This edition of “Petitions to Watch” features cases up for consideration at the Justices’ private conferences on December 5 and December 12. As always, the list contains the petitions on the Court’s paid docket that Tom has deemed to have a reasonable chance of being granted. To access previous editions of Petitions to Watch, visit our archives on SCOTUSwiki.

Conference of December 5, 2008

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Docket: 08-190
Title: Curry v. Hensinger
Issue: Whether a public school principal violated the First Amendment by prohibiting a student from attaching a religious message to candy canes used as part of a classroom exercise.

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Docket: 08-304
Title: Graham County Soil and Water Conservation District, et al. v. United States, ex rel. Wilson
Issue: Whether federal courts have jurisdiction over False Claims Act suits based on revelations in administrative reports or audits issued by state or local governments, as opposed to the federal government.

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Docket: 08-326
Title: Beard v. Hannon
Issue: Whether a federal district court lacks jurisdiction over corrections officials in another state sued over allegations relating to a prisoner’s transfer to the state in which the suit was filed.

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Docket: 08-441
Title: Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc.
Issue: Whether a plaintiff must present direct evidence of discrimination in order to obtain a mixed-motive instruction in a non-Title VII discrimination case.

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Conference of December 12, 2008

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Docket: 07-1428; 08-328
Title: Ricci, et al. v. DeStefano, et al.
Issue: Whether municipalities may decline to certify results of an exam that would make disproportionately more white applicants eligible for promotion than minority applicants, due to fears that certifying the results would lead to charges of racial discrimination.

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Docket: 08-235
Title: Rasul, et al. v. Myers, et al.
Issue: Whether a suit by former Guantanamo prisoners against military officials for alleged torture and religious humiliation was improperly dismissed.

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Docket: 08-310
Title: Polar Tankers, Inc. v. City of Valdez, Alaska
Issue: Whether a municipal tax that falls exclusively on large vessels in the city’s harbor violates the Tonnage Clause, Commerce Clause, or Due Process Clause. (Disclosure: Howe & Russell represent the respondent.)

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Docket: 08-345
Title: Alabama, et al. v. Pope
Issue: Whether a prevailing plaintiff is entitled to attorney’s fees from a defendant that ultimately agrees with its legal position.

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Docket: 08-388
Title: City of Philadelphia v. Lawrence
Issue: Whether paramedics trained in – but found not to be responsible for – fire suppression are exempt from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Docket: 08-517
Title: Curry v. Bulter
Issue: Whether the Court’s ruling in California v. Cunningham (2007), which struck down part of the state’s sentencing scheme, was dictated by the Court’s ruling in Blakely v. Washington (2004) or instead announced a “new rule” that cannot be applied retroactively on habeas review.

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