SCOTUS Watch – Thursday, June 18th – UPDATED

June is SCOTUS Decision month, when all eyes turn to the Supreme Court for rulings on the cases argued this session (before the court adjourns on June 30th for the summer). The calendar calls for orders and opinions to be released every Monday – 9:30am for orders and 10:00am for opinions. However, history has shown that additional “opinion days” are often added as the month unfolds and this year is no different as we have our first Thursday opinion day.

As always, the Moose News Network will cover the SCOTUS events with the help of SCOTUSblog and Twitter.

 
All eyes turn to the court

UPDATE: Six decisions, reporting from SCOTUSblog
McFadden v. U.S. – “In a unanimous judgment (the Chief Justice concurs in part and concurs in the judgment), the Court holds that when an analogue is involved, the statute requires the government to establish that the defendant knew he was dealing with substance regulated under either the Analogue Act or the main federal Controlled Substances Act.”

Ohio v. Clark – “The Court is unanimous in its judgment that the child’s statements to his teachers (the introduction in court of a young child’s statements to his preschool teachers about child abuse at home, when the child was unfit to testify) did not violate the Confrontation Clause (the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to confront the witnesses against him.).”

Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans – “The majority holds that the specialty license-plate designs offered by Texas constitute government speech, and thus Texas was entitled to refuse the design proposed by the Confederate heritage group that featured a Confederate battle flag.”

Davis v. Ayala – “The Court rules five to four to reverse the Ninth Circuit and hold that a trial judge’s decision to exclude a criminal defendant’s attorney from part of a Batson v. Kentucky hearing, in which the prosecutor explained the basis of some of his peremptory strikes of jurors, was harmless error.”

Brumfield v. Cain – “The Court rules five to four … that there was sufficient evidence that a death-row inmate in Louisiana could show he was impaired by an intellectual disability that he was entitled to have his claims under Atkins v. Virginia (which bars the execution of inmates with a mental disability) considered by a federal court.”

Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona. – “In a unanimous judgment (with five other Justices joining Thomas’s opinion), the Court holds that the town’s relevant sign restrictions are content-based regulations that fail strict scrutiny.” (Overturning 9th Circuit)

The Supreme Court will be in session this morning for opinions starting at 10:00am Eastern. SCOTUSblog will liveblog at this link starting at 9:30am Eastern.

Included in the list of cases heard in the current term but not yet decided are these:
– The marriage equality cases, listed under Obergefell v. Hodges (6th Circuit ruled in favor of the state bans)
– The Affordable Care Act state exchange case, King v Burwell (4th Circuit ruled in favor of Burwell)
– The “can citizens redistrict?” case, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (the district court upheld the redistricting, legislature appealed directly to Supreme Court)
– A death penalty case related to the drugs used, Glossip v Gross (Oklahoma wants to change its drug protocol, 10th Circuit ruled against the plaintiffs and for the state)
– Some other First Amendment cases:
– The Confederate license plate case, Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans (5th Circuit ruled against state, state appealed) DECIDED: State can ban racist plates
– A signage case Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona (9th Circuit ruled that the restrictions were reasonable, Reed appealed) DECIDED: Town cannot ban church signs
– An assault on the Fair Housing Act, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. (The 5th Circuit ruled against the state agency’s application of the Fair Housing Act)
– Three suits against the EPA over its regulation of utilities and “failure” to consider costs, listed as Michigan vs. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (The states are appealing a ruling upholding EPA rule making procedures)
– A 4th Amendment case involving hotel guest registries, The City of Los Angeles vs. Patel (city is appealing 9th Circuit ruling that the registries do not need to be turned over)

A full list of pending cases (with links) is below the fold.

Update from USA Today on the remaining cases: Supreme Court races the clock on gay marriage, Obamacare and more

WASHINGTON — The future of same-sex marriage and President Obama’s health care law hang in the balance as the Supreme Court’s 2014 term draws rapidly to a close this month. But those aren’t the only big issues on the justices’ plate.

Free speech and fair elections. Religious liberty and racial discrimination. Clean air and capital punishment. All await rulings over the next three weeks as the court completes action on 20 cases remaining this term. The next decisions will come Monday morning.

Analysis from Al Jazeera: Supreme Court to decide on 13 cases over next few weeks

June is the final month of the Supreme Court’s annual term before the summer recess begins. Over the next few weeks, the Court will make decisions on 13 major cases. Among the issues up for debate are same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act, and religious freedom.

From SCOTUSblog: October 2014 Term cases pending (oldest cases first)

Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, No. 13-502 [Arg: 1.12.2015 Trans./Aud.] Issue(s): Whether the Town of Gilbert’s mere assertion that its sign code lacks a discriminatory motive renders its facially content-based sign code content-neutral and justifies the code’s differential treatment of petitioners’ religious signs.

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, No. 13-1371 [Arg: 1.21.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act.

Ohio v. Clark, No. 13-1352 [Arg: 3.2.2015 Trans./Aud.] Issue(s): (1) Whether an individual’s obligation to report suspected child abuse makes that individual an agent of law enforcement for purposes of the Confrontation Clause; and (2) whether a child’s out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher’s concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause.

Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, No. 13-1314 [Arg: 3.2.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): (1) Whether the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution and 2 U. S. C. § 2a(c) permit Arizona’s use of a commission to adopt congressional districts; and (2) whether the Arizona Legislature has standing to bring this suit.

City of Los Angeles v. Patel, No. 13-1175 [Arg: 3.3.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): (1) Whether facial challenges to ordinances and statutes are permitted under the Fourth Amendment; and (2) whether a hotel has an expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment in a hotel guest registry where the guest-supplied information is mandated by law and an ordinance authorizes the police to inspect the registry, and if so, whether the ordinance is facially unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment unless it expressly provides for pre-compliance judicial review before the police can inspect the registry.

Davis v. Ayala, No. 13-1428 [Arg: 3.3.2015 Trans./Aud.] Issue(s): Whether a state court’s rejection of a claim of federal constitutional error on the ground that any error, if one occurred, was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt is an “adjudicat[ion] on the merits” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), so that a federal court may set aside the resulting final state conviction only if the defendant can satisfy the restrictive standards imposed by that provision; and (2) whether the court of appeals properly applied the standard articulated in Brecht v. Abrahamson.

King v. Burwell, No. 14-114 [Arg: 3.4.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether the Internal Revenue Service may permissibly promulgate regulations to extend tax-credit subsidies to coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government under Section 1321 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, No. 14-144 [Arg: 3.23.2015 Trans./Aud.] Issue(s): (1) Whether the messages and images that appear on state-issued specialty license plates qualify as government speech immune from any requirement of viewpoint neutrality; and (2) whether Texas engaged in “viewpoint discrimination” by rejecting the license-plate design proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, when Texas has not issued any license plate that portrays the confederacy or the confederate battle flag in a negative or critical light.

Bank of America, N.A. v. Toledo-Cardona, No. 14-163 [Arg: 3.24.2015]

Issue(s): Whether, under Section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code, which provides that “[t]o the extent that a lien secures a claim against the debtor that is not an allowed secured claim, such lien is void,” a Chapter 7 debtor may “strip off” a junior mortgage lien in its entirety when the outstanding debt owed to a senior lienholder exceeds the current value of the collateral.

Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-47 [Arg: 3.25.2015 Trans.]

Issue(s): Whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.

Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-46 [Arg: 3.25.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.

National Mining Association v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-49 [Arg: 3.25.2015 Trans.]

Issue(s): Whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.

Brumfield v. Cain, No. 13-1433 [Arg: 3.30.2015 Trans./Aud.] Issue(s): (1) Whether a state court that considers the evidence presented at a petitioner’s penalty phase proceeding as determinative of the petitioner’s claim of mental retardation under Atkins v. Virginia has based its decision on an unreasonable determination of facts under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2); and (2) whether a state court that denies funding to an indigent petitioner who has no other means of obtaining evidence of his mental retardation has denied petitioner his “opportunity to be heard,” contrary to Atkins and Ford v. Wainwright and his constitutional right to be provided with the “basic tools” for an adequate defense, contrary to Ake v. Oklahoma.

Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises, No. 13-720 [Arg: 3.31.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether this Court should overrule Brulotte v. Thys Co., which held that “a patentee’s use of a royalty agreement that projects beyond the expiration date of the patent is unlawful per se.” CVSG: 10/30/2014.

Johnson v. U.S., No. 13-7120 [Arg: 4.20.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): (1) Whether mere possession of a short-barreled shotgun should be treated as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act. (2) Whether the residual clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act is unconstitutionally vague.

McFadden v. U.S., No. 14-378 [Arg: 4.21.2015 Trans./Aud.] Issue(s): Whether, to convict a defendant of distribution of a controlled substance analogue – a substance with a chemical structure that is “substantially similar” to a schedule I or II drug and has a “substantially similar” effect on the user (or is believed or represented by the defendant to have such a similar effect) – the government must prove that the defendant knew that the substance constituted a controlled substance analogue, as held by the Second, Seventh, and Eighth Circuits, but rejected by the Fourth and Fifth Circuits.

Horne v. Department of Agriculture, No. 14-275 [Arg: 4.22.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): (1) Whether the government’s “categorical duty” under the Fifth Amendment to pay just compensation when it “physically takes possession of an interest in property,” Arkansas Game & Fish Comm’n v. United States, applies only to real property and not to personal property; (2) whether the government may avoid the categorical duty to pay just compensation for a physical taking of property by reserving to the property owner a contingent interest in a portion of the value of the property, set at the government’s discretion; and (3) whether a governmental mandate to relinquish specific, identifiable property as a “condition” on permission to engage in commerce effects a per se taking.

Kingsley v. Hendrickson, No. 14-6368 [Arg: 4.27.2015 Trans.]

Issue(s): Whether the requirements of a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force claim brought by a plaintiff who was a pretrial detainee at the time of the incident are satisfied by a showing that the state actor deliberately used force against the pretrial detainee and the use of force was objectively unreasonable.

DeBoer v. Snyder, No. 14-571 [Arg: 4.28.2015]

Issue(s): 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

Tanco v. Haslam, No. 14-562 [Arg: 4.28.2015]

Issue(s): 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14-556 [Arg: 4.28.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

Bourke v. Beshear, No. 14-574 [Arg: 4.28.2015]

Issue(s): 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

Glossip v. Gross, No. 14-7955 [Arg: 4.29.2015 Trans.]

Issue(s): (1) Whether it is constitutionally permissible for a state to carry out an execution using a three-drug protocol where (a) there is a well-established scientific consensus that the first drug has no pain relieving properties and cannot reliably produce deep, coma-like unconsciousness, and (b) it is undisputed that there is a substantial, constitutionally unacceptable risk of pain and suffering from the administration of the second and third drugs when a prisoner is conscious; (2) whether the plurality stay standard of Baze v. Rees applies when states are not using a protocol substantially similar to the one that this Court considered in Baze; and (3) whether a prisoner must establish the availability of an alternative drug formula even if the state’s lethal-injection protocol, as properly administered, will violate the Eighth Amendment.

  10 comments for “SCOTUS Watch – Thursday, June 18th – UPDATED

  1. JanF
    June 18, 2015 at 6:12 am

    #WaitingForLyle

    The number of boxes signifies how many cases have been decided. One box can be from 1 to 3 cases. Two boxes would probably mean at least 4. The court has a lot of decisions to get through before the end of the term.

    The court will also be in conference to discuss petitions to decide which cases to take for next term, which cases to deny, and which cases to relist (set aside to consider later).

    Back later …

  2. JanF
    June 18, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Four boxes:

    Four — count ’em, four — boxes of opinions today. Maybe a lot, or maybe fat ones.
    by lylden 8:55 AM

    • JanF
      June 18, 2015 at 10:05 am

      First case:

      Brumfield v. Cain. The vote is 5-4. Vacated and remanded.

      Sotomayor for the Court.
      by Amy Howe 9:01 AM

      Atkins forbids the execution of the intellectually disabled.

      The holding is that because Brumfield satisfied 2254’s requirements, he was entitled to have his Atkins claim considered in federal court on the merits.

      Alito has a dissenting opinion joined by the Chief.
      by Amy Howe 9:02 AM

      Brumfield v. Cain, No. 13-1433 [Arg: 3.30.2015 Trans./Aud.]

      Issue(s): (1) Whether a state court that considers the evidence presented at a petitioner’s penalty phase proceeding as determinative of the petitioner’s claim of mental retardation under Atkins v. Virginia has based its decision on an unreasonable determination of facts under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2); and (2) whether a state court that denies funding to an indigent petitioner who has no other means of obtaining evidence of his mental retardation has denied petitioner his “opportunity to be heard,” contrary to Atkins and Ford v. Wainwright and his constitutional right to be provided with the “basic tools” for an adequate defense, contrary to Ake v. Oklahoma.

    • JanF
      June 18, 2015 at 10:09 am

      Second case:

      Ohio v. Clark. First of two by Alito.

      The decision of the Court is to reverse the decision of the Supreme Court of Ohio.
      by Amy Howe 9:05 AM

      This is a case about the Confrontation Clause and the intro of testimony by a child. It is unanimous, although Scalia concurs in the judgment, joined by RBG. Thomas concurs in the judgment only.

      the holding is that the introduction of the child’s statements at trial did not violate the Confrontation Clause. The child is three years old.

      by Amy Howe 9:06 AM

      Ohio v. Clark, No. 13-1352 [Arg: 3.2.2015 Trans./Aud.]

      Issue(s): (1) Whether an individual’s obligation to report suspected child abuse makes that individual an agent of law enforcement for purposes of the Confrontation Clause; and (2) whether a child’s out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher’s concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause.

    • JanF
      June 18, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Third case:

      Davis v. Ayala. Decision of the Ninth Circuit is reversed. Vote is 5-4.
      by Amy Howe 9:10 AM

      Holding: Any federal constitutional error that may have occurred by excluding Ayala’s attorney from part of the Batson hearing was harmless.

      Justice Kennedy and Thomas each concur;Sotomayor dissents, joined by RBG, Breyer, and Kagan.
      by Amy Howe 9:11 AM

      Davis v. Ayala, No. 13-1428 [Arg: 3.3.2015 Trans./Aud.]

      Issue(s): Whether a state court’s rejection of a claim of federal constitutional error on the ground that any error, if one occurred, was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt is an “adjudicat[ion] on the merits” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), so that a federal court may set aside the resulting final state conviction only if the defendant can satisfy the restrictive standards imposed by that provision; and (2) whether the court of appeals properly applied the standard articulated in Brecht v. Abrahamson.

    • JanF
      June 18, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Fourth case:

      Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confed Veterans. The decision is by Justice Breyer.

      Fifth Circuit is reversed. The decision is a 5-4. Alito dissents, joined by Roberts, Scalia, and Kennedy. Majority picks up Thomas.
      by Amy Howe 9:15 AM

      Holding: Texas’s specialty license plate design constitutes government speech, and thus Texas was entitled to refuse to issue plates featuring the proposed Confederate Veterans’ design. Wow. That’s an interesting one. Holding goes on to say that when government speaks, it is not barred by the Free Speech Clause from determining the content of what it says.
      by Amy Howe 9:17 AM

      Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, No. 14-144 [Arg: 3.23.2015 Trans./Aud.]

      Issue(s): (1) Whether the messages and images that appear on state-issued specialty license plates qualify as government speech immune from any requirement of viewpoint neutrality; and (2) whether Texas engaged in “viewpoint discrimination” by rejecting the license-plate design proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, when Texas has not issued any license plate that portrays the confederacy or the confederate battle flag in a negative or critical light.

    • JanF
      June 18, 2015 at 10:24 am

      Fifth Case:

      McFadden v. US. By Thomas.

      Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded

      The vote is unanimous except that the Chief concurs in part and concurs in the judgment.
      by Amy Howe 9:19 AM

      Holding: When a controlled substance is an analogue, the statute requires the government to establish that the defendant knew he was dealing with a substance regulated under the Controlled Substances Act or Analogue Act.
      by Amy Howe 9:20 AM

      McFadden v. U.S., No. 14-378 [Arg: 4.21.2015 Trans./Aud.]

      Issue(s): Whether, to convict a defendant of distribution of a controlled substance analogue – a substance with a chemical structure that is “substantially similar” to a schedule I or II drug and has a “substantially similar” effect on the user (or is believed or represented by the defendant to have such a similar effect) – the government must prove that the defendant knew that the substance constituted a controlled substance analogue, as held by the Second, Seventh, and Eighth Circuits, but rejected by the Fourth and Fifth Circuits.

    • JanF
      June 18, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Final case:

      Reed v. Town of Gilbert. Thomas has the opinion for the Court.

      Decision of the Ninth Circuit is vacated and remanded.

      The end result is unanimous, although there are three concurring opinions: Alito, joined by Kennedy and Sotomayor; Breyer concurs in the judgment; KAgan concurs in the judgment, joined by Ginsburg and Breyer.
      by Amy Howe 9:23 AM

      The sign code’s provisions are content-based regulations of speech that do not survive strict scrutiny.

      I don’t type the words “Alito, joined by Kennedy and Sotomayor” very often.
      by Amy Howe 9:24 AM

      Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, No. 13-502 [Arg: 1.12.2015 Trans./Aud.]

      Issue(s): Whether the Town of Gilbert’s mere assertion that its sign code lacks a discriminatory motive renders its facially content-based sign code content-neutral and justifies the code’s differential treatment of petitioners’ religious signs.

  3. JanF
    June 18, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Back later to update the post and add commentary. Several of the cases we were watching were decided including the Texas license plate case. The state does have a right to restrict what is on a license plate … no Stars and Bars. And a municipality restricting signs for a church because it doesn’t like the church, not okay.

  4. JanF
    June 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Here is an excellent explanation from Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Orange about the SCOTUSblog procedure. He has been following the process for a very long time and has more information on the personalities and the protocol.

Comments are closed.