March 30, 2016
CEI’s Center for Class Action Fairness has appealed the district court’s approval of the Subway Footlong settlement to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
The saga began in January 2013 when an Australian teenager’s tweet of a not-quite-footlong Subway Footlong sandwich went viral, spawning nine U.S. lawsuits that were eventually centralized in federal court in Milwaukee.
After two plus years of wrangling (most of that time just spent negotiating class counsel’s fee award), the plaintiffs and defendants sought to have the court sign off on their proposed agreement. Subway agreed to require franchisees to keep a measuring tool on their premises, require monthly inspectors to inspect five loaves of white and five loaves of wheat bread, and maintain certain other trivial best-baking practices. Although the parties wouldn’t exactly let on, it is a good bet that Subway...
March 24, 2016
Judges don’t like it when someone makes a claim that turns out not to be true in order to get a lawsuit dismissed, such as by claiming records don’t exist when they do. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) failed to disclose the existence of some records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request until after a federal judge had already ruled in the case. When the judge found out, he issued an Order to Show Cause yesterday asking OSTP to explain why the Court should not impose sanctions on it, or permit discovery against it.
CEI had sought drafts of OSTP’s letter denying...
March 18, 2016
On January 8, 2014, the White House posted a curious video claiming that global warming causes more severe winter cold. Called “The Polar Vortex Explained in 2 Minutes,” it featured the director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP), John Holdren, claiming that a “growing body of evidence” showed that the “extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues.”
This claim was questioned by many scientists and commentators on all sides of the global warming debate. (See, e.g., Jason Samenow, Scientists: Don’t make “extreme cold” centerpiece of global warming argument, ...
March 14, 2016
Class-action lawsuits are commonly settled for things that benefit the lawyers bringing them, not the class of allegedly victimized people they are supposedly suing on behalf of.
A classic example is Frank v. Poertner, pending before the Supreme Court. Ripped-off class members asking the Supreme Court to hear their challenge to a class action settlement that awarded class lawyers $5.7 million, while 99 percent of class members get nothing, and a third-party nonprofit got a bunch of donated batteries. As Roger Parloff of Fortune asks, “Should Plaintiffs Lawyers Get 94% of A Class Action Settlement?” The Supreme Court should answer with a loud “No.”
The class-action lawsuit was brought against Gillette, the maker of...
January 20, 2016
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit could soon deliver a pivotal ruling in the case of Competitive Enterprise Institute v. Office of Science and Technology Policy. Our lawsuit involves a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking work-related emails from the personal email account of Dr. John Holdren, who has directed the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) since early 2009. This case could set an important precedent affirming FOIA’s vitality in digital era, ensuring that agency employees who increasingly conduct official business using non-governmental accounts—or even private servers—cannot evade the scrutiny of...
October 23, 2015
Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against the government in CEI’s challenge to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) illegal body scanner policy. CEI, joined by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Rutherford Institute, filed a mandamus petition in July asking the court to compel the TSA to produce its final rule on body scanners within 90 days.
When the TSA began deploying body scanners as the primary screening method back in 2009, it failed to conduct a notice-and-comment rulemaking as required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). In 2010, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a lawsuit alleging, among other things, that the TSA was in violation of the APA. In July 2011, this same panel on the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of EPIC and ordered the TSA to “promptly” complete the required...
September 8, 2015
The Cato Institute and CEI recently filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, urging it to stop California Attorney General Kamala Harris from making intrusive demands for the donor lists of non-profit groups.
Federal law treats the donor lists contained in non-profits’ Form 990 Schedule B as confidential, and forbids the IRS to give them to state attorneys general. (See, e.g., 26 U.S.C. § 6104(c)(3).)
Moreover, California statutes do not require, or even specifically authorize, the state attorney general to collect such confidential donor information from non-profits. But Harris does it anyway, demanding that non-profits give her their Schedule B’s.
Harris’s demands were challenged by the...
July 16, 2015
Yesterday, July 15, 2015, CEI filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Our suit requests the court enforce its July 15, 2011, decision that found the TSA’s deployment of body scanners in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The 2011 court ordered the TSA to “promptly” open a rulemaking proceeding and produce a final rule. Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of the court order and we still do not have a final rule to evaluate and potentially challenge. In fact, given that TSA has been rolling out body scanners since 2007, they have been violating the APA for eight years.
Other than CEI, petitioners are the National Center for Transgender Equality, The...
June 25, 2015
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the Obama administration in King v. Burwell, upholding the legality of health insurance tax credits for people in the 36 states that haven’t set up insurance exchanges under Obamacare. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the Court, while Justice Antonin Scalia dissented, joined by Justices Alito and Thomas.
Unlike the major Obamacare case decided by the Supreme Court in 2012, NFIB v. Sebelius, today’s decision in King doesn’t concern the law’s constitutionality. Instead, the case challenged an IRS regulation interpreting the meaning of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—better known as Obamacare. The law says that many low- and middle-income Americans can get “...
June 17, 2015
In the days just before the March 4 Supreme Court hearing in King v. Burwell, I got a number of calls from total strangers who had read about the case and who wanted to be plaintiffs in it. I explained to them that it was too late to join the case then, but listened to their stories of cancelled insurance policies and jobs jeopardized by Obamacare. One call stood out in particular. It was from a woman in California who had moved to the U.S. years ago from the Ukrainian city of Donetsk. After explaining her health care predicament, she asked me: Do you understand how crazy this is? I left a totally dysfunctional country to come here, and now I find myself trapped in this insanity!
That’s an interesting contrast to the disaster stories that we’ve been hearing for months, about what will happen if the Supreme Court rules in our favor in King. At issue in the...