Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

This week the blog will publish a multi-part online symposium on United States v. Texas, a challenge by Texas and twenty-five states to the Obama administration's deferred-action policy for immigration. Contributions to this special feature, as well as an “explainer” by this blog's Lyle Denniston, are available here.

Petitions We’re Watching

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Petitions Relisted for the Next Conference

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
14-824 Carp v. Michigan Whether this Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama is retroactive.
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.
14-1472 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.
14-6673 Tolliver v. Louisiana (1) Whether Miller v. Alabama is retroactive to persons whose convictions and sentences are final and who are seeking collateral review, pursuant to this Court's opinion in Teague v. Lane; and (2) whether the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction over a state court determination of retroactivity of a case on collateral review, when a state has both adopted and applied Teague.
14-8106 Davis v. Michigan (1) Whether Miller v. Alabama applies retroactively to individuals sentenced to mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenses whose cases were no longer on direct review at the time Miller was announced; and (2) whether the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment forbids sentencing a child to life without parole when that child has been convicted of felony murder despite not having killed or intended to kill.
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.
14-10186 Ben-Levi v. Brown Whether the Fourth Circuit erred in affirming the denial of relief on the inmate petitioner's complaint alleging that the prison discriminated against him in violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act by refusing to permit him to organize a Jewish Bible study group.
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.
15-195 Doe v. Christie (1) Whether the communication, discussion, and information provided by licensed mental health counselors or doctors during counseling or other professional services with their clients or patients constitutes speech protected by the First Amendment; (2) whether a law permitting licensed mental health professionals and doctors to provide counseling concerning the subject of same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity but only if such counseling does not include the content and viewpoint that a minor may reduce or eliminate his unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity is a content-based restriction of speech subject to strict scrutiny under the firm rule handed down by this Court last term in Reed v. Town of Gilbert; and (3) whether a law that prohibits parents and minors from seeking and receiving licensed professional counseling consistent with their sincerely held religious convictions violates the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of the children.
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.
15-580 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.
15-584 American Freedom Defense Initiative v. King County (1) Whether King County 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 subject matter as petitioners’ anti-terrorism ad, and thus violated the First Amendment by rejecting Petitioners’ ad based on its message; (2) regardless of the nature of the forum, whether King County’s rejection of petitioners’ advertisement based on a claim that this public-issue ad was false or misleading violates the First Amendment; and (3) whether petitioners must demonstrate that there are no alternative ways to express their public-issue message in order for the court to find irreparable harm based on King County’s rejection of their ad.
15-648 V.L. v. E.L. Whether the Full Faith and Credit Clause permits a court to deny recognition to an adoption judgment previously issued by a court from a sister state, based on the forum court’s de novo determination that the issuing court erred in applying its own state’s adoption law.
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.

Petitions for Conference of 02.19.2016

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-680 Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1) Whether the court below erred in holding that race cannot predominate even where it is the most important consideration in drawing a given district unless the use of race results in “actual conflict” with traditional districting criteria; (2) whether the court below erred by concluding that the admitted use of a one-size-fits-all 55% black voting age population floor to draw twelve separate House of Delegates districts did not amount to racial predominance and trigger strict scrutiny; (3) whether the court below erred in disregarding the admitted use of race in drawing district lines in favor of examining circumstantial evidence regarding the contours of the districts; (4) whether the court below erred in holding that racial goals must negate all other districting criteria in order for race to predominate; and (5) whether the court below erred in concluding that the General Assembly's predominant use of race in drawing House District 75 was narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.
15-666 Bell v. Itawamba County School Board Whether and to what extent public schools, consistent with the First Amendment, may discipline students for their off-campus speech.
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.
15-599 American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA Whether the Third Circuit erred by deferring to EPA’s interpretation of the words “total maximum daily load” to permit EPA to impose a complex regulatory scheme that does much more than cap daily levels of total pollutant loading and that displaces powers reserved to the states.
15-597 Wal-Mart Stores v. Phipps Whether the Sixth Circuit erred in concluding, in conflict with the decisions of seven other circuits, that statutory limitations periods applicable to the claims of absent and unknown persons can be extended indefinitely by filing successive (or “stacked”) class actions.
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.
15-549 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.
15-533 Isom v. Indiana Whether the determination that aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating circumstances must be made by a unanimous jury, beyond a reasonable doubt.
15-511 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.
15-483 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.
15-324 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.
15-276 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.

Petitions for Conference of 02.26.2016

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-694 Harman Int'l Industries v. Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System (1) Whether, under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, a purported misrepresentation is sufficient to preclude protection under the safe harbor for forward-looking statements; (2) whether, under the Act, courts can consider an issuer's alleged knowledge to determine whether cautionary statements are “meaningful”; and (3) whether a vague and immeasurable characterization of results, such as sales were “very strong,” is immaterial puffery as a matter of law.

Petitions Not Set for Conference

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-777 Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple (1) Whether, where a design patent includes unprotected non-ornamental features, a district court should be required to limit that patent to its protected ornamental scope; and (2) whether, where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, an award of infringer’s profits should be limited to those profits attributable to the component.
15-765 Frank v. Poertner (1) Whether, or in what circumstances, a settlement that provides a disproportionate allocation of its pecuniary benefit to class counsel is “fair, reasonable, and adequate,” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e)(2); and (2) whether, or in what circumstances, the use of a cy pres remedy in lieu of attempting further distributions to actual class members is “fair, reasonable, and adequate,” under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e)(2).
15-716 Interval Licensing, LLC v. Lee Whether the Patent and Trademark Office can appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges.
15-689 Jones v. Thompson Whether the Court should resolve the conflict among the circuits and decide the question expressly left open in Magwood v. Patterson of whether a subsequent habeas petition challenging the undisturbed conviction would be second or successive after the state imposes only a new sentence following a remand for a resentencing.
15-683 Home Care Ass’n of America v. Weil (1) Whether this Court intended in Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke to allow the Department to deprive all third-party home care employers (who employ more than 90% of all home care employees) of their statutory right to avail themselves of exemptions to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act; (2) whether the D.C. Circuit erred in finding that Congress intended to exclude employees of third party employers from the home care exemptions, thereby conflicting with Coke’s contrary reading of Congressional intent and creating a conflict in the circuits; and (3) whether the Department’s new rule should be found to be unreasonable due to the agency’s failure to meaningfully address the relevant factors of unaffordability and lack of adequate state funding of the increased costs of home health care under the new rule.
15-682 Justice v. Hosemann Whether Mississippi can, consistent with the First Amendment, prohibit a small informal group of friends and neighbors from spending more than $200 on pure speech about a ballot measure unless they become a political committee, adopt the formal structure required of a political committee, register with the state, and subject themselves to the full panoply of ongoing record-keeping, reporting, and other obligations that attend status as a political committee.
15-675 Zepeda v. U.S. Whether, as construed by the Ninth Circuit, the Indian Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1153, impermissibly discriminates on the basis of race.
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.
15-623 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.
15-607 Biogen MA v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research Whether the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.
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?
15-537 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.
15-527 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.
15-467 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.
15-424 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.
15-363 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.

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. CVSG: 12/18/2015.
15-513 State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. v. U.S. ex rel Rigsby (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.
15-497 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.
15-118 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.
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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