SCOTUS Watch – Monday, June 20th

June is SCOTUS Decision month, when all eyes turn to the Supreme Court for rulings on the cases argued this term (before the court adjourns on June 30th for the summer). The calendar normally 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.

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

 
All eyes turn to the court

The Supreme Court will be in session this morning for orders and opinions starting at 9:30am Eastern. SCOTUSblog will liveblog at this link starting at 9:15am Eastern.

There are 13 cases pending. These are the major and/or newsworthy cases heard in the current term but not yet decided:
United States v. Texas
Whether the Obama administration has the authority to issue its new deferred-action policy for undocumented immigrants, whether the states have standing to challenge the policy at all, whether DHS was required to notify the public about the proposed policy and provide opportunity for the public to weigh in on it, and whether the policy violates the Constitution’s “Take Care Clause,” which requires the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt
Whether, when applying the “undue burden” standard of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Fifth Circuit erred in concluding that this standard permits Texas to enforce, in nearly all circumstances, laws that would cause a significant reduction in the availability of abortion services while failing to advance the State’s interest in promoting health – or any other valid interest.
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
Does the use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions by the University of Texas violate the Equal Protection Clause?
Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro
Whether “service advisors” at car dealerships are exempt under 29 U.S.C. §213(b)(10)(A) from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime-pay requirements.
McDonnell v. U.S.
Whether “official action” under the controlling fraud statutes is limited to exercising actual governmental power, threatening to exercise such power, or pressuring others to exercise such power, and whether the jury must be so instructed; or, if not so limited, whether the Hobbs Act and honest-services fraud statute are unconstitutional.

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


USA Today analysis:

The court now faces three issues of huge social importance: Abortion, immigration and affirmative action.

Those are the highlights from among 19 cases left to be decided before the end of June. They include a second tier of closely watched cases, including one that could set a higher bar for public corruption, another that could help ease Puerto Rico’s crushing debt and a third that could affect drunk drivers who refuse breath or blood tests. […]

Affirmative action. A former white student’s challenge to the University of Texas’ use of racial preferences in admissions dates back the longest. The case was heard in early December, after being returned to the Supreme Court for a second go-round. In 2013, the justices demanded tougher judicial scrutiny of the school’s use of race, but an appeals court again sided with UT.

Unlike the other cases, this one will be decided by just seven justices, because Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself after working on it as U.S. solicitor general. Without the risk of a tie, advocates and opponents of affirmative action anticipate a ruling for or against the policy — perhaps with repercussions for other universities as well. The betting line tilts slightly against UT.

Abortion. Another case from Texas challenges a state law that imposed major restrictions on abortion clinics, ostensibly to protect women’s health. The law requires clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and forces doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals — rules that threaten to leave only nine fully functioning abortion clinics in a state with 5.4 million women of reproductive age.

Two lower federal courts have upheld the law, but abortion rights proponents say it places too great a burden on women seeking abortions, without a justifiable health benefit. They may have a winning hand if Justice Anthony Kennedy joins the court’s four liberals against one or both restrictions. A substantive ruling could represent the most significant abortion decision by the court since 1992.

Immigration. Case number three from Texas is President Obama’s effort to overturn lower court rulings that have blocked him from offering more than 4 million undocumented immigrants a chance to remain in the country without fear of deportation. It represents his last chance to help the parents of those brought to the country as children who have already won such a reprieve.

Texas led a group of 26 states against the plan, complaining that it would have to pay for driver’s licenses if the parents dodge deportation proceedings. Obama’s best chance appears to be the hope that a majority of justices will decide the cost of licenses does not give Texas sufficient standing in court. Otherwise, a 4-4 tie would uphold the verdict of the lower courts, and the program would be dead.

Recap on Thursday, 6/9/2016, Amy Howe 8:48 AM (edited to remove those decided since 6/9):

The cases from the October and November sittings have now all been decided.

In December, there are only two cases left: Dollar General (a Goldstein & Russell case) and Fisher v. UT Austin. Roberts is the only one who has not yet authored an opinion from December. So he almost certainly has one of those. Justice Antonin Scalia had also not yet issued an opinion from December before he passed away in February, and it seems unlikely that he was writing Fisher. That would seem to suggest that Roberts is writing Fisher and that either he or someone else (but not Breyer, who has already written twice for December) is writing Dollar General.

There are six cases left from the February sitting: Utah v. Strieff, Taylor v. United States, Halo/Stryker, Voisine, and Whole Woman’s Health. Too many cases left to try to predict which Justices might be writing.

From SCOTUSblog: October 2015 Term cases pending (oldest cases first)

Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, No. 13-1496 [Arg: 12.7.2015]

Issue(s): Whether Indian tribal courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate civil tort claims against nonmembers, including as a means of regulating the conduct of nonmembers who enter into consensual relationships with a tribe or its members

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, No. 14-981 [Arg: 12.9.2015, Transcript] Issue(s): Whether the Fifth Circuit’s re-endorsement of the University of Texas at Austin’s use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions decisions can be sustained under this Court’s decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.

Utah v. Strieff, No. 14-1373 [Arg: 2.22.2016]

Issue(s): Whether evidence seized incident to a lawful arrest on an outstanding warrant should be suppressed because the warrant was discovered during an investigatory stop later found to be unlawful.

Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, No. 14-1520 [Arg: 2.23.2016]

Issue(s): (1) Whether the Federal Circuit improperly abrogated the plain meaning of 35 U.S.C. § 284 by forbidding any award of enhanced damages unless there is a finding of willfulness under a rigid, two-part test, when this Court recently rejected an analogous framework imposed on 35 U.S.C. § 285, the statute providing for attorneys’ fee awards in exceptional cases.

Taylor v. U.S., No. 14-6166 [Arg: 2.23.2016]

Issue(s): Whether, in a federal criminal prosecution under the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951, the government is relieved of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the interstate commerce element by relying exclusively on evidence that the robbery or attempted robbery of a drug dealer is an inherent economic enterprise that satisfies, as a matter of law, the interstate commerce element of the offense.

Voisine v. U.S., No. 14-10154 [Arg: 2.29.2016]

Issue(s): (1) Whether a misdemeanor crime with the mens rea of recklessness qualifies as a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” as defined by 18 U.S.C. §§ 921(a)(33)(A) and 922(g)(9); and (2) whether 18 U.S.C. §§ 921(a)(33)(A) and 922(g)(9) are unconstitutional under the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments and the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, No. 15-274 [Arg: 3.2.2016, Transcript]

Issue(s): (1) Whether, when applying the “undue burden” standard of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a court errs by refusing to consider whether and to what extent laws that restrict abortion for the stated purpose of promoting health actually serve the government’s interest in promoting health; and (2) whether the Fifth Circuit erred in concluding that this standard permits Texas to enforce, in nearly all circumstances, laws that would cause a significant reduction in the availability of abortion services while failing to advance the State’s interest in promoting health – or any other valid interest.

RJR Nabisco v. The European Community, No. 15-138 [Arg: 3.21.16]

Issue(s): Whether, or to what extent, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) applies extraterritorially.

U.S. v. Texas, No. 15-674 [Arg: 4.18.2016, Transcript]

Issue(s): (1) Whether a state that voluntarily provides a subsidy to all aliens with deferred action has Article III standing and a justiciable cause of action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to challenge the Secretary of Homeland Security’s guidance seeking to establish a process for considering deferred action for certain aliens because it will lead to more aliens having deferred action; (2) whether the guidance is arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law; (3) whether the guidance was subject to the APA’s notice-and-comment procedures; and (4) whether the guidance violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, Article II, section 3.

Bernard v. Minnesota, No. 14-1470 [Arg: 4.20.2016] (Includes Beylund v. Levi, No. 14-1507 and Birchfield v. North Dakota, No. 14-146)

Issue(s): Whether, in the absence of a warrant, a state may make it a crime for a person to refuse to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol in the person’s blood.

Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, No. 15-415 [Arg: 4.20.2016, Transcript]

Issue(s): Whether “service advisors” at car dealerships are exempt under 29 U.S.C. §213(b)(10)(A) from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime-pay requirements.

Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, No. 15-446 [Arg: 4.25.2016]

Issue(s): (1) Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that, in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board may construe claims in an issued patent according to their broadest reasonable interpretation rather than their plain and ordinary meaning; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in holding that, even if the Board exceeds its statutory authority in instituting an IPR proceeding, the Board’s decision whether to institute an IPR proceeding is judicially unreviewable.

Mathis v. U.S., No. 15-6092 [Arg: 4.26.2016]

Issue(s): Whether a predicate prior conviction under the Armed Career Criminal Act must qualify as such under the elements of the offense simpliciter, without extending the modified categorical approach to separate statutory definitional provisions that merely establish the means by which referenced elements may be satisfied rather than stating alternative elements or versions of the offense.

McDonnell v. U.S., No. 15-474 [Arg: 4.27.2016, Transcript]

Issue(s): Whether “official action” under the controlling fraud statutes is limited to exercising actual governmental power, threatening to exercise such power, or pressuring others to exercise such power, and whether the jury must be so instructed; or, if not so limited, whether the Hobbs Act and honest-services fraud statute are unconstitutional.

  8 comments for “SCOTUS Watch – Monday, June 20th

  1. JanF
    June 20, 2016 at 9:23 am

    #WaitingForLyle

    Orders (new cases to take for next term) at 9:30am Eastern and opinions at 10:00am. I will be back for the opinions …

    • JanF
      June 20, 2016 at 9:38 am

      One important order note – the court turned down the challenge to Connecticut’s ban on assault weapons. That means it stays in force.

  2. June 20, 2016 at 10:07 am

    There aren’t many days left in June when they can hand down decisions!

    • JanF
      June 20, 2016 at 10:30 am

      They will probably add more opinion days. We will find out shortly.

  3. JanF
    June 20, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Three boxes of opinions:

    Taylor v. US. Vote is 7-1.

    Justice Alito has the decision for the Court. Fourth Circuit is affirmed.d

    Holding: The prosecution in a Hobbs Act robbery case satisfies the Act’s interstate commerce element if it shows that a defendant robbed or attempted to rob a drug dealer of drugs or drug proceeds.

    2nd Case:

    Justice Alito has another one. RJR Nabisco v. European Community.

    The decision of the Second Circuit is reversed and remanded. Justices are all over the lot.

    Holding: The law of extraterritoriality provides guidance in determining RICO’s reach outside the United States.

    There are different Justices joining different parts of the opinion. Ginsburg concurs in part, dissents in part and dissents from the judgment, joined by Breyer and Kagan.

    Irrespective of any extraterritoriality of the law”s substantive provisions, a private right of action does not overcome the presumption against extraterritoriality and thus a private plaintiff must allege and prove a domestic injury.

    The presumption against extraterritoriality has been rebutted with respect to certain applications of RICO’s substantive prohibitions.

    Third case:

    Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee, per Breyer

    The decision of the Federal Circuit is affirmed.

    There is some division among the Justices w/r/to the main opinion. Thomas concurs; Alito concurs in part and dissents in part, joined by Sotomayor.

    Fourth Case:

    Utah v. Strieff. Justice Thomas has the opinion. Utah Supreme Court is reversed. The vote is 5-3.

    Justice Sotomayor dissents, joined by RBG as to Parts 1-3; Kagan dissents, joined by Ginsburg.

    In this case, there was no flagrant police conduct, so the discovery of a valid arrest warrant attenuated the connection between the unconstitutional stop and the evidence seized pursuant to the arrest.

  4. JanF
    June 20, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Final case:

    Encino Motorcars v. Navarro.

    Kennedy for the Court. Decision of the Ninth Circuit is vacated and remanded. Ginsburg concurs, joined by Sotomayor; Thomas dissents, joined by Alito, so -2.

    Holding: The Fair Labor Standards Act must be construed without placing controlling weight on the Labor Department’s 2011 regulation.

    This was a case involving the interpretation of the FLSA’s overtime exemption.

    Holding: The Fair Labor Standards Act must be construed without placing controlling weight on the Labor Department’s 2011 regulation.

    Court holds that the Department of Labor needed a more reasoned explanation for its decision to depart from the existing enforcement policy. Instead, it said almost nothing.

    The issue was whether service advisors at car dealerships are “salesmen” for purposes of the FLSA’s overtime exemption; the service advisors had argued that they are not and can get overtime, while the car dealerships had argued that they are.

  5. JanF
    June 20, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Thursday has been added as an extra opinion day. The liveblog will start at 9:30.

    Eight cases left!!!

  6. JanF
    June 20, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Here is Amy Howe’s recap of the 13 cases that were remaining before today’s session. In Plain English.

    Today’s five cases previewed, to help understand who the winners and losers are:

    Utah v. Strieff (argued February 22, 2016). When a police officer stops a pedestrian in violation of the law, asks him for identification, discovers that there is a traffic warrant for his arrest, arrests him, and in the process of searching him discovers drug paraphernalia and methamphetamines, can the evidence found in the search of the pedestrian be used against him? Edward Strieff argues that it cannot: because the police officer’s stop was illegal, then anything obtained as a result of the stop is also tainted. The state, on the other hand, contends that the evidence should be admitted because it resulted from the lawful warrant for his arrest, rather than the illegal stop.

    Taylor v. United States (argued February 23, 2016). The petitioner in this case, David Taylor, was part of a Virginia gang that robbed drug dealers. The two robberies that led to this case, however, did not yield any drugs – only cellphones, jewelry, and a small amount of money. Taylor was indicted on federal charges that he had violated the Hobbs Act, which punishes robberies and extortion but applies only when the defendant “obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce.” The question before the Court is whether the federal government is required to prove facts to show that the defendant’s conduct actually affects commerce.

    RJR Nabisco v. The European Community (argued March 21, 2016). The issue in this case is whether and to what extent the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a 1970 law that was originally enacted to target organized crime, applies outside the United States. The European Community filed a lawsuit in the United States, seeking to hold RJR liable for what it says is the company’s role in an international money-laundering plot that harmed European countries. RJR counters that nothing in the law suggests that Congress intended it to apply to a situation like this. Justice Samuel Alito is almost certainly writing the Court’s opinion in this case, because he is the only Justice who has not yet written for the Court’s March sitting; based on the oral argument, that could bode well for RJR.

    Encino Motorcars v. Navarro (argued April 20, 2016). This case requires the Court to weigh in on the interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which generally requires employers to pay overtime to employees who work for more than forty hours in a week but also contains a variety of exceptions – including for a salesman whose primary job is selling or servicing cars. The respondents in this case are service advisors at a car dealership, who argue that they are not included in the exemption and are therefore entitled to overtime.

    Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee (argued April 25, 2016). This blog’s Ronald Mann has described this case as a “potential landmark patent case.” In 2011, Congress adopted a law that allows a competitor that wants to challenge a patent to do so before the Patent and Trademark Office. The main question before the Court is what standard the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which rules on the challenge, should use to decide whether to invalidate the patent.

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