Short Circuit 144 | PACER Charges and Publicly Charged Universal Injunctions

What brings all lawyers together? Hatred of PACER. Some nonprofits challenged the fees the federal courts charge for accessing court filings on the electronic records system. And they won. Kind of. But this doesn’t mean you get to stop paying to see legal documents. This week Diana Simpson explains the history of accessing court documents via modem, where those fees go, and how the Federal Circuit interpreted some obscure statutory language. Also, Congress has never defined the term, but for well over a century Congress has barred immigrants who are likely to become a “public charge.” Can the Department of Homeland Security adopt a definition of the term that will render way more people inadmissible? The Fourth Circuit said yes, and went on to opine on the continuing controversy over “nationwide injunctions.” Adam Shelton discusses that case, as well as a couple other recent cases from the Second Circuit—on the exact same issue—and a different injunction case from Puerto Rico.

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Recent Episodes

June 10, 2022

Short Circuit 223 | Clerks and Harassment

We discuss a couple legal immunities, one listeners will be familiar with and one that’s pretty unknown. The second is being addressed by our special guest, Aliza Shatzman. She is the co-founder of The Legal Accountability Project, a new nonprofit whose mission is to ensure that as many law clerks as possible have positive clerkship experiences while extending support and resources to those who do not. Aliza had a harrowing experience as a law clerk and found that the laws that apply to other government employees often don’t extend to those in the judicial branch. She also presents a recent case from the Fourth Circuit about a judicial branch employee who brought a number of claims to try and get around sovereign immunity—and actually succeeded on a few of them. Then Kirby Thomas West of IJ discusses a Fifth Circuit case with terrible facts, but a good outcome on the qualified immunity front.

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June 06, 2022

Short Circuit 222 | Live at IJ’s Law Student Conference

Recording in front of a live audience at the 2022 Institute for Justice’s Law Student Conference, we look at some of the best, and some of the worst, from the Fourth Circuit. First, Justin Pearson explains why a restriction on “political” advertising on the side of buses was unconstitutional even though it recognized the side of a bus is not a “public forum.” Then, Michael Bindas gives us his best sommelier (or is it wino?) impersonation and discusses a tipsy opinion allowing North Carolina to prevent out-of-state retailers from shipping wine to the state’s consumers. It’s pretty much not what the Supreme Court has said about the dormant Commerce Clause and alcohol.

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