The Supreme Court released its calendar today for the December sitting, which begins on November 27. During the six days of the sitting, the justices will hear 10 oral arguments: Four of the days will feature two oral arguments each, while two days have only one oral argument scheduled each day. Highlights of the sitting include the much-anticipated oral argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which a Colorado baker argues that requiring him to create custom cakes for same-sex wedding celebrations violates his right to religious freedom, and Carpenter v. United States, in which the justices will consider whether law-enforcement officials must obtain a warrant to request cell-phone records from a cell-phone service provider. The justices granted review in all of the cases on the December calendar before they returned from their summer recess; this means that the cases granted last week after the justices’ September 25 conference are likely to be scheduled for argument in the January sitting.
Here is a complete list of the cases slated for argument in the December sitting, along with brief summaries for the cases not already mentioned above:
Monday, November 27
Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group – A challenge to the constitutionality of an administrative process known as inter partes review, which can be used to contest the validity of patents that have already been issued.
SAS Institute v. Matal – Whether the Patent Trial and Appeal Board must issue a final written decision on all of the claims that are being challenged in inter partes review, or instead only some of them.
Tuesday, November 28
Cyan v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund – Whether a 1998 federal law, the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act, bars a state court from exercising jurisdiction over lawsuits that only allege violations of the Securities Act of 1933.
Digital Realty Trust v. Somers – Whether a lawsuit can go forward under the provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 protecting “whistleblowers” from retaliation when the plaintiff did not report alleged misconduct to the Securities and Exchange Commission and thus falls outside the act’s definition of “whistleblower.”
Wednesday, November 29
Carpenter v. United States
Monday, December 4
Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (consolidated with New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association v. NCAA) – Whether the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which prohibits states from authorizing sports-gambling schemes, violates the Tenth Amendment, which provides that powers which are not specifically given to the federal government or taken from the states are reserved for the states.
Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran – Whether the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which generally protects property in the United States that is owned by foreign governments from being seized but contains some limited exceptions, contains a “freestanding” immunity exception, or whether the other requirements for seizing a foreign state’s property instead still apply.
Tuesday, December 5
Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
Marinello v. United States — Whether a conviction for trying to impede or obstruct the administration of the tax laws requires the government to show that the defendant knew of a pending IRS action when he acted.
Wednesday, December 6
Murphy v. Smith – Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, when a prisoner is awarded money in a civil rights lawsuit, “a portion of the judgment (not to exceed 25 percent) shall be applied to satisfy the amount of attorney’s fees awarded against the defendants”: Does the phrase “not to exceed 25 percent” mean that 25 percent of the money awarded to the prisoner must go toward his attorney’s fees, before the defendants must also contribute to the fees, or can the district court require a smaller portion of the attorney’s fees to come out of the prisoner’s award?
[Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel on an amicus brief in support of the petitioner in Oil States Energy Services and is among the counsel to the respondents in Cyan. However, I am not affiliated with the firm.]