Walton v Powell

Walton sued Powell alleging First Amendment violations when she was fired from her civil service position. The district court denied Powell’s qualified immunity motion. The panel affirmed. It first held it had authority to hear the appeal as Supreme Court precedent requires the acceptance of district court determinations of what a jury could accept at trial, but, leaves the issue of whether the accepted facts would support a plaintiff verdict is left to the appeals court to decide. It held the burden shifting test for Title VII cases does not apply on First Amendment retaliation cases because neither the Supreme Court nor the 10th Circuit has ever done so, most other circuits reject the approach in the first Amendment context, even in Title VII cases, the burden shifting approach is only used sometimes and only in cases relying on circumstantial evidence and an alternative substantial or motivating factor test has been suggested by the supreme court. Using alternative grounds analysis, the panel held denial of the immunity motion was proper as firing a civil service employee for failure to follow or endorse a political ideology crates a triable issue of retaliation, there is close temporal proximity between Powell’s statements about Walton and her appointment in light of press criticism of her appointment and this is sufficient for the case to go to a jury and the 10th Circuit had held protection form politically motivated terminations of civil service protected employees was established law before eth events at issue here.

Wasatch Equality v Alta Ski Lifts Company

Wasatch sued Alta alleging equal protection violations from Alta’s ban on snowboards at tis ski area on federal land. The district court dismissed for lack of state action. The Panela affirmed holding the lease of the ski area to Alta is not state action as it generates 0.1% of United States Forest Service income in a year, acquiescence by the service of Alta’s policy is not state action and there is no evidence Service required the snowboard ban and running a ski area is not a core public function.

COPE v Kansas State Board of education

COPE challenged the adoption of science performance expectations arguing they mandated a nonreligious explanation of evolution and life and thus violated the First Amendment. The district court dismissed for lack of standing. The panel affirmed. It held there was no standing because the expectations do not expressly any religion and are not religious symbols and there is no impending harm as school districts can add to the expectations and are called upon to go beyond the expectations and also called upon to teach the limits of science and thus any alleged harm is speculative.