NAAMJP v. Holder Appellate Order Analysis

This writing assignment is from my Intro to Judicial Clerkships class. The prompt was to summarize the facts and legal conclusions of the trial order in 2 pages as if I were a law clerk for a law firm.

The case was 14-cv-02110-RJC, NAAMJP v Eric Holder. The Appellate Order can be found here


           The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has issued a ruling in 14-cv-02110-RJC, NAAMJP v. Lynch. All three judges on the panel in a de novo review affirmed the district court’s ruling granting the motion to dismiss. Writing for the majority, Judge Gibney wrote that they affirmed the district court because Local Rule 701 neither violates the Constitution nor Federal Law.

           Regarding the First Amendment issues, the Fourth Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling because Local Rule 701 “is simply a regulation of a profession. The Rule does not compel attorneys to speak or regulate speech based on its content.” The Court held that this was not a case “when the government tries to control public discourse through the regulation of a profession.” Rather, all Local Rule 701 does is “sets conditions for professionals providing ‘personalized advice in a private setting to a paying client.’” As such, the Fourth Circuit ruled that “Rule 701 is a generally applicable licensing provision.” As such, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that there was no First Amendment violation.

           Regarding the Fifth Amendment Equal Protection Clause issue, the Fourth Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling because under the “rational basis review, Rule 701 clearly passes constitutional muster.” The Appellate Court found that NAAMJP did not meet the burden of negating the plausible rationales provided by the district court. The cases NAAMJP cited in their brief, Judge Gibney wrote, were not relevant to the case at bar because the cited cases dealt with residency requirements which Local Rule 701 did not involve. As such, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that there was no Equal Protection Clause violation.

           Regarding the Rules Enabling Act issue, the Fourth Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling because Local Rule 701 “does not violate any Acts of Congress or any federal ‘rules of practice and procedure’ adopted by the Supreme Court pursuant to § 2072.” The Fourth Circuit rejected NAAMJP’s interpretation of § 2071 and § 2072 and instead held that § 2072(b) refers to the rule that § 2072(a) permits the Supreme Court to prescribe. In other words, “the Rules Enabling Act tells district courts that they cannot use local rules to contradict the Supreme Court’s rules of procedure.” As such, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that there was no Rules Enabling Act violation.

Regarding the Supremacy Clause issue, the Fourth Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling because there was no state law at issue. Local Rule 701 is a federal rule adopted in accordance with federal statutes. The Court held that while Local Rule 701 does adopt Maryland’s state licensing requirements, “nothing prohibits federal law from incorporating state standards . . . this does not transform Rule 701 into a state law.” Judge Gibney wrote that NAAMJP’s Supremacy Clause claim is “bold—if not borderline frivolous.” As such, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that there was no Supremacy Clause violation.

As a result of their de novo review, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the district court in granting the motion to dismiss.

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