Petition of the day

By on Apr 27, 2017 at 11:23 pm

The petition of the day is:


Issues: (1) Whether the district court violated Vieth v. Jubelirer when it held that it had the authority to entertain a statewide challenge to Wisconsin’s redistricting plan, instead of requiring a district-by-district analysis; (2) whether the district court violated Vieth when it held that Wisconsin’s redistricting plan was an impermissible partisan gerrymander, even though it was undisputed that the plan complies with traditional redistricting principles; (3) whether the district court violated Vieth by adopting a watered-down version of the partisan-gerrymandering test employed by the plurality in Davis v. Bandemer; (4) whether the defendants are entitled, at a minimum, to present additional evidence showing that they would have prevailed under the district court’s test, which the court announced only after the record had closed; and (5) whether partisan-gerrymandering claims are justiciable.

SCOTUSblog is still accepting applications from current law students interested in interning with us. The principal focus of the internship (which is a paid one) will be assisting with the “Petition of the day” and “Petitions to watch” features on the blog and maintaining the case pages. This will require roughly 10 to 20 hours of work a week on a generally flexible work schedule, which can be accomplished remotely. The position will begin in early to mid-May, and the expected commitment would be through May 2018.

To qualify for the position, you must:

* Have a strong academic record

* Be currently enrolled in a J.D. or LL.M program (undergraduates are not eligible)

* Have excellent organizational skills and attention to detail

* Be able to work independently on deadline

* Have a strong interest in learning about the U.S. Supreme Court and its workings

* Have some experience working with (or at least interest in) blog or website technology

To apply, please send us the following materials:

* Cover letter

* Resume

* Contact information for two references

* A writing sample of no more than five double-spaced pages that has not been edited by anyone other than you

* An official or unofficial law school transcript

Application materials should be sent to Andrew Hamm ( and Molly Runkle ( Materials must be received by April 28 for consideration.


Asterisk Watch

By on Apr 27, 2017 at 11:59 am

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relists.

So in the April 7 edition, we trumpeted that that the newly installed Justice Neil Gorsuch would surely participate in his first conference on April 13. Wrong! As indicated in a footnote in the next order list, the new junior justice sat that conference out (as it turns out, getting ready for the April sitting). So of course we confidently predicted in the April 21 edition that Gorsuch was no doubt going to be in full-on note-taking mode at that day’s conference. Less Wrong. When the order list came out the following Monday, there were no asterisks announcing he hadn’t participated in considering the cases as a general matter. But the order list stated repeatedly, for applications, petitions, rehearing petitions, mandamus petitions and habeas corpus petitions, that “Justice Gorsuch took no part in the consideration or decision of this [matter].” If you counted everything up, the only matters Gorsuch discussed with his colleagues at that conference were five cert petitions (including one serial relist that was denied without comment, one serial relist that occasioned two opinions and one capital case that drew a dissent from Justice Stephen Breyer); two rehearing petitions in capital cases that previously were serial relists; and, most unusual of all, a decision granting a movant’s request to “proceed as a veteran” and thus pay no filing fees under Supreme Court Rule 40.

So why should you care about any of that? You shouldn’t. You should be out frolicking in the spring weather, or enjoying the monuments or doing something normal people do. But you’re not. You’re reading a Supreme Court blog. Reflect on your poor life choices for a moment.

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In its conference of April 28, 2017, the court will consider petitions involving issues such as whether a statute which does not amend any generally applicable substantive or procedural laws, but deprives the petitioner of the right to pursue his pending lawsuit, violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment; whether statistical racial disparities in the use of voting mechanisms or procedures are relevant to a vote denial claim under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; and whether the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to acquire cell-site location information used to track and reconstruct the location and movements of cell-phone users over extended periods of time.

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Thursday round-up

By on Apr 27, 2017 at 7:20 am

Yesterday the court heard oral argument in Maslenjak v. United States, which asks whether a naturalized U.S. citizen can be stripped of her citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on an immaterial false statement. Amy Howe analyzes the argument for this blog. In The New York Times, Adam Liptak reports that several of the “justices seemed taken aback” by the idea “that the government may revoke the citizenship of Americans who made even trivial misstatements in their naturalization proceedings.” Additional coverage of the argument comes from Jess Bravin in The Wall Street Journal, who reports that “[s]kepticism over the Trump administration’s broad view of government power didn’t translate into sympathy for Divna Maslenjak, the Bosnian Serb immigrant who filed the appeal.”  Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up

Petition of the day

By on Apr 26, 2017 at 11:23 pm

The petition of the day is:


Issue: Whether, once a suspect has been taken into custody and given the Miranda v. Arizona warning, the suspect’s “selective silence” – that is, the refusal to answer some but not other questions – may be used by the state to establish the suspect’s guilt at trial.

At oral argument today in the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices were not especially sympathetic to the plight of Divna Maslenjak. The 53-year-old came to the United States as a refugee in 2000, fleeing ethnic strife in the former Yugoslavia. Maslenjak became a U.S. citizen seven years later, but last fall she was deported to Serbia. U.S. immigration officials stripped her of her citizenship after she admitted that she had lied about her husband’s service in the Bosnian Serb military, but the justices seem likely to give her another shot at keeping it. Although they may not have been fans of Maslenjak personally, though, the justices were even less enthusiastic about the prospect of ruling for the government, expressing concern that such a ruling would give U.S. officials boundless discretion to take away citizenship based on even very minor lies.

During the first part of the argument, things didn’t necessarily look good for Maslenjak. The government had charged her with violating a federal law that authorizes both a fine and a prison sentence for anyone who “knowingly procures or attempts to procure, contrary to any law, the naturalization of any person.” The government argued that, when Maslenjak applied to become a citizen, she knew that she had lied to immigration officials when seeking to come to the U.S. as a refugee. Maslenjak countered that the government couldn’t take away her citizenship just because she lied; the lie had to be a “material” one – that is, one that would have affected the immigration officials’ decision.

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Tuesday morning’s argument in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California brought the justices a case at the intersection of class actions and personal jurisdiction. The case involves litigation by several hundred individuals from 33 states (many, but not all of them, from California) for injuries associated with the Bristol-Myers drug Plavix.

The question for the justices is whether California courts have the authority to adjudicate the claims brought against Bristol-Myers by individuals from other states. Although Bristol-Myers has extensive contacts with California, nothing about the claims of these particular plaintiffs involves California: Bristol-Myers did not develop or manufacture the drug in California and there is no reason to think that marketing, promotion or distribution in California was involved in the injuries of the out-of-state plaintiffs. The only way in which their claims relate to California is that the marketing and promotion of the pharmaceutical was conducted on a nationwide basis: The same advertising and distribution arrangements that reached the out-of-state plaintiffs were the ones that reached the in-state plaintiffs (who plainly can sue in California courts).

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Argument transcripts

By on Apr 26, 2017 at 2:49 pm

The transcript in Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc. is here; the transcript in Maslenjak v. United States is here.

Posted in Merits Cases

Wednesday round-up

By on Apr 26, 2017 at 7:17 am

Today the court hears oral argument in two cases. The first is Amgen Inc. v. Sandoz Inc. (consolidated with Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc.), a complex case involving rules for the licensing of biosimilars. John Duffy previewed the case for this blog. At Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, Gerard Salvatore also provides a preview. At Written Description, Katie Mladinich surveys the case, noting that the Federal Circuit quoted Churchill “in describing the statute as ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,’” and that the “Supreme Court is now faced with unraveling this riddle.” The second argument today of the day is in Maslenjak v. United States, which asks whether a naturalized U.S. citizen can be stripped of her citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on an immaterial false statement. Amy Howe had this blog’s preview.  Krsna Avila and Nicholas Halliburton preview the case for Cornell.   Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up
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