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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues two today

In U.S. v. Jackson (ND Ind., CJ Miller), a 38-page opinion, Judges Rovner writes:

Defendants-appellants Essie Jackson and Joe Jackson were convicted of mail fraud and conspiring to commit mail fraud along with their codefendant, Angela Blackwell Jackson, who is not a party to this appeal. They appeal their convictions on a variety of grounds. Finding no merit in any of their challenges, we affirm.
Inside Higher Ed termed this next case "A complicated legal dispute involving separation of church and state, management of federal grants, and the right to sue" when it was pending before the SCOTUS in 2007 -- see 7/2/07 ILB entry here.

In Laskowski v. Spellings and Notre Dame (SD Ind., Judge McKinney), a 12-page opinion, Judge stykes writes:

This case returns to us following the Supreme Court’s order granting certiorari, vacating our prior judgment, and remanding for further consideration in light of Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc., 551 U.S. ___, 127 S. Ct. 2553 (2007). Univ. of Notre Dame v. Laskowski, 127 S. Ct. 3051 (2007). The issue is whether the plaintiff-taxpayers have standing under Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968), to maintain an Establishment Clause challenge to a congressional grant after the funds have been fully paid and the grant has expired. * * *

The import of the plurality opinion is that the reach of Flast is now strictly confined to the result in Flast. And the result in Flast was that the taxpayers had standing to seek an injunction to halt a specific congressional appropriation alleged to violate the Establishment Clause.

Accordingly, we read Hein to mean that taxpayers continue to have standing to sue for injunctive relief against specific congressional appropriations alleged to violate the Establishment Clause, but that is all. Permitting a taxpayer to proceed against a private grant recipient for restitution to the Treasury as a remedy in an otherwise moot Establishment Clause case would extend the Flast exception beyond the limits of the result in Flast. After Hein, such an extension is unwarranted. * * *

The only form of relief the taxpayers here had standing to seek—an injunction against the Secretary’s disbursement of the allegedly unconstitutional grant—is no longer available because the grant was not a continuing one and it expired while the suit was pending in the district court. That claim is moot, and there is no residual standing to pursue a claim for restitutionary relief against Notre Dame, a private party, for reimbursement of the Treasury. The district court properly dismissed this case as moot. AFFIRMED.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 14, 2008 12:18 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions