1. Butts v. Barnhart: The panel granted in part and denied in part a motion for panel rehearing. (The panel’s original decision is available here; AL&P's coverage is here). The original panel remanded to the Social Security Administration to consider Butts’ disability claim, and imposed a 60-day time limit. On rehearing, the panel extended the time limit to 120 days, primarily because it would have been impracticable otherwise. If the SSA does not reach a decision within 120 days, the court ordered it to pay Butts his benefits. Judge Jacobs has a fantastic dissent where he argues that the court is without power to award SSA benefits as a sanction for delay in the absence of a finding that Butts is actually disabled; that’s what contempt is for.
2. Dhoumo v. BIA: In this immigration appeal, the CA2 actually granted the petition for review and reversed the BIA -- but don’t worry, no one gets to stay here just yet.
Petitioner was the child of Tibetan refugees who had been living in India since 1960, when they fled Tibet. In 1998 (i.e., forty years later), petitioner emigrated to America and sought asylum, claiming he would be persecuted if he returned to Tibet. The government argued that he was an Indian national, but he denied it and claimed he was a Chinese national, even though he had never been to China. Just to be safe, though, petitioner also asked that his asylum be adjudicated with reference to India. The IJ denied the claim, finding petitioner not to be credible; she did not pass on the question of his nationality. That, said the CA2, was error -- nationality is a threshold question. On remand, the BIA must determine if petitioner is an Indian or Chinese national, and if he is a Chinese national, whether the "firm resettlement" exception applies with respect to India.