Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

On Monday at 9:30 a.m., we expect the Court to issue additional orders from the November 24 Conference. We expect one or more opinions in argued cases on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Petitions We’re Watching

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Petitions Relisted for the Next Conference

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
14-1372 White v. Wheeler (1) Whether the Sixth Circuit disregarded the highly deferential standards Congress imposed in 28 U.S.C. §§2254(d)(1), (d)(2) and (e)(1), and the deference owed to trial court’s factual finding of juror bias required by Wainwright v. Witt, when it granted habeas relief on Wheeler’s Witherspoon/Witt claim; and (2) whether a violation of Witherspoon/Witt should be subject to harmless error analysis.
14-1440 Triple Canopy v. U.S. ex rel. Badr (1) Whether a contractor’s knowing failure to comply with a contractual, statutory, or regulatory provision, without payment being conditioned on that provision, results in a false claim that violates Section 3729(a)(1)(A) of the False Claims Act under the “implied certification” theory of liability; (2) whether “implied certification” is a valid theory of liability under Section 3729(a)(1)(A) of the False Claims Act; and (3) whether, given Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b)’s requirement that all fraud claims be pleaded with particularity, a “false record or statement” claim under Section 3729(a)(1)(B) of the False Claims Act obliges a plaintiff to plead actual reliance by the government on the false record or statement in question.
14-10008 Wearry v. Cain (1) Whether the Louisiana courts erred in failing to find that the State’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence violated its obligation under Brady v. Maryland , and that this failure prejudiced the defense; and (2) whether the Louisiana courts erred in failing to find that petitioner’s sole attorney provided ineffective representation at the guilt phase of trial under Strickland v. Washington.
14-10078 Caetano v. Massachusetts (1) Whether a stun gun is an “arm” within the meaning of the Second Amendment, and (2) whether Massachusetts’s blanket prohibition on the possession of stun guns infringes the right of the people to keep and bear arms in violation of the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.
14-10376 Wheeler v. White (1) Whether the Sixth Circuit’s ruling – that the lack of Supreme Court case law holding that references to a victim’s pregnancy when the pregnancy is not an issue at trial violates due process means no “clearly established” law exists for purposes of 28 U.S.C. §2254(d) – conflicts with this Court’s rulings holding that “clearly established” law does not require a case with an identical fact pattern but instead includes legal principles and standards flowing from precedent and general standards designed to apply to a myriad of factual situations; and (2) whether this Court’s standard that a state evidentiary ruling can be so egregious as to deny a defendant fundamental fairness and thus violate the federal due process clause is broad enough to constitute “clearly established” law that applies when the prosecution introduces irrelevant evidence of a victim’s pregnancy; and, if so, whether the evidence regarding the victim’s pregnancy and the prosecutor’s ensuing argument are “contrary to” or an “unreasonable application of” this “clearly established” law.
15-118 Hernández v. Mesa (1) Whether a formalist or functionalist analysis governs the extraterritorial application of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unjustified deadly force, as applied to a cross-border shooting of an unarmed Mexican citizen in an enclosed area controlled by the United States; and (2) whether qualified immunity may be granted or denied based on facts – such as the victim’s legal status – unknown to the officer at the time of the incident.
15-133 Friedman v. City of Highland Park (1) Whether the Constitution allows the government to prohibit law-abiding, responsible citizens from protecting themselves, their families, and their homes with a class of constitutionally protected “arms” that includes the most popular rifles in the nation; and (2) whether the Constitution allows the government to prohibit law-abiding, responsible citizens from protecting themselves, their families, and their homes with ammunition magazines that number in the tens of millions and make up nearly half of the nation’s total stock of privately owned ammunition magazines for handguns and rifles.
15-161 Rapelje v. Blackston (1) Whether the Sixth Circuit erred when it granted habeas relief based on the theory that respondent was denied the right to confront the two witnesses when the state courts did not allow him to introduce their post-testimony written recantations to impeach their former testimony; (2) whether the Sixth Circuit erred in holding that a written statement recanting former testimony is not “extrinsic” to that testimony and that such statements may be admitted by merely “recit[ing] [them] to the jury” without an authenticating witness; and (3) whether the Sixth Circuit erred in concluding that the state court’s determination that any error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt was objectively unreasonable, where there was other substantial evidence of respondent’s guilt and the evidence was interlocking and not dependent on the credibility of any single witness.
15-169 Taylor v. Yee (1) Whether the Ninth Circuit’s judgment in this case should be granted, vacated, and remanded in light of Horne v. Department of Agriculture, and (2) whether the California Unclaimed Property Law violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it deprives owners of their property without affording constitutionally adequate notice.
15-5756 Tuomi v. U.S. Whether the residual clause of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, Section 4B1.2, should be declared void for vagueness.

Petitions for Conference of 11.24.2015

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-244 Embarq Corporation v. Fulghum Whether the “fraud or concealment” exception to the statute of repose found in 29 U.S.C. § 1113 for alleged breaches of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act fiduciary’s duty applies only when a defendant takes affirmative steps to hide the alleged breach – as the First, Third, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and D.C. Circuits have held – or whether the exception can be invoked any time the underlying claim is premised on a fraud theory – as the Second and Tenth Circuits have held.
15-241 Fulghum v. Embarq Corporation Whether a welfare plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act must include “clear and express” vesting language as a prerequisite to a contractual-vesting claim as a matter of law.
15-233 Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust Whether Chapter 9 of the federal Bankruptcy Code, which does not apply to Puerto Rico, nonetheless preempts a Puerto Rico statute creating a mechanism for the commonwealth’s public utilities to restructure their debts.
15-162 Paske v. Fitzgerald (1) Whether the rule in USPS Board of Governors v. Aikens applies to the evaluation of a discrimination claim at summary judgment; and (2) whether a plaintiff claiming discrimination is required to prove, as an element of a prima facie case, that he or she was treated less favorably than a “nearly identical” “similarly situated” individual who is not a member of the protected class, a Fifth Circuit requirement which courts have characterized as “stringent,” “strict,” and “demanding.”
15-46 Davis v. Abbott (1) Under what circumstances are plaintiffs who obtain preliminary relief in cases that do not proceed to final judgment prevailing parties eligible for an award of attorneys’ fees? and (2) whether the simplicity of a legal claim is a factor relevant only to the amount of fees awarded as the Third and Tenth Circuits have held and as this Court and others have suggested, or whether “simple” legal claims, otherwise made eligible for fees by Congress, involve insufficient “merits” analysis to trigger prevailing party status, as the Fifth Circuit held.
15-9 Cintron v. Massachusetts Whether a defendant asserting a structural error in connection with the denial of his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial – where the defendant and his counsel were concededly unaware that the courtroom had been closed during the entirety of jury selection – must show that he was prejudiced by the courtroom closure on a collateral challenge to his conviction, or, whether prejudice is presumed because the harm from the structural error is “necessarily unquantifiable and indeterminate.”
14-1543 Hines v. Alldredge Whether restrictions on occupational speech are subject to First Amendment scrutiny, or only rational-basis review.
14-1375 CRST Van Expedited v. EEOC Whether a dismissal of a Title VII case, based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s total failure to satisfy its pre-suit investigation, reasonable cause, and conciliation obligations, can form the basis of a attorney’s fee award to the defendant under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(k).

Petitions for Conference of 12.04.2015

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-441 Hill v. Curtin (1) Whether it is an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law to deny the right of self-representation at trial where doing so was not necessary to further any valid government interest; and (2) whether the Michigan Supreme Court’s purported factual finding that granting petitioner’s Faretta request would have caused disruption, undue inconvenience, and burden was objectively unreasonable.
15-245 Mann v. U.S. Whether the district court has jurisdiction to expunge an individual’s criminal record on equitable grounds.
15-65 Lizcano v. Texas Whether Texas’s standard for determining if a capital defendant meets the second prong of the definition of intellectual disability (“deficits in adaptive functioning”) violates the Eighth Amendment in light of Atkins v. Virginia and Hall v. Florida.
15-24 France v. U.S. Whether disability payments are “earnings” within the meaning of Section 303 of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, as applicable under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act.
14-493 Kent Recycling Services, LLC v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1) Whether a jurisdictional determination, that is conclusive as to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, and binding on all parties, is subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act; and (2) whether a due process claim against an agency action is subject to the finality requirement of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Petitions for Conference of 12.11.2015

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-479 Bennett v. Maryland Whether the Maryland courts erred in rejecting petitioner's Fifth Amendment challenge to the admission at trial of statements he made to detectives after telling them, during a custodial interrogation, “okay, so I need to call an attorney.”
15-475 Two Shields v. Wilkinson Whether Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure incorporates the common law rule that joint tortfeasors are not required parties.
15-363 AT&T v. U.S. ex rel. Heath Whether a relator asserting a claim under the False Claims Act can satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b)'s particular pleading requirement without setting forth specific facts regarding at least one allegedly false or fraudulent claim submitted to the government.
15-236 CarMax Auto Superstores California, LLC v. Areso Whether California's Iskanian rule, which categorically exempts representative Private Attorney General Act actions from mandatory arbitration, is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.
15-158 Sun-Times Media, LLC v. Dahlstrom (1) Whether, under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, police officers may sue a newspaper for publishing truthful information relating to matters of public concern if a judge determines that the information on balance was unworthy of constitutional protection; (2) whether, in cases where information was allegedly unlawfully supplied to a newspaper by authorized government sources, the government may punish the acquisition and ensuing publication; (3) whether the First Amendment to the United States Constitution permits an interpretation of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act that allows local police officers to sue a newspaper for publishing information provided by the Illinois Secretary of State; and (4) whether public officials can invoke the DPPA's restrictions on “disclosure” of “personal information” that “identifies an individual” to censor a newspaper's investigative report on a questionable police lineup because the report contained descriptive information supplied by the state government (e.g., height, weight, eye and hair color) that is not listed in the DPPA's definition of “personal information.”
15-141 American Freedom Defense Initiative v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (1) Whether the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) created a public forum by accepting for display on its property a wide array of controversial political and public-issue ads, including ads that address the same controversial subject matter as petitioners' pro-Israel ad, and thus violated the First Amendment by rejecting petitioners' ad based on its content; and (2) regardless of the nature of the forum, whether the MBTA's rejection of Petitioners' advertisement based on an advertising guideline that prohibits ads considered by MBTA officials to be “demeaning and disparaging” was a viewpoint-based restriction of speech in violation of the First Amendment.

Petitions Not Set for Conference

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-5004 Jacobs v. Louisiana (1) Whether the Eighth Amendment prohibits sentencing a child to life imprisonment without possibility of parole; (2) whether the Eighth Amendment prohibits sentencing a child to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for a homicide offense which does not require the prosecution to prove that the child personally killed or intended to kill; and (3) whether the Eighth Amendment prohibits sentencing petitioner, a sixteen-year-old, to two mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole.
15-674 U.S. v. Texas (1) Whether a state that voluntarily provides a subsidy to all aliens with deferred action has Article III standing and a justiciable cause of action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to challenge the Secretary of Homeland Security’s guidance seeking to establish a process for considering deferred action for certain aliens because it will lead to more aliens having deferred action; (2) whether the guidance is arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law; and (3) whether the guidance was subject to the APA’s notice-and-comment procedures.
15-655 Downs v. Van Orden (1) Whether the Ninth Circuit erred in denying qualified immunity to two jail employees without medical training on the ground that, at the time of a detainee’s death, it was clearly established that “the Eighth Amendment protects against deliberate indifference to a detainee's serious risk of suicide,” and that these two jail employees “did not need a more detailed standard”; and (2) whether a decision of a United States Circuit Court of Appeals may clearly establish law for purposes of qualified immunity in the absence of a robust consensus among other lower federal and state courts agreeing with that circuit court's decision.
15-649 Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corporation Whether a bankruptcy court may authorize the distribution of settlement proceeds in a manner that violates the statutory priority scheme.
15-641 Uintah County, Utah v. Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation Whether the court of appeals erred in defying this Court’s decision in Hagen v. Utah, with respect to reservation lands diminished by Congress.
15-640 Wasatch County, Utah v. Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation Whether the court of appeals erred in defying this Court’s decision in Hagen v. Utah and enjoining a proper state court prosecution of a tribal member on lands that this Court has held have been diminished by Congress.
15-638 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP v. Laurent Whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act requires that a plan's definition of “normal retirement age” must be based on the typical age at which the employer expects the plan's participants would retire from working.
15-623 Michigan Gaming Control Board v. Moody (1) Whether Garrity v. New Jersey and its progeny require regulators either to obtain a formal grant of immunity from all potential prosecutorial agencies or to issue a prophylactic notice about Garrity immunity before the regulators may take licensing action against a licensee who invokes the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering regulatory-related questions; and (2) whether an occupational licensee who shields himself from regulatory questioning with the Fifth Amendment and suffers licensing consequences can successfully wield the Fifth Amendment as a sword in a § 1983 action, even though the licensee provided no incriminating statements to the regulators and faced no criminal proceedings.
15-600 Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. South Carolina (1) Whether a state violates the First Amendment by penalizing a defendant for the content of its speech without requiring proof that the speech contains a knowing or reckless falsehood; (2) whether the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act preempts a state enforcement action that serves no compensatory purpose and instead simply seeks to penalize a pharmaceutical company for actions that are comprehensively regulated and overseen by the Food and Drug Administration; and (3) whether the imposition of a $124 million civil penalty, without any showing of actual deception, reliance, or injury, violates the Excessive Fines Clause.
15-583 Shelby County, Alabama v. Lynch Whether the 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.
15-580 Cook v. Barton (1) Whether, when a state court's decision on a prisoner's constitutional claim contains both reasoning substantively rejecting the claim and reasoning procedurally rejecting the claim, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act section 2254(d)’s standards apply to the claim; and (2) whether, if a lower court in the state proceedings rejects a state prisoner's claim “on the merits,” § 2254(d)’s standards nevertheless fall away whenever a higher court in the state proceedings rejects the claim on procedural grounds without addressing the claim substantively.
15-578 In re Butler (1) Whether Johnson v. United States has been “made retroactive” to second or successive petitions for habeas corpus within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h)(2), as the First, Seventh and Ninth Circuits have held in conflict with the Tenth and Eleventh Circuits; and (2) if not, whether this Court should now make Johnson retroactive.
15-577 Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley Whether the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violates the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses when the state has no valid Establishment Clause concern.
15-574 Mueller v. Mueller Whether the Social Security Act’s anti-assignment provision bars a state court from considering in any manner future Social Security payments in dividing marital property upon divorce.
15-565 Apple v. U.S. Whether vertical conduct by a disruptive market entrant, aimed at securing suppliers for a new retail platform, should be condemned as per se illegal under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, rather than analyzed under the rule of reason, because such vertical activity also had the alleged effect of facilitating horizontal collusion among the suppliers.
15-558 Colorado State Bd. of Education v. Taxpayers for Public Education Whether requiring a state to categorically deny otherwise neutral and generally available public aid on the basis of religion violates the United States Constitution.
15-557 Douglas Cnty. School Dist. v. Taxpayers for Public Education Whether Colorado’s Blaine Amendment, which the unrebutted record plainly demonstrates was born of religious bigotry, can be used to force state and local governments to discriminate against religious institutions without violating the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
15-556 Doyle v. Taxpayers for Public Education Whether it violates the Religion Clauses or Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution to invalidate a generally-available and religiously-neutral student aid program simply because the program affords students the choice of attending religious schools.
15-550 Stackhouse v. Colorado Whether a criminal defendant’s inadvertent failure to object to courtroom closure is an “intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right” that affirmatively waives his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial, or is instead a forfeiture, which does not wholly foreclose appellate review?
15-549 Direct Digital, LLC v. Mullins Whether a court may certify a class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) where the plaintiff fails to make any showing of a reliable and administratively feasible means for ascertaining class membership.
15-543 Sissel v. Dep’t of Health & Human Services (1) Whether the Affordable Care Act’s tax on going without health insurance is a “Bill[] for raising Revenue” to which the Origination Clause applies; and (2) whether the Senate's gut-and-replace procedure was a constitutionally valid “amend [ment]” pursuant to the Origination Clause.
15-537 Bravo-Fernandez v. U.S. (1) Whether, under Ashe v. Swenson and Yeager v. United States, a vacated, unconstitutional conviction can cancel out the preclusive effect of an acquittal under the collateral estoppel prong of the Double Jeopardy Clause; and (2) whether, under Evans v. Michigan the Double Jeopardy Clause permits a district court to retract its “judgment of acquittal” entered on remand as an interpretation of the Court of Appeals mandate.
15-533 Isom v. Indiana Whether the determination that aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating circumstances must be made by a unanimous jury, beyond a reasonable doubt.
15-527 Mebo Int'l v. Yamanaka Whether state anti-SLAPP statutes are properly applied in federal diversity cases, or whether doing so runs afoul of the Erie doctrine.
15-513 State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. v. U.S. (1) What standard governs the decision whether to dismiss a relator's claim for violation of the False Claims Act's seal requirement; and (2) whether and under what standard a corporation or other organization may be deemed to have “knowingly” presented a false claim, or used or made a false record, in violation of section 3729(a) of the False Claims Act based on the purported collective knowledge or imputed ill intent of employees other than the employee who made the decision to present the claim or record found to be false, where (i) the employee submitting the claim or record independently made the decision to present the claim or record in good faith after reviewing the available information and (ii) there was no causal nexus between the submission of the false claim or record and the purported collective knowledge or imputed ill intent of those other employees.
15-511 Law Office of Joseph Onwuteaka v. Serna (1) Whether the one-year statute of limitations for seeking relief under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act begins to run when the offending debt collection suit is first filed, or when it is served; and (2) whether this Court should resolve the split of authority among the circuit courts of appeals and the federal district courts about whether the one-year statute of limitations for seeking relief under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act begins to run when the offending debt collection suit is first filed, or when it is served.
15-507 Sensational Smiles, LLC v. Mullen (1) Whether protecting favored groups from economic competition is a legitimate government interest under the Fourteenth Amendment; and (2) whether, in a case challenging economic regulation under the Fourteenth Amendment, a plaintiff can defeat a motion for summary judgment by introducing evidence showing that there is no plausible connection between the challenged regulation and the government's asserted ends.
15-505 Townsend v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. (1) Whether a judgment that conclusively determines liability, sets forth the amount of a money judgment, and orders the sale of property is final under 28 U.S.C. § 1291; and (2) whether, alternatively, such a judgment is final and appealable under the effective finality doctrine first announced in Forgay v. Conrad.
15-497 Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools Whether the Handicapped Children's Protection Act of 1986 commands exhaustion in a suit, brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, that seeks damages - a remedy that is not available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
15-493 James v. City of Boise Whether the Idaho Supreme Court correctly concluded that Hughes v. Rowe and Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC do not bind state courts because this Court “does not have authority to limit the discretion of state courts where such limitation is not contained in the statute.”
15-492 Ash v. Anderson Merchandisers, LLC (1) Whether, when a district court dismisses a complaint without leave to amend, a subsequent motion for leave to amend should be judged by ordinary Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) standards (as the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits have held), or whether a post-judgment motion seeking leave to amend is a “disfavored” motion that the court has “considerable discretion to deny,” as the Eighth Circuit (joining the minority view of the First, Sixth, and Ninth Circuits) held here; and (2) whether, when considering whether a plaintiff has unduly delayed seeking leave to amend after a dismissal for failure to state a claim, the court must count only the time from the date on which the motion was granted (as the Second, Sixth, and Seventh Circuits have held), or whether the court may penalize the plaintiff for not seeking to amend while the motion was pending by counting the time from the date on which a motion to dismiss was filed, as the Eighth Circuit (in accord with the views of the First and Third Circuits) held here.
15-491 Pennsylvania v. Federal Community Defender Organization of Philadelphia Whether Congress has created a right to federally funded counsel in state capital post-conviction proceedings, in state court, prior to completing federal habeas litigation, notwithstanding this Court's contrary decision in Harbison v. Bell.
15-485 Tetzlaff v. Educational Credit Management Corp. (1) Whether the Brunner test is the proper standard for determining “undue hardship” for the discharge of student loan debt; and (2) whether, if the Brunner test is the proper standard, that test should be (i) modified to eliminate the requirement that a debtor in the past have “made a good faith effort to repay the loans,” and (ii) clarified to establish that a debtor need only prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his inability to pay is “ likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period,” not that there is a “certainty of hopelessness.”
15-483 Frew v. Traylor (1) Whether, in interpreting the provisions of a consent decree, and in deciding whether those provisions should be dissolved, a court should consider the purpose for which the provisions were adopted; and (2) whether, in interpreting the provisions of a consent decree, and in deciding whether those provisions should be dissolved, a court should give weight to the interpretation of the provisions by the judge who originally approved them.
15-480 Town of Mocksville v. Hunter (1) Whether the First Amendment protects police officers who report misconduct in their ranks to a law enforcement agency for investigation; and (2) whether petitioners are entitled to qualified immunity.
15-478 American Int'l Group v. U.S. Whether the Second Circuit erred in impeding, and discriminating against, foreign investment by treating foreign income taxes not as taxes, but as expenses, in determining entitlement to the foreign tax credit.
15-474 McDonnell v. U.S. (1) Whether “official action” under the controlling fraud statutes is limited to exercising actual governmental power, threatening to exercise such power, or pressuring others to exercise such power, and whether the jury must be so instructed; or, if not so limited, whether the Hobbs Act and honest-services fraud statute are unconstitutional; and (2) whether a trial court must ask potential jurors who admit exposure to pretrial publicity whether they have formed opinions about the defendant's guilt based on that exposure and allow or conduct sufficient questioning to uncover bias, or whether courts may instead rely on those jurors' collective expression that they can be fair.
15-467 Alaska v. Organized Village of Kake Whether the Ninth Circuit's decision below contravenes the basic administrative law principle, established by this Court's decisions, that an executive agency may change the policies of a previous administration based on the new administration's different values and priorities, even though the relevant facts are unchanged.
15-458 Dietz v. Bouldin Whether, after a judge has discharged a jury from service in a case and the jurors have left the judge's presence, the judge may recall the jurors for further service in the same case.
15-457 Microsoft Corp. v. Baker Whether a federal court of appeals has jurisdiction to review an order denying class certification after the named plaintiffs voluntarily dismiss their claims with prejudice.
15-456 Jefferson v. Certain Underwriters of Lloyd’s, London Whether the Court should overrule Thermtron Products, Inc. v. Hermansdorfer.
15-450 Angov v. Lynch Whether a State Department report that does no more in substance than convey double-hearsay statements made by unnamed officials of the foreign government alleged to have persecuted an asylum applicant constitutes “substantial evidence” sufficient to support an agency finding that the applicant should be denied asylum.
15-449 Johnson & Johnson v. Reckis Whether the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court erred when it held, in direct conflict with the Seventh Circuit, that FDA's rejection of warning language proposed in a Citizen Petition is not “clear evidence” sufficient to preempt state tort claims that the manufacturer was obligated to add the FDA-rejected language to its drug's labeling.
15-446 Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee 1. Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that, in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board may construe claims in an issued patent according to their broadest reasonable interpretation rather than their plain and ordinary meaning; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in holding that, even if the Board exceeds its statutory authority in instituting an IPR proceeding, the Board's decision whether to institute an IPR proceeding is judicially unreviewable.
15-428 Miller v. Federal Election Commission Whether the ban on political contributions by federal contractors in 52 U.S.C. § 30119, as applied to individuals such as petitioner and the other plaintiffs, is sufficiently tailored to meet the requirements of the Equal Protection component of the Fifth Amendment and the First Amendment to the Constitution.
15-424 Electronic Arts v. Davis Whether the First Amendment protects a speaker against a state-law right-of-publicity claim that challenges the realistic portrayal of a person in an expressive work.
15-415 Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro Whether “service advisors” at car dealerships are exempt under 29 U.S.C. §213(b)(10)(A) from the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime-pay requirements.
15-410 Mezerhane v. Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela Whether and under what circumstances expropriations that violate binding international human rights treaties and/or norms of customary international law constitute takings in violation of “international law” under 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(3) (Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act) and 22 U.S.C. § 2370(e)(2) (Second Hickenlooper Amendment).
15-387 Doe v. Board of County Commissioners of Payne County, Oklahoma Whether the Americans with Disabilities Act requires a plaintiff to prove that her disability was the “sole cause” of the challenged conduct (as the Tenth Circuit has held repeatedly), or whether the Act permits claims when disability discrimination is accompanied by other factors (as every other federal court of appeals has held).
15-367 Bear Valley Mutual Water Co. v. Jewell (1) Whether the provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) “displace” the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or otherwise render NEPA analysis unnecessary, thus eliminating the requirement of environmental review when the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) adopts a designation of “critical habitat” that has the potential to significantly affect the human environment; and (2) whether Section 2(c)(2) of the ESA is a meaningless, non-operative statement of policy that fails to create any substantive or enforceable rights regarding cooperation by FWS with state and local governmental agencies to resolve water resource issues arising from administration of the ESA in concert with conservation of endangered species.
15-362 Ortiz-Franco v. Lynch Whether the Second Circuit erred in holding that 8 U.S.C. § 1252(a)(2)(C) divests the courts of appeals of jurisdiction to review factual claims challenging the denial of deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture.
15-349 Nestlé U.S.A. v. Doe (1) Whether a defendant is subject to suit under the Alien Tort Statute for aiding and abetting another person's alleged violation of the law of nations based on allegations that the defendant intended to pursue a legitimate business objective while knowing (but not intending) that the objective could be advanced by the other person's violation of international law; (2) whether the “focus” test of Morrison v. National Australian Bank, Ltd. governs whether a proposed application of the Alien Tort Statute would be impermissibly extraterritorial under Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.; and (3) whether there is a well-defined international-law consensus that corporations are subject to liability for violations of the law of nations.
15-328 Lawson v. Sun Microsystems Whether a party may appeal an order denying summary judgment after a full trial on the merits when the party bases its challenge on a circumscribed legal error, as opposed to an error concerning the existence of factual issues.
15-324 Gentry v. Rudin (1) Whether a later-overturned lower court decision accepting an untimely state habeas petition can equitably toll the federal habeas deadline when the prisoner was on notice that her state petition was filed late and she failed to file a protective federal petition per Pace v. DiGuglielmo; and (2) whether the Ninth Circuit's decision warrants summary reversal because, although it purported to toll Rudin's federal deadline because she was misled by the lower court, the Ninth Circuit without explanation granted an extra 254 days of additional equitable tolling for the period after the Nevada Supreme Court reversed the misleading decision.
15-316 Schumacher Homes of Circleville v. Spencer Whether the Federal Arbitration Act requires enforcement of an express agreement to delegate to the arbitrator all issues regarding “arbitrability” when the party opposing arbitration has not specifically challenged the delegation provision itself.
15-308 City of New York v. Newton (1) Whether a convicted prisoner can bring a § 1983 damages claim for deprivation of liberty - based on state DNA evidence-access procedures not mandated by the Constitution - when the same prisoner would have no due process right to habeas or actual release from prison due to alleged negligence in storing evidence; and (2) whether a municipality may be held liable under Monell v. Department of Social Services for negligent actions of line-level municipal employees in misfiling information necessary for the tracking and retrieval of evidence from a concluded criminal prosecution that would later prove exculpatory.
15-290 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. Whether the United States Army Corps of Engineers' determination that the property at issue contains “waters of the United States” protected by the Clean Water Act, constitutes “final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court," and is therefore subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act.
15-289 Thompson v. Lynch Whether an alien who fails to correct an address erroneously recorded by the government on a Notice to Appear, and who is subsequently ordered removed in absentia, may reopen his removal order when he was never advised of his obligation under 8 C.F.R. § 1003.15(d)(1) to correct the government's error.
15-280 Sam Francis Foundation v. Christie’s Whether, if a state statute does not in any way discriminate against, or impose an excessive burden on, interstate commerce, the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution nevertheless requires the statute's invalidation solely because it regulates commerce occurring beyond the borders of the state that enacted it.
15-276 Kansas v. Dull Whether the Kansas Supreme Court misinterpreted and improperly expanded the Supreme Court's decisions in Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama when it extended those decisions to a sentence that does not involve life imprisonment, holding that the Eighth Amendment categorically bars a sentence of mandatory lifetime postrelease supervision (i.e., non-incarceration) for juveniles convicted of serious sex offenses.
15-182 Farmer v. U.S. Whether the “additional duties” clause of the Federal Magistrates Act authorizes a magistrate to accept a felony guilty plea with the defendant's consent.
15-170 Morris v. U.S. Whether the First Circuit erroneously held - in conflict with the Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits, but consistent with the Seventh and Eleventh Circuits - that a mandatory minimum sentence imposed in violation of Alleyne, based on a fact found by a judge by a preponderance of the evidence at sentencing, can be deemed not to have affected the defendant's substantial rights, if an appellate court concludes that the fact was supported by “overwhelming evidence” offered only at sentencing, but never presented to a jury or admitted by the defendant in connection with a guilty plea.
15-113 Lawson v. Sauer Inc. Whether Bankruptcy Code Section 523(a)(2)(A) renders non-dischargeable a claim against a debtor based on a fraudulent transfer, in circumstances where the debtor did not make a misrepresentation.
15-58 City of Los Angeles v. Contreras (1) Whether the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness standard requires that a suspect threaten a police officer with a weapon before the police officer can use deadly force to apprehend the suspect, or whether Tennessee v. Garner allows a police officer to use deadly force to prevent the suspect‘s escape if based on the totality of the circumstances, the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer or others and where when feasible some warning has been given; (2) whether Tennessee v. Garner defeats a police officer’s entitlement to qualified immunity by providing fair and clear warning that it is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment for a police officer to use deadly force to apprehend a fleeing suspect where the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect has just committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm, if after the shooting it is discovered the suspect was unarmed.
15-28 Listecki v. Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (1) Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act shields religious exercise from burdensome applications of federal law only in litigation against the government, and - even if it does - whether statutorily appointed officers carrying out federal-law duties act “under color of law"; (2) whether the Bankruptcy Code's protection of creditors is a compelling governmental interest.
14-1531 Cowser-Griffin v. Griffin Whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act permits a state court to retroactively reassign plan benefits after the plan participant's death when the participant directed that the benefits would go to his spouse and when the plan documents directed that the benefits would go to the spouse absent the spouse's consent to reassignment.
14-1472 Connecticut v. Riley (1) Whether a juvenile homicide offender's 100-year aggregate discretionary sentence, imposed for three criminal acts committed against three victims, violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishments; and (2) whether, if the answer to the first question is yes, the Connecticut Supreme Court correctly concluded that the Eighth Amendment requires a sentencer not just to consider, but to give presumptive mitigating weight, a seventeen year old defendant's age and the attendant generalized features of youth before exercising its discretion and imposing three consecutive sentences totaling 100 years' incarceration for the murder of a child and the attempted murder of two other individuals.
14-1248 Jones v. Virginia (1) Whether the claimed authority of a trial court to suspend a statutorily-prescribed sentence of life without parole for a juvenile offender ensures the proportionality required by the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment; and (2) whether the Court's decision in Miller v. Alabama applies retroactively to cases on collateral review.
14-997 Currier v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (1) Whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires Mississippi to exempt physicians at the State’s only abortion clinic from complying with a medically legitimate health and safety regulation that applies to physicians at all other outpatient surgical facilities; and (2) whether Mississippi House Bill 1390, which requires that abortion physicians have admitting privileges at a local hospital to handle complications that require emergency hospitalization, imposes an undue burden under Planned Parenthood v. Casey regardless of the geographical availability of abortion services in adjoining states in light of the equal protection principle articulated in Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada.

Calls for the Views of the Solicitor General

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
22o144 Nebraska and Oklahoma v. Colorado (1) Whether the Court will grant Nebraska and Oklahoma leave to file an original action to seek a declaratory judgment stating that Sections 16(4) and (5) of Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution are preempted by federal law, and therefore unconstitutional and unenforceable under the Supremacy Clause, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution; (2) whether Colorado should be enjoined from any and all application and implementation of Sections 16(4) and (5) of Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution; (3) whether Colorado should be enjoined from any and all application and implementation of statutes or regulations promulgated pursuant to Sections 16(4) and (5) of Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution; and (4) whether Colorado should be ordered to pay the plaintiff states’ costs and expenses associated with this legal action, including attorneys’ fees.
14-1168 Smith v. Aegon Companies Pension Plan Whether ERISA’s special venue provision, § 1132(e)(2), and a plaintiff’s choice of venue under that provision, may be abrogated by a more restrictive venue-selection clause in an ERISA plan. CVSG: 11/27/2015.
14-1140 Tibbs v. Bunnell Whether state law may nullify the federal “patient safety work product” privilege, or whether, instead, the Kentucky Supreme Court erred by interpreting it not to protect information “normally contained in” documents subject to state reporting or recordkeeping requirements.
14-694 Fiordaliso v. PPL EnergyPlus, LLC Whether, where, as part of a state-directed procurement, the resulting contract between local utilities and a power plant developer provides for a payment to the power plant developer based on the differential between the developer's competitive bid to build a new power plant and the amount the developer receives from capacity sales in the auction supervised by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and where the contract does not involve any actual sale of capacity, the contract is “field preempted” as an attempt by the state to set interstate electric rates. CVSG: 09/16/2015.
14-634 CPV Power Development v. PPL EnergyPlus, LLC Whether, where, as a result of a state-directed procurement, the contract price to build and operate a power plant is the developer's bid price, and may result in payments beyond what the developer earns selling the plant's capacity in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-supervised auction, the program is “field preempted” as a state's attempt to set interstate wholesale rates. CVSG: 09/16/2015.

Petitions Held for Another Conference


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