Sixth Circuit Review

Volume 82 (2021)


Personal Jurisdiction Takes Center Stage in Covington Catholic Students’ Suit

Ryland Anatole Doerr.

A viral controversy at the heart of America’s culture war led to the resolution of a very different controversy concerning personal jurisdiction in the Sixth Circuit. The confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial between Covington Catholic High School students participating in the March for Life rally and various other activists including Native American Nathan Phillips captivated the media in early 2019. Read Doerr’s full article here.

Compassionate Release in the Time of COVID

Taylor G. MacDonald.

Compassionate releases from jail and prison sentences have been on the rise as COVID-19 cases devastate the incarcerated population. In early February, the Sixth Circuit ruled that the restrictions on compassionate releases are much lighter than district courts assumed. Read MacDonald’s full article here.

Reasonable Suspicion that the Holding in United States v. Lewis was Incorrect

Nicholas Sgroi.

In late January 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decided United States v. Lewis in which they affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion to suppress evidence. The court found that the stop and search was proper under Fourth Amendment case law, and more specifically, justified as a Terry stop. But given the facts of the case, the reasonable suspicion requirement needed for such stops is unmet, as the dissent correctly points out. Read Sgroi’s full article here.

Deliberate Indifference and Title IX

Bailey Sanders.

Over twenty years have passed since the Supreme Court’s decision in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education set out the deliberate indifference standard for Title IX claims against a federally funded educational institution for student-student sexual harassment. Yet, at least in the Sixth Circuit, there is still a large difference in opinion about how to interpret and apply the third prong of this standard: whether the funding recipient was deliberately indifferent to the harassment. Read Sanders’ full article here.

Booze: A Constitutional Anomaly?

Nicholas Sgroi.

Alcohol has had quite an interesting history when looked at within the lens of the United States Constitution. As you scroll through the amendments, the only consumable substance mentioned is alcohol…two different times. The Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” This lasted for thirteen years until Section 1 of the Twenty-first Amendment explicitly repealed the Eighteenth. Read Sgroi’s full article here.

Meyers v. Cincinnati Board of Education: Reckless Educators Cannot Claim Government Immunity in Child’s Suicide

Taylor G. MacDonald.

A number of alarming statistics have emerged in recent years concerning youth suicides. For children and young adults ages 10–24, there was a 48% increase in deaths by suicide between 2007 and 2018––and that’s just in Ohio, which falls below the national average. For Black youth, self-reported suicide attempted have increased 73% over the last 25 years, and the suicide death rate among Black youth is increasing faster than that of any other racial or ethnic group. The crisis has been recognized as so dire that the Congressional Black Caucus created an Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health. Read MacDonald’s full article here.

The Sixth Circuit Adds a Piece to the Puzzle of Pre-Dispute Employment Agreements

Ryland Anatole Doerr.

If your employment handbook or contract seeks to reduce the statute of limitations for claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), that clause will not be enforced in the Sixth Circuit. After holding that the statute of limitations for claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may not be waived in a 2019 case, the Sixth Circuit extended their restriction “with equal force” to timeliness waivers under the ADA and ADEA. Read Doerr’s full article here.

Blaze It or Ban It: The Battle Over Marijuana

Bailey Sanders.

Upon first glance, Lee Blomquist’s drug offense convictions and denial on appeal appears to be a run-of-the-mill consent exception to the Fourth Amendment’s search warrant requirement. A closer look, however, reveals three key issues: Did Blomquist consent to the search of his marijuana operation? Why did the federal government, and not the state government, charge him? Was the entire point of Michigan’s social equity program frustrated by the federal government’s actions? Blomquist’s deceptively simple consent exception case demonstrates the tension between the federal government’s resistance to legalizing medical marijuana and states’ efforts, including social equity programs, to encourage medical marijuana businesses. Read Sanders’ full article here.

A SMART Approach to First Amendment Line Drawing? Free Speech Restrictions in Nonpublic Forums

Taylor G. MacDonald.

Despite the deceptively absolutist language of the First Amendment, the Court has struggled with inevitable line-drawing problems. The Free Speech Clause primarily restricts the government from regulating speech in public places––traditionally spaces open to public debate––but grants it more leeway in nonpublic forums. In American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Suburban Mobility Authority (hereinafter “SMART 2020”), the Sixth Circuit ruled that Michigan’s Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) violated the First Amendment by adhering to guidelines restricting buses from allowing ads that were “political” or promoted “scorn or ridicule.” SMART 2020 underlines the disjointedness of First Amendment jurisprudence and compels us to develop a more unified theory of the First Amendment. Read MacDonald’s full article here.

Volume 81 (2020)


COVID-19 COVERAGE

Closing the Polls: Mays v. LaRose

Andria Dorsten Ebert.

This student article reviews coronavirus pandemic’s impact on voting. Specifically, this article reviews the public health order in Ohio that closed the voting polls for the Ohio primary on March 17, 2020. The articles reviews lawsuits that have been filed in response to the order. Read Dorsten Ebert’s full COVID-19 coverage article here.

STUDENT COMMENTARY

Bard v. Brown County, Ohio: A Look at Qualified Immunity in the Sixth Circuit

Ryland Anatole Doerr.

The Sixth Circuit addressed the timely issue of qualified immunity in the disturbing case of Bard v. Brown County, 970 F.3d 738 (6th Cir. 2020). Ashley Bard brought a civil suit against Brown County and a handful of individual officers after the hanging death of her brother, Zachary Goldson, in Brown County Jail. The alarming sequence of events in the final thirty-seven minutes of Mr. Goldson’s life lead to two very different analyses of qualified immunity at the district court and the Sixth Circuit. Ultimately, these approaches reflect very different standards of accountability for law-enforcement and this disparity frustrates a consistent and fair application of the law. Read Doerr’s full commentary here.

Rationing Treatment in Prisons Implies Some Will Be Without: Prisons Should Not Be Able to Escape Constitutional Violations by Blaming Costs

Nicholas Sgroi.

The Sixth Circuit in Atkins v. Parker wrestled with the question of whether or not to agree with a lower court’s judgement holding that Tennessee’s scheme for rationing hepatitis C drugs to prisoners was constitutional under the Eighth Amendment. Read Sgroi’s full commentary here.

Judicial Transparency: Where Does the Sixth Circuit Rank?

Meagan Dimond.

This Student Commentary reviews the transparency and accountability of the Sixth Circuit. The commentary explores a recent study that reviews the transparency of federal circuit courts and advocates for improvements. The commentary urges that the Sixth Circuit consider some of the report’s suggestions in order to improve the perception of the judicial system and its effectiveness. Read Dimond’s full commentary here.

Berger v. National Board of Medical Examiners: Granting Accommodations in High-Stakes Testing Situations

Meagan Dimond.

This Student Commentary reviews Berger v. Nat’l Bd. of Med. Exam’rs, a case currently pending before the Sixth Circuit involving the National Board of Medical Examiners’ decision to deny testing accommodations for students applying to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination. This commentary explores the extent to which the American with Disabilities Act protects those with disabilities in high-stakes testing situations. Read Dimond’s full commentary here.

CASE ANALYSIS

United States v. Doggart: Does a House of Worship Affect Interstate Commerce?

Andria Dorsten Ebert.

This Case Analysis reviews the Sixth Circuit case United States v. Doggart. Specifically, this Case Analysis reviews the Sixth Circuit’s approach to whether a house of worship affects interstate commerce. Read Dorsten Ebert’s full commentary here.

Disability Diagnosis and Abortion: An Undue Burden? The State of Ohio Requests and En Banc Hearing

Meagan Dimond.

This Case Analysis examines a petition for en banc review in a case regarding an Ohio law that prohibits medical providers from performing abortions if they know that the patient is seeking an abortion because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis. Specifically, this Case Analysis explores the law at issue and highlights the potential of this case to affect the direction of abortion jurisprudence moving forward. Read Dimond’s full commentary here.

Johnson v. Ohio Department of Public Safety: Last Chance Agreements May Make Claims of Racial Discrimination More Difficult to Prove

Andria Dorsten Ebert.

This Case Analysis reviews the Sixth Circuit’s recent decision in Johnson v. Ohio Department of Public Safety. Specifically, this Case Analysis addresses the decision’s impact on plaintiffs’ burden in employment discrimination cases if they have signed a Last Chance Agreement with their employer. Read Dorsten Ebert’s full commentary here.

Volume 80 (2019)


STUDENT COMMENTARY

Corpus Linguistics: Just Another Tool in the Sixth Circuit Toolbox?

Andria Dorsten Ebert.

This Student Commentary reviews corpus linguistics, an approach to studying language that uses electronic collections of linguistic date known as corpora, in the Sixth Circuit. The commentary reviews corpus linguistics as an approach to textual analysis and how this analysis has reached the Sixth Circuit in two recent cases. Read Dorsten Ebert’s full commentary here.

 

To Be Decided: Because of Sex or Not?

Meagan Dimond.

This Student Commentary reviews the Sixth Circuit’s holding in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., a case currently under review as part of a triad of cases before the Supreme Court. This commentary explores the underlying arguments presented in the case and the potential implications of the Supreme Court’s decision. Read Dimond’s full commentary here.

 

Ermold v. Davis and Judicial Shortcuts: Avoiding Tiers-of-Scrutiny Analysis in Same-Sex Marriage Cases

Andria Dorsten Ebert.

This Student Commentary reviews the Sixth Circuit’s opinions in three cases centered around Kim Davis and her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling in 2015. This commentary uses these cases to address the issue of what level of scrutiny, if any, should apply in same-sex marriage discrimination cases. Read Dorsten Ebert’s full commentary here.

 

Are Online Spaces “Places of Public Accommodation” Under the ADA? It Is Still Unclear in the Sixth Circuit

Meagan Dimond.

This Student Commentary reviews the American with Disabilities Act and whether online spaces fall within the ADA’s provisions on public accommodations. This commentary explores this issue in relation to the Sixth Circuit’s August decision, Brintley v. Aeroquip Credit Union, where the Court determined the plaintiff lacked Article III standing to bring her ADA case. Read Dimond’s full commentary here.