guise of the standing doctrine. And finally, it argues that standing should be retired when it comes to what are now traditional environmental claims because the elements of standing are so intertwined with the merits of the case.
|Public Employee Free Speech After Garcetti: Has the Seventh Circuit Been Ignoring a Question of Fact?|
|Sarah R. Kaplan|
|5 Seventh Circuit Rev. 459 (2010)||[Abstract] [Full Article] [Synopsis: 2 MB mp3]|
Before the United States Supreme Court decided Garcetti v. Ceballos in 2006, courts decided the question whether a public employee's speech was protected by the First Amendment as a matter of law. Courts asked whether the speech addressed a matter of public concern. If it did, then the speech was protected if the employee's interest in exercising her First Amendment rights outweighed the employer's interest in maintaining an efficient workplace. Garcetti introduced a new threshold question: whether the public employee spoke pursuant to her official duties. This seems to introduce a factual question to the public employee free speech inquiry: what exactly were the employee's job duties? However, most of the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals, including the Seventh Circuit, have continued to treat the inquiry as purely legal. In several cases, the Seventh Circuit has decided as a matter of law that an employee spoke pursuant to his job duties and affirmed summary judgment against him, even where he argued that his duties did not include making the kind of speech at issue. Because this reasoning leads to unfair results, this Note argues that the Seventh Circuit should treat the question of what a public employee's job duties were as a question of fact.
|Let's Be Reasonable: Fourth Amendment Principles in the Digital Age|
|Scott D. Blake|
|5 Seventh Circuit Rev. 491 (2010)||[Abstract] [Full Article] [Synopsis: 2 MB mp3]|
The expansion of computers in American society has led to new developments in Fourth Amendment doctrine. Just like every other American, criminals use computers, which requires law enforcement to search and seize computers. Frequently, an executing officer inadvertently discovers computer files with illegal content that are outside the scope of the original warrant. Reasoning that traditional Fourth Amendment doctrine does not provide sufficient protection in a digital age, two federal circuits have crafted alternative approaches that deviate from it. However, the Seventh Circuit, in United States v. Mann, has continued to apply the traditional principles of Fourth Amendment doctrine by reasoning that the plain view doctrine, the particularity requirement, and a reasonableness standard should be allowed to evolve and expand into the world of digital evidence.
Immigration Law—Illegal Reentry Prosecutions
|Improving the Seventh Circuit's Approach to Illegal Reentry Prosecutions with a Constructive Discovery Standard and Fast-Track Sentencing|
|5 Seventh Circuit Rev. 532 (2010)||[Abstract] [Full Article] [Synopsis: 4 MB mp3]|
Where an alien has been removed, illegally reenters the United States, and is later found by immigration or federal law enforcement authorities, he has violated federal immigration law found in 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a). Violators face two rolls of the dice depending on where they are convicted. If they are convicted in the Seventh Circuit, they lose on both rolls. Under the Seventh Circuit's actual discovery standard, the government can sustain a conviction brought long after the statute of limitations has tolled because they have no duty to locate an alien using reasonable diligence. Additionally, because districts in the Seventh Circuit do not employ fast-track sentencing programs, the alien will likely be sentenced more harshly than violators in fast-track districts. Not all circuits treat § 1326 violators this harshly. The majority of circuits require the government to use reasonable diligence under the constructive discovery standard when pursuing § 1326 convictions. Further, in some federal districts, cooperative defendants charged under § 1326 are given an expedited disposition of their case and a reduced sentence due to a fast-track program. The Seventh Circuit's approach to § 1326 should be changed to align prosecutorial, defense, congressional, and judicial policy. This Note examines the various approaches taken to § 1326 prosecutions and advocates adoption of the constructive discovery standard and fast-track sentencing programs in the Seventh Circuit.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
|"Reasonable Measures": Giving "Due Deference" to School Boards' Decisions in Cases Involving the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act|
|5 Seventh Circuit Rev. 581 (2010)||[Abstract] [Full Article] [Synopsis: 2 MB mp3]|
Currently, the federal appeals courts use different tests when examining state compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a Spending Clause statute meant to give students with disabilities meaningful educational instruction. The IDEA requires states receiving federal funds for special education to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) to each eligible student with a disability. Though there are varying tests used by the appeals courts, they can be lumped into two main categories: a reasonableness test and a factor test. The Seventh Circuit in Board of Education v. Ross adopted a reasonableness test, which finds that a school district is LRE-compliant when it takes "reasonable measures" to provide a student with a disability a "satisfactory education" in a "conventional" school. In contrast, the Third Circuit in Oberti v. Board of Education adopted a factor test that, by application, requires courts to intrude into the province of school officials. This Note argues that the Seventh Circuit's test implements congressional intent better than the Third Circuit's test by examining the language of the IDEA, pertinent Supreme Court precedent, and empirical studies. In addition, it compares the outcome of a district court case applying the Third Circuit's test with the outcome that court would have reached if it applied the Seventh Circuit's test, to show that the Seventh Circuit's outcome is more appropriate.
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