Yesterday (6/25), the U.S. Supreme Court issued three new opinions and granted eleven petitions (two cases were consolidated).
American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock
The Court summarily reversed the decision of the Montana Supreme Court. In a per curiam opinion, the Court held that its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 50 (2010) applied to a Montana law that bans corporations in the state from spending corporate cash to support or oppose a candidate or political party. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan.
Miller v. Alabama
In an opinion written by Justice Kagan, the Court held that “the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” The Court’s opinion was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Justice Breyer filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Sotomayor joined. Chief Justice Roberts filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion which was joined by Justice Scalia. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Scalia.
Arizona v. United States
The Court reviewed four provisions of the relevant Arizona statute. In an opinion written by Justice Kennedy, the Court held that three of the provisions are preempted by federal law. The state law crime of being in the country illegally, the ban on working in the state, and the warrantless arrest of individuals believed to have committed a deportable crime, were all held to be preempted by federal law. The Court held that the lower courts were wrong to prevent Section 2(B) of the law, which requires the police to check the immigration status of detained individuals before releasing them, to go into effect. It was not clear to the Court that his provision would be preempted by federal law. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor joined the Court’s decision. Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito filed opinions concurred in part and dissented in part. Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Henderson v. United States [646 F.3d 223 (5th Cir. 2011)]
The case involves the “plain error” rule and whether an appellate court, when reviewing a trial court decision for plain error, should evaluate the error based on the state of the law when the trial court made the error or when the appellate court reviews the decision. [UT Law School’s Supreme Court Clinic, including Professors Michael Sturley and Lynn Blais, represented the petitioner in this case].
Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center [640 F.3d 1063 (9th Cir. 2011)]
The issues before the Court include: (1) Whether a citizen may bypass judicial review of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting rule under 33 U.S.C. § 1369, and may instead challenge the validity of the rule in a citizen suit to enforce the Clean Water Act (CWA); and (2) whether the Ninth Circuit erred when it held that stormwater from logging roads is industrial stormwater under the rules of the CWA and the Environmental Protection Agency, even though EPA has determined that it is not industrial stormwater?
Georgia-Pacific West, Inc. v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center [640 F.3d 1063 (9th Cir. 2011)]
The issue involves whether the Ninth Circuit should have deferred to the Environmental Protection Agency’s longstanding position that channeled runoff from forest roads does not require a permit, and erred when it mandated that EPA regulate such runoff as industrial stormwater subject to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.
[Decker and Georgia-Pacific West were consolidated].
Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council [673 F.3d 880 (9th Cir. 2011)]
The Court will consider when water flows from one portion of a river that is navigable water of the United States, through a concrete channel or other engineered improvement in the river constructed for flood and stormwater control as part of a municipal separate storm sewer system, into a lower portion of the same river, whether there can be a “discharge” from an “outfall” under the Clean Water Act, notwithstanding this Court’s holding in South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, 541 U.S. 95 (2004), that transfer of water within a single body of water cannot constitute a “discharge” for purposes of the Act.
Vance v. Ball State University [646 F.3d 461 (7th Cir. 2011)]
The Court will review whether the “supervisor” liability rule established by Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998) and Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742 (1998) (1) applies to harassment by those whom the employer vests with authority to direct and oversee their victim’s daily work, or (2) is limited to those harassers who have the power to “hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline” their victim.
Comcast v. Behrend [655 F.3d 182 (3d Cir. 2011)]
The issue before the Court is whether a district court may certify a class action without resolving whether the plaintiff class has introduced admissible evidence, including expert testimony, to show that the case is susceptible to awarding damages on a class-wide basis.
Already, LLC v. Nike, Inc. [663 F.3d 89 (2d Cir. 2011)]
The issue before the Court is whether a federal district court is divested of Article III jurisdiction over a party’s challenge to the validity of a federally registered trademark if the registrant promises not to assert its mark against the party’s then-existing commercial activities.
Genesis HealthCare Corp. v. Symczyk [656 F.3d 189 (3d Cir. 2011)]
The Court will consider whether a case becomes moot, and thus beyond the judicial power of Article III, when the lone plaintiff receives an offer from the defendants to satisfy all of the plaintiff’s claims.
FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health System, Inc. [663 F.3d 1369 (11th Cir. 2011)]
The issues before the Court include: (1) Whether the Georgia legislature, by vesting a local government entity with general corporate powers to acquire and lease out hospitals and other property, has “clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed” a “state policy to displace competition” in the market for hospital services, thus rendering federal antitrust laws inapplicable under the “state action doctrine”; and (2) whether such a state policy, even if clearly articulated, would be sufficient to validate the anticompetitive conduct in this case, given that the local government entity — which acquired the only competitor of a private actor at the private actor’s behest — neither actively participated in negotiating the terms of the hospital sale nor has any practical means of overseeing the hospital’s operation.
Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center [642 F.3d 1145 (D.C. Cir. 2011)]
The issue before the Court is whether the 180-day statutory time limit for filing an appeal with the Provider Reimbursement Review Board from a final Medicare payment determination made by a fiscal intermediary, 42 U.S.C. § 1395oo(a)(3), is subject to equitable tolling.
U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen [663 F.3d 671 (3d Cir. 2011)]
The Court will consider whether the Third Circuit correctly held — in conflict with the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits — that Section 502(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) authorizes courts to use equitable principles to rewrite contractual language and refuse to order participants to reimburse their plan for benefits paid, even where the plan’s terms give it an absolute right to full reimbursement.
Information provided by SCOTUSBlog.
Kali Borkoski, Details on today’s grants, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 25, 2012, 12:47 PM),