John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted and held cases.
Good thing we don’t call it “Relists Watch,” because we couldn’t satisfy the plural requirement. One lonely relist this week, which is still a big step up from last week’s goose egg. Smith v. Fields, 11-561, involves an Eighth Amendment and Equal Protection Clause challenge to a Wisconsin state law prohibiting the use of public funds for hormonal therapy or sex-change surgery for prison inmates. Three male-to-female transsexual inmates sued, a district court enjoined the law as unconstitutional, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I bet that decision is getting a close look in certain chambers.
Monday’s order list yielded just five new holds. Two of them, Watson v. United States, 11-8355, and Strowder v. United States, 11-8413, are joining the legions of cases awaiting the Fair Sentencing Act duo Dorsey v. United States, 11-5683, and Hill v. United States, 11-5721. One of them, Intermountain Insurance Services of Vail, LLC v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 11-663, is yet another hold for United States v. Home Concrete & Supply, 11-139, raising the apparently quite common issue whether an understatement of gross income attributable to an overstatement of basis in sold property is an “omi[ssion] from gross income” that triggers an extended six-year assessment period. One of them, Beeler v. Astrue, 11-667, appears to be a hold for Astrue v. Capato, 11-159, which raises the way-more-common-than-you’d-think question of whether a child who was conceived after the death of a biological parent, but who cannot inherit personal property from that biological parent under applicable state intestacy law, is eligible for child survivor benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq.
Finally, Rio Tinto PLC v. Sarei, 11-649, raises questions about application of the Alien Tort Statute arising from conduct occurring entirely within the jurisdiction of a foreign sovereign, and thus is almost certainly being held for Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, 10-1491. Indeed, the case will be waiting longer for an answer now, because the Court on Monday ordered reargument in Kiobel to address the first question presented by the petition in Rio Tinto, namely whether the Alien Tort Statute allows courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law of nations occurring entirely within the territory of another country.
That, mercifully, is all for this week—an update barely half as long as last week’s already short installment. If present trends continue, I’ll be able to do the April updates in haiku.
Thanks to Conor McEvily for compiling the cases for this update.
Smith v. Fields (relisted after the 3/2 Conference)
Issue(s): (1) Whether the Seventh Circuit erred by upholding an injunction against a state law prohibiting the use of public funds to finance sexual reassignment surgery for inmates; and (2) whether the Eighth Amendment requires state prisons to treat gender identity disorder with hormone therapy to make an inmate look more like the opposite gender.
Certiorari stage documents