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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. Bob Leonard killed two people named Jennifer and Dion Longworth. There were no Smiths involved.

  2. Being on this journey from the beginning has convinced me the justice system really doesn't care about the welfare of the child. The trial court judge knew the child belonged with the mother. The father having total disregard for the rules of the court. Not only did this cost the mother and child valuable time together but thousands in legal fees. When the child was with the father the mother paid her child support. When the child was finally with the right parent somehow the father got away without having to pay one penny of child support. He had to be in control. Since he withheld all information regarding the child's welfare he put her in harms way. Mother took the child to the doctor when she got sick and was totally embarrassed she knew nothing regarding the medical information especially the allergies, The mother texted the father (from the doctors office) and he replied call his attorney. To me this doesn't seem like a concerned father. Seeing the child upset when she had to go back to the father. What upset me the most was finding out the child sleeps with him. Sometimes in the nude. Maybe I don't understand all the rules of the law but I thought this was also morally wrong. A concerned parent would allow the child to finish the school year. Say goodbye to her friends. It saddens me to know the child will not have contact with the sisters, aunts, uncles and the 87 year old grandfather. He didn't allow it before. Only the mother is allowed to talk to the child. I don't think now will be any different. I hope the decision the courts made would've been the same one if this was a member of their family. Someday this child will end up in therapy if allowed to remain with the father.

  3. Ok attorney Straw ... if that be a good idea ... And I am not saying it is ... but if it were ... would that be ripe prior to her suffering an embarrassing remand from the Seventh? Seems more than a tad premature here soldier. One putting on the armor should not boast liked one taking it off.

  4. The judge thinks that she is so cute to deny jurisdiction, but without jurisdiction, she loses her immunity. She did not give me any due process hearing or any discovery, like the Middlesex case provided for that lawyer. Because she has refused to protect me and she has no immunity because she rejected jurisdiction, I am now suing her in her district.

  5. Sam Bradbury was never a resident of Lafayette he lived in rural Tippecanoe County, Thats an error.

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