When the justices return to the bench in January, they will face a nearly full argument calendar: nine arguments over five days of oral arguments. (No arguments are scheduled on the tenth day in the sitting, January 16, because it is a federal holiday.) The January calendar, which was released yesterday, includes several high-profile cases, ranging from a dispute over credit-card surcharges to a First Amendment challenge to the federal government’s refusal to register “disparaging” trademarks and a trio of cases arising out of the arrest and detention of Middle Eastern men after the September 11 attacks.
Today the court hears oral argument in Life Technologies v. Promega, a patent case that asks when export of a “substantial portion” of the components of a patented invention for assembly outside the U.S. creates patent infringement liability. John Duffy previewed the case for this blog. Andrew R. Maury and Scott Benjamin Cohen of Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute also provide a preview of the case.
The petition of the day is:
Issues: (1) Whether the warrantless access and use of hundreds of data points showing the petitioner’s historical cell phone location over a weeklong period was a search that violated the petitioner’s federal Fourth Amendment rights; and (2) whether the show-up of the petitioner was unnecessarily suggestive, resulting in unreliable out-of-court and in-court identifications that violated his federal constitutional right to due process of law.
“It is a very tough matter,” observed Justice Stephen Breyer, summarizing the questions with which the justices were grappling today. Federal law permits (and sometimes requires) states to consider race when drawing district lines, to create legislative districts in which a majority of voters are members of a minority group, but at the same time the Constitution bars states from making race the predominant factor when drawing districts. “No one,” Breyer continued, “seems to have a good answer to” the dilemma facing the Supreme Court – how courts should determine when the use of race becomes sufficiently pervasive that it crosses over to become unconstitutional racial gerrymandering, particularly when race correlates closely with political party. If there was a consensus on the court this morning after roughly two hours of oral arguments, it may have been this: Justices of all ideological stripes are tired of redistricting cases, and they would really prefer to leave the business of drawing and reviewing legislative maps to the legislature. To that end, the justices seemed to be considering issuing opinions that might not immediately resolve the two cases before them, but which could give more concrete guidance to courts reviewing future racial gerrymandering claims. Whether they can coalesce around such rulings remains to be seen. Continue reading »
Today the court hears oral argument in two redistricting cases from Virginia and North Carolina, Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections and McCrory v. Harris. Amy Howe previewed the cases for this blog. Liza Carens and Jenna Scoville provide a preview of McCrory for Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute. At the Associated Press, Mark Sherman reports that the “claim made by black voters in both states is that Republicans created districts with more reliably Democratic black voters than necessary to elect their preferred candidates, making neighboring districts whiter and more Republican.” Additional coverage comes from Nina Totenberg at NPR, who reports that the cases present “the challenge of finding a delicate balance in considering race when drawing political boundaries — and the court’s reluctance to weigh in on partisan politics.”
The court issued additional orders from the December 2 conference on Monday. The court did not grant any new cases or call for the views of the solicitor general in any cases. The court also heard oral arguments in two cases. On Tuesday, the court released its opinions in three cases. The court will also hear oral arguments again on Tuesday and Wednesday, beginning at 10 a.m. each day. The calendar for the December sitting is available on the court’s website. On Friday the justices will meet for their December 9 conference; our list of “petitions to watch” for that conference will be available soon.
Oyez has posted audio and transcripts from this week’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court.
The court heard argument this week in:
The petition of the day is:
Issue: Whether the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, categorically forecloses corporate liability.
Today the Supreme Court added seven new cases, for a total of five hours of oral argument, to its merits docket for this term. The cases cover a range of issues, from a divorced couple’s dispute over military retirement pay to the scope of the patent exhaustion doctrine, as well as the excessive use of force by the police, the contours of an exemption from federal employee benefits laws for churches, and the interpretation of an international convention on the service of process.