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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. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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