Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

On Wednesday the Court hears oral arguments in Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. Ronald Mann previewed the case for us.

Petition of the day

By on Dec 1, 2015 at 11:00 pm

The petition of the day is:


Issue: Whether a district court can refuse to apply the Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises, Inc. standard based on its value judgment that Congress would not have wanted Shelby County to recover its attorney’s fees.


Yesterday’s argument in Musacchio v. United States consisted of repeated, polite expressions of rejection, with every Justice who spoke voicing mystification about, or disagreement with, Musacchio’s arguments.  The case presents two general procedural questions about criminal law in the context of a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act conviction – but the Justices seemed to realize yesterday that the case is very fact-specific.  Other than settling some arguable circuit splits and mentioning other scenarios in which its ruling may not apply, the Court’s opinion will likely produce a unanimous judgment in the government’s favor.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted twenty-six states an extra eight days to file their response to the Obama administration’s appeal in defense of its broad new immigration policy.  That extension — considerably less than the added thirty days the states had sought — makes it more likely that the case, United States v. Texas, will go before the Justices this Term.

The Court did not release a separate order on the issue, but Supreme Court Clerk Scott Harris simply notified the lawyers in the case that the normal thirty days for a brief in opposition would be extended by eight days — until December 29.

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On the first day of the new Term, the Justices heard oral arguments in the case of Carol Sachs.  The California woman was seeking to hold the Austrian national railroad liable in U.S. courts for the serious injuries that she suffered when she fell while attempting to board a train operated by the railroad in Innsbruck, Austria.  Today, the Court ruled unanimously that Sachs’s lawsuit cannot go forward, in a brief decision by Chief Justice John Roberts that does not appear to break much new ground in the sometimes complex area of foreign sovereign immunity.  Continue reading »

Argument transcripts

By on Dec 1, 2015 at 2:10 pm

The transcript in Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Manning is here; the transcript in Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. United States is here.

Posted in Merits Cases

Event announcement

By on Dec 1, 2015 at 1:29 pm

On December 7, the Cato Institute will host a preview of the oral arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.  Speakers include Andrew Grossman, John Paul Schnapper-Casteras, Gail Heriot, Richard Lempert, and Wallace Hall, a named defendant in the case; Ilya Shapiro will serve as moderator.  More information about this event, which will be held at 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., and will also be streamed live online, is available here.


We are live-blogging this morning as the Court issues opinions. Join us.

Posted in Live

Tuesday round-up

By on Dec 1, 2015 at 5:48 am

Yesterday the Court heard oral arguments in Green v. Brennan, in which the Justices are considering when the forty-five-day clock for a federal employee to meet with an equal employment opportunity counselor (a prerequisite to filing an employment discrimination suit) begins to run.  I covered the oral argument for this blog, with other coverage coming from Mark Walsh for Education Week and Scott Oswald at Law 360. Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up


A half-century after the Supreme Court declared the democratic ideal that the voters within a state should be equal to each other, it has indicated that it is finally ready to say how that should be measured.  “One person, one vote” was a very simple constitutional slogan.  But what does it mean, in the real world of sorting out election opportunity?

Next Tuesday, December 8, the Court will take up the case of Evenwel v. Abbott, a Texas case in which two voters have complained that, because they were placed in two state senate districts with many other voters, their votes count for less than those in other districts with fewer voters eligible to go to the polls.  Their plea raises the profound question, as important in practice as it is in theory: what, in a democracy, does representation mean?

TX Senate Map

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Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 5.19.25 PM

On Monday, December 7, the Court will hear arguments in the second federal Indian law case slated for the December sitting. This case pits the arguments of the Dollar General stores, a multi-billion dollar company, against those of a sophisticated federally recognized Indian tribe, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. The central question is whether tribal courts may properly exercise civil jurisdiction over non-Indians for tort claims. Dollar General argues that the Court has not resolved this specific question, but should find that tribal courts lack civil jurisdiction over tort claims absent congressional action or the clear consent of the non-Indian party subject to tribal court authority. The tribe and a significant number of amici, including the United States, contend that this legal issue is well settled and that the Choctaw tribal court properly has jurisdiction under clear facts applied to existing precedents. The outcome is likely to have an enormous impact on Indian tribal sovereignty and on tribal business relationships with business partners.

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