appeals court

U.S. Court Rules Ferguson Man’s Lawsuit for Wrongful Arrest and Police Assault Can Proceed

R. Gino Santa Maria /

Police yellow tape after protests in Ferguson, Mo., on November 25, 2014. Photo via R. Gino Santa Maria /

The case of Missouri man Henry Davis against the Ferguson Police Department was reinstated by a federal appeals court on July 28.

Davis filed a lawsuit against the department in 2010, arguing he was wrongly mistaken for a criminal and physically assaulted by three white Ferguson police officers. With the lawsuit Davis included a photo that shows him bleeding from his head. This injury had resulted in Davis being charged with destruction of property for bleeding on the officers’ uniforms.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nannette Baker halted his case in 2014 after saying his injuries weren’t severe enough to merit prosecution.

But on July 28 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled that Baker should not have dismissed Davis’ claims.

Appeals Court Ruling Clears Way for Gay Marriage in the Heart of Bible Belt

David Boies, left, and Ted Olson, of the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Creative Commons image by Steve Rhodes.

A federal appeals court panel in Virginia became the second one this summer to strike down a state ban against same-sex marriage Monday, making it more likely that the Supreme Court will settle the issue as early as next year.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond ruled 2-1 that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry that is paramount to state marriage laws. The ruling affirmed a district judge’s decision rendered in February.

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” said Judge Henry Floyd, originally appointed a district judge by George W. Bush and elevated to the circuit court by President Obama. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws.”

The circuit court has jurisdiction over Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The panel’s decision will not take effect until at least Aug. 18 while circuit clerks defending the state’s ban decide whether to appeal to the full appellate court or the Supreme Court.

Like the first appeals court panel to rule on the issue this year in Utah and Oklahoma, the three-judge panel was deeply divided.

Court: Law Designating ‘Israel’ as Birthplace Unconstitutional

Photo courtesy RNS/

United States passport. Photo courtesy RNS/

A federal appeals court has ruled unconstitutional a 2002 law that allows Americans born in Jerusalem to designate Israel as their birth country on their passports.

The lawsuit, brought by an American couple whose American son was born in Israel in 2002, challenged the government to uphold the law. Instead the court found it unconstitutional.

The State Department has not permitted Americans born in the city to list “Israel” as their birthplace on their passports, despite the law.

Court Says Catholic Businessman Can Fight Contraception Mandate

Junial Enterprises / Shutterstock

Photo: Junial Enterprises / Shutterstock

ST. LOUIS — A federal appeals court on Wednesday temporarily blocked the enforcement of the Obama administration's contraception mandate while a Catholic business owner appeals a lower court's ruling that tossed out his suit.

Opponents of the law said that it was the first time that an appeals court had weighed in on the issue, which has spawned multiple suits across the country, and called it a “significant victory.”

“The order sends a message that the religious beliefs of employers must be respected by the government,” said Francis Manion, senior counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, one of the lawyers representing Frank O'Brien.

In a two-sentence order issued Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to grant O'Brien's company a delay while the appeal is heard.