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7th Circuit: taxpayer suit for restitution is moot

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's dismissal of a taxpayer suit against the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education as moot, finding the taxpayers didn't have standing to sue for violations of the Establishment Clause based on a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reheard the case of Joan Laskowski and Daniel M. Cook v. Margaret Spellings, in her official capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of Education and University of Notre Dame, No. 05-2749.

The Supreme Court had remanded the case to the 7th Circuit for further consideration in light of Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation Inc., 551 U.S. 127 S. Ct. 2553 (2007).

Joan Laskowski and Daniel Cook, as taxpayers, sued the secretary of education to enjoin the payment of a congressional one-time grant to the University of Notre Dame designated for a teacher-training program aimed at putting teachers in underserved Catholic schools in poor neighborhoods. Laskowski and Cook failed to seek a preliminary injunction; while the suit was pending, the grant expired and the District Court dismissed the suit as moot.

The 7th Circuit originally reversed the dismissal, finding the suit wasn't moot because restitution relief could be obtained against the University of Notre Dame in the form of an order to repay the grant to the U.S. Treasury.

The Supreme Court ruled in Hein that taxpayers continue to have standing to sue for alleged Establishment Clause violations brought by specific congressional appropriations, but the standing only extends to suits to enjoin the violation. The exception noted in Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968), doesn't extend to suits for retrospective monetary relief against private parties as was the remedy first envisioned by the 7th Circuit against University of Notre Dame, wrote Judge Diane Sykes.

"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," the judge wrote. "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."

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  1. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

  2. Unlike the federal judge who refused to protect me, the Virginia State Bar gave me a hearing. After the hearing, the Virginia State Bar refused to discipline me. VSB said that attacking me with the court ADA coordinator had, " all the grace and charm of a drive-by shooting." One does wonder why the VSB was able to have a hearing and come to that conclusion, but the federal judge in Indiana slammed the door of the courthouse in my face.

  3. I agree. My husband has almost the exact same situation. Age states and all.

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  5. Andrew, if what you report is true, then it certainly is newsworthy. If what you report is false, then it certainly is newsworthy. Any journalists reading along??? And that same Coordinator blew me up real good as well, even destroying evidence to get the ordered wetwork done. There is a story here, if any have the moxie to go for it. Search ADA here for just some of my experiences with the court's junk yard dog. https://www.scribd.com/document/299040062/Brown-ind-Bar-memo-Pet-cert Yep, drive by shootings. The lawyers of the Old Dominion got that right. Career executions lacking any real semblance of due process. It is the ISC way ... under the bad shepard's leadership ... and a compliant, silent, boot-licking fifth estate.

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