Petitions We’re Watching

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Petitions Relisted for the Next Conference

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-789 Johnson v. Lee (1) Whether, for federal habeas purposes, California’s procedural rule generally barring review of claims that were available but not raised on direct appeal is an “adequate” state-law ground for rejection of a claim; and (2) whether, when a federal habeas petitioner argues that a state procedural default is not an “adequate” state-law ground for rejection of a claim, the burden of persuasion as to adequacy rests on the habeas petitioner (as in the Fifth Circuit) or on the state (as in the Ninth and Tenth Circuits).
15-797 Moore v. Texas (1) Whether it violates the Eighth Amendment and this Court’s decisions in Hall v. Florida and Atkins v. Virginia to prohibit the use of current medical standards on intellectual disability, and require the use of outdated medical standards, in determining whether an individual may be executed; and (2) whether execution of a condemned individual more than three-and-one-half decades after the imposition of a death sentence violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
15-833 Kernan v. Hinojosa (1) Whether the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act’s presumption that a state decision rejecting a claim is a ruling on the merits can be rebutted by looking through to an earlier state ruling which applied a procedural bar that, under state law, could not be the basis for the later decision; and (2) whether, if so, a change in state law reducing a prisoner’s ability to earn future good-time credits based on new or continuing prison misconduct violates the Ex Post Facto Clause as applied to a prisoner who committed his underlying crime before the change in law.
15-861 United Student Aid Funds v. Bible (1) Whether Auer v. Robbins and Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co. should be overruled; and (2) whether, in affording deference to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulation that conflicts with the governing statute, regulations adopted through rulemaking, and decades of prior agency guidance, the Seventh Circuit’s decision conflicts with this Court’s decisions in Auer and Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp.
15-862 Stormans v. Wiesman Whether a law prohibiting religiously motivated conduct violates the Free Exercise Clause when it exempts the same conduct when done for a host of secular reasons, has been enforced only against religious conduct, and has a history showing an intent to target religion.
15-998 Medinol Ltd. v. Cordis Corp. Whether judges may use the equitable defense of laches to bar legal claims for damages that are timely under the express terms of the Patent Act.

Petitions for Conference of 05.12.2016

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-1146 Lee v. Fairfax County School Board (1) Whether the Court should establish a uniform standard to determine the point at which large arbitration costs unconscionably hinder private litigants from vindicating their rights in order to settle the three-way split that has developed among federal circuit courts since the Court's decision in Green Tree Fin. Corp.-Alabama v. Randolph; (2) whether mandatory arbitration agreements, in which government employers compel employees to forego judicial forums as a condition of employment, amount to a violation of the fundamental substantive due process right to access to the judicial system, or, at the very least, whether government-mandated arbitration agreements should be subject to a higher standard of review than the unconscionability standard the Court announced in Green Tree Fin. Corp.-Alabama as being applicable to private arbitration agreements; and (3) whether a mandatory arbitration agreement is per se unconscionable under Green Tree Fin. Corp.-Alabama when it fails to provide mutual appeal rights to the parties.
15-1135 Eagle US 2 LLC v. Abraham (1) Whether the district court’s application of a presumption against removal in Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) cases in direct defiance of a decision of this Court can be allowed to go uncorrected; (2) whether these “Louisiana cumulation” complaints comprise an action “similar” to a “class action” under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(1)(B); and (3) whether the Fifth Circuit also erred by rejecting Eagle’s argument in the alternative that the purportedly separate complaints qualified as a CAFA “mass action” under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(B)(i) because those complaints together included “100 or more persons.”
15-1118 Michael’s Floor Covering v. Resilient Floor Covering Pension Fund (1) Whether withdrawal liability can be imposed on an alleged successor to a defunct construction industry employer whose participation in a covered fund has terminated, where the defunct employer does not continue to perform work within the fund's jurisdiction and therefore under 29 U.S.C. § 1383 has incurred no withdrawal liability to pass on to any alleged successor; (2) whether such withdrawal liability can be imposed on an alleged successor to a defunct employer in the absence of a finding that the successor purchased a substantial portion of the assets of the predecessor employer, as required by this Court in Golden State Bottling Co. v. NLRB, and in the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act context by the Seventh Circuit and the Third Circuit, and the defunct employer has not maintained any financial or management interest in the alleged successor; and (3) whether the Ninth Circuit improperly departed from this Court’s definition of labor law “successorship,” in conflict with many other circuits and with this Court’s holding in Fall River Dyeing & Finishing Corp. v. NLRB, by requiring the district court to give “special significance” to whether the alleged successor has generated significant “relative revenue” from common customers over and above the numerous other factors identified by this Court.
15-1045 Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency v. U.S. ex rel. Oberg Whether the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, a statewide agency located in the capital and unambiguously treated as an arm of the state by Pennsylvania, is an arm of Pennsylvania for purposes of federal law, or is instead an “independent political subdivision” as determined by the Fourth Circuit and its multifactor balancing test.
15-1044 Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency v. Pele Whether the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, a statewide agency located in the capital and unambiguously treated as an arm of the state by Pennsylvania, is an arm of Pennsylvania for purposes of federal law, or is instead an “independent political subdivision” as determined by the Fourth Circuit and its multifactor balancing test.

Petitions for Conference of 05.19.2016

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-1256 Nelson v. Colorado Whether Colorado’s requirement that defendants must prove their innocence by clear and convincing evidence to get their money back, after reversal of conviction of a crime entailing various monetary penalties, is consistent with due process.
15-1156 Village Supermarkets v. Hanover 3201 Realty, LLC. (1) Whether an antitrust plaintiff that is neither a competitor nor a consumer in the alleged market has standing under the antitrust laws, particularly when there are other potential plaintiffs that would be more likely to have antitrust standing; and (2) whether this Court’s “objectively baseless” standard for the sham exception to Noerr-Pennington immunity described in Professional Real Estate Investors, Inc. v. Columbia Pictures Indus., Inc. (“PRE”) applies to a “series” of underlying cases notwithstanding this Court’s prior decision in California Motor Transport Co. v. Trucking Unlimited, and if not, whether four proceedings, each challenging the same construction project, can constitute such a “series” of cases.

Petitions Not Set for Conference

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
15-7250 Manrique v. U.S. Whether a notice of appeal from a sentencing judgment deferring restitution is effective to challenge the validity of a later-issued restitution award.
15-5991 Shaw v. U.S. Whether, in the bank-fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1344, subsection (1)’s “scheme to defraud a financial institution” requires proof of a specific intent not only to deceive, but also to cheat, a bank, as nine circuits have held, and as petitioner argued here.
15-1311 Pro-Football v. Blackhorse (1) Whether the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), violates the First Amendment; (2) whether § 2(a)’s disparagement clause is impermissibly vague, in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments; and (3) whether the government’s decades-long delay between registering a trademark and canceling the registration under § 2(a)’s disparagement clause violates due process.
15-1293 Lee v. Tam Whether the disparagement provision of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), which provides that no trademark shall be refused registration on account of its nature unless, inter alia, it “[c]onsists of . . . matter which may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute” is facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
15-1292 Caroni v. U.S. (1) Whether a trial court’s error in directing a verdict on venue can be deemed harmless when that element was genuinely contested by the defendant; and (2) whether the general business expenditures of a company that is engaged in illegal activity, but is not wholly illegitimate, satisfy the “promotion” prong of the money laundering statute.
15-1286 Unite Here Local 54 v. Trump Entm't Resorts Whether, under § 1113 of the Bankruptcy Code, a bankruptcy court may authorize a unionized debtor employer to abolish its employees’ pensions, health coverage and other benefits without complying with its bargaining obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, when no collective bargaining agreement exists.
15-1285 Shukh v. Seagate Technology, LLC Whether the “automatic assignment” rule of FilmTec Corp. v. Allied Signal, Inc. should be overruled because it extinguishes inventors’ constitutional and statutory rights to inventorship and ownership, especially in view of criticisms expressed by three Justices of this Court in Stanford University v. Roche Molecular Sys., Inc., and the reservation of that issue by the Court.
15-1281 Hartley v. Sanchez Whether individual detectives and an investigator are entitled to qualified immunity from a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for malicious prosecution based on allegations they knew or should have known the criminal suspect had cognitive limitations making his confession to a crime untrustworthy and not appropriately relied upon by law enforcement to support his arrest.
15-1266 Gutierrez-Rostran v. Lynch Whether a court of appeals has jurisdiction to hear a claim that the Board of Immigration Appeals erred in its interpretation of the law concerning the filing deadlines for asylum in 8 U.S.C. §1158 (a)(2)(D).
15-1261 Montgomery v. U.S. Whether the exclusion of evidence regarding petitioner’s intent during her prosecution for tax crimes violated the Sixth Amendment’s jury trial provision, a question unresolved by Cheek v. United States.
15-1257 Akbar v. U.S. Whether it violates the constitutional separation-of-powers or exceeds statutory authority for the President, rather than Congress, to prescribe the aggravating-factor elements that permit a court-martial to impose a death sentence on a member of the armed forces.
15-1251 National Labor Relations Board v. SW General Whether the precondition in 5 U.S.C. 3345(b)(1) on service in an acting capacity by a person nominated by the President to fill the office on a permanent basis, requiring that a person who is nominated to fill a vacant office that is subject to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act may not perform the office’s functions and duties in an acting capacity unless the person served as first assistant to the vacant office for at least 90 days in the year preceding the vacancy, applies only to first assistants who take office under subsection (a)(1) of 5 U.S.C. 3345, or whether it also limits acting service by officials who assume acting responsibilities under subsections (a)(2) and (a)(3).
15-1248 McLane Co. v. EEOC (1) Whether a district court’s decision to quash or enforce an EEOC subpoena should be reviewed de novo, which only the Ninth Circuit does, or should be reviewed deferentially, which eight other circuits do, consistent with this Court’s precedents concerning the choice of standards of review; and (2) whether the Ninth Circuit’s decision to enforce an EEOC subpoena, depending upon a notion of relevance so broad that it effectively abrogates statutory limits on the EEOC‘s investigative powers, conflicts with EEOC v. Shell Oil and the holdings of at least three other circuits.
15-1242 Scout Petroleum, LLC v. Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC (1) Whether the decision below conflicts with decisions of other circuits which hold that arbitration agreements incorporating the American Arbitration Association rules generally and specifically delegate all issues of arbitrability to the arbitrator, including whether the arbitrator has the authority to decide if class arbitration is permitted; and (2) whether the decision below conflicts with Supreme Court precedent and other circuits’ application of the clear and unmistakable standard in construing the arbitration agreement in a manner which is consistent with other contracts under the Federal Arbitration Act and state law.
15-1239 Herson v. City of Richmond (1) Whether, when this Court grants, vacates, and remands (“GVR”s) a case back to a circuit court of the United States “for further consideration in light of” a recently decided opinion of this Court, the Court expects that adding an ipse dixit footnote to the original opinion is sufficient, or whether the circuit court must discuss how the law applies to the facts in light of the recently decided opinion of this Court; and (2) whether, when this Court GVRs a case back to a circuit court of the United States “for further consideration in light of” a recently decided opinion of this Court, the circuit court may deem the substantive issue to have been procedurally forfeited even though the substantive issue was raised below and the same procedural forfeiture arguments were unsuccessfully argued to this Court in opposition to the original petition for certiorari; (3) whether, where a municipal sign ordinance identified various categories of signs based on the type of information they convey, then subjected each category to different restrictions, exempted signs containing favored noncommercial subject-matter (including foreign and domestic governmental insignia, religious symbols, and civic, patriotic, and commemorative speech), and also favored commercial speech over noncommercial speech, abridged the First Amendment in light of this Court’s recent opinion in Reed v. Town of Gilbert.
15-1235 Funes v. Lynch Whether the “departure bar” regulations under 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(d) and § 1003.23(b) act as a restriction on the Immigration Court’s and the Board of Immigration Appeals’ jurisdiction to consider an untimely motion to reopen after an alien has departed the United States.
15-1232 Estrada-Martinez v. Lynch Whether the Attorney General’s decision that an alien’s crime is “particularly serious,” thus barring the alien from receiving withholding of removal, is a decision “specified” by Congress “to be in the discretion of the Attorney General,” and therefore not reviewable by federal courts.
15-1224 Perl v. Eden Place, LLC Whether, if a bankruptcy court finds that a party violated the automatic stay but reserves the question of damages for future determination, that order is final under 28 U.S.C. § 158 and therefore immediately appealable.
15-1218 Husqvarna Professional Products v. New Hampshire (1) Whether a court deciding a Contract Clause case may use “rational speculation” review to uphold retroactive application of a law substantially impairing private contracts based on legislative findings that are contradicted by undisputed evidence; (2) whether a court deciding an Equal Protection case may rely upon legislative findings to hold that a classification has a rational basis when the findings are contradicted by undisputed evidence, and (3) whether a statute requiring disputes between a manufacturer and its dealers to be submitted to a state administrative agency for adjudication violates the Supremacy Clause as to disputes subject to arbitration under the manufacturer’s dealer contracts.
15-1213 Deere & Co. v. New Hampshire Whether the Contract Clause prohibited the New Hampshire legislature from retroactively voiding petitioners’ private contracts, in the name of “leveling the playing field” between the parties to those contracts.
15-1209 Barr Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County Whether, when a state court lacks personal jurisdiction over many cases against a defendant, and the state court combines those cases with other cases into a coordination proceeding, the Due Process Clause prohibits the state from deeming the personal-jurisdiction defense waived merely because the defendant participates in the coordination proceeding, absent a knowing, voluntary, and intentional waiver of the defense.
15-1200 Schimel v. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (1) Whether a regulation of abortion doctors is subject to a facial challenge under Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Gonzales v. Carhart, when a majority of abortion doctors have already satisfied the requirement, and where the only doctors not already in compliance failed to make diligent efforts; and (2) whether a challenge to a regulation of abortion doctors under the Due Process Clause falls within the “very limited and well-defined class of cases,” City of Columbia v. Omni Outdoor Advertising, Inc., in which inquiry into the legislature’s subjective motives is permissible.
15-1199 Pfeil v. State Street Bank and Trust Co. (1) Whether this Court’s decision in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer affords fiduciaries for employee stock ownership plans (“ESOPs”) per se immunity from fiduciary liability whenever the underlying company stock investment in the ESOP trades in an “efficient market,” no matter how speculative the stock has become or how close the company is to filing bankruptcy; and (2) whether the Employee Retirement Income Securities Act’s duty of prudence requires a plan fiduciary simply to monitor plan investments, or whether it also has a substantive component that requires fiduciaries to remove investments from the plan that are objectively imprudent – i.e., investments that are too risky to hold in a plan based on objective characteristics.
15-1194 Packingham v. North Carolina Whether, under this Court’s First Amendment precedents, a law that makes it a felony for any person on the state's registry of former sex offenders to “access” a wide array of websites – including Facebook, YouTube, and nytimes.com – that enable communication, expression, and the exchange of information among their users, if the site is “know[n]” to allow minors to have accounts, is permissible, both on its face and as applied to petitioner – who was convicted based on a Facebook “post” in which he celebrated dismissal of a traffic ticket, declaring “God is Good!”
15-1192 U.S. v. Lost Tree Village Corp. (1) Whether, in determining the “parcel whole” for purposes of regulatory-takings analysis under the Just Compensation Clause, the court of appeals erred by severing regulated wetlands from unregulated, contiguous uplands under common ownership solely because respondent had no expectation of developing those wetlands at the time it developed the rest of the residential community; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in holding that the absence of reasonable, investment-backed expectations could not be considered in determining whether the denial of the permit resulted in a categorical regulatory taking of the residual wetlands tract under Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council.
15-1191 Lynch v. Morales-Santana (1) Whether Congress’s decision to impose a different physical-presence requirement on unwed citizen mothers of foreign-born children than on other citizen parents of foreign-born children through 8 U.S.C. 1401 and 1409 (1958) violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in conferring U.S. citizenship on respondent, in the absence of any express statutory authority to do so.
15-1190 Hebert v. U.S. (1) Whether petitioner’s 92-year sentence for nonviolent fraud offenses causing $16,000 in loss is unconstitutional, where, as the government and court of appeals each acknowledged below, the sentence would be substantively unreasonable, and therefore unlawful, but for the district judge’s contested murder finding; and (2) whether a criminal defendant’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to a jury place any constraints on an appellate court’s ability to use judicial-found facts as the basis to affirm the substantive reasonableness, and therefore the lawfulness, of the defendant’s sentence, a question this Court acknowledged but postponed answering in Rita v. United States.
15-1189 Impression Products v. Lexmark Int'l (1) Whether a “conditional sale” that transfers title to the patented item while specifying post-sale restrictions on the article's use or resale avoids application of the patent exhaustion doctrine and therefore permits the enforcement of such post-sale restrictions through the patent law’s infringement remedy; and (2) whether, in light of this Court’s holding in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. that the common law doctrine barring restraints on alienation that is the basis of exhaustion doctrine “makes no geographical distinctions,” a sale of a patented article – authorized by the U.S. patentee – that takes place outside of the United States exhausts the U.S. patent rights in that article.
15-1186 Rogers v. Chatman Whether petitioner was denied effective assistance of counsel where (1) the only issue at trial was whether petitioner is intellectually disabled; (2) petitioner’s IQ scores were within the range for intellectual disability with the Flynn effect, a well-established scientific principle demonstrating that aging norms cause IQ scores to rise for each year since the test was normed, but outside the range without it; and (3) petitioner’s counsel failed to explain the Flynn effect.
15-1185 California v. Pauma Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Pauma and Yuima Reservation Whether, under Edelman v. Jordan, the language of the limited waiver of state sovereign immunity – which expressly excludes claims for “monetary damages” and references only injunctive relief, specific performance, and declaratory relief – waived the state’s sovereign immunity with respect to the district court's monetary award.
15-1182 Sequenom v. Ariosa Diagnostics Whether a novel method is patent-eligible where: (1) a researcher is the first to discover a natural phenomenon; (2) that unique knowledge motivates him to apply a new combination of known techniques to that discovery; and (3) he thereby achieves a previously impossible result without preempting other uses of the discovery.
15-1177 Kergil v. U.S. Whether, in light of this Court’s decisions in McNally v. United States and Skilling v. United States, the Second Circuit’s recognition of an intangible “right to control property” is a cognizable property right under the federal mail and wire fraud statutes.
15-1174 Scarber v. Palmer Whether, under 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(2), the limitations period for filing a federal habeas petition challenging a state conviction is tolled for the time that the petitioner could seek further review in state court of the denial of an application for state post-conviction relief, regardless of whether the petitioner ultimately does so.
15-1167 O’Bannon v. NCAA (1) Whether, in determining an appropriate remedy for a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act under the “Rule of Reason,” a court may treat the restraint itself – here, the agreement among the NCAA and its members prohibiting college athlete compensation, or what the NCAA calls “amateurism” – as a legitimate procompetitive effect: and (2) whether, after finding a violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act under the Rule of Reason, a court is restricted to awarding relief that the plaintiff proves is “virtually as effective” as the restraint in serving its alleged purposes, “without significantly increased cost.”
15-1164 Cain v. Brumfield (1) Whether, in mental retardation evidentiary hearings, the federal district court committed clear error (a) in refusing to allow the state to introduce the trial court record, (b) in limiting the state’s presentation of evidence, (c) in failing to consider the facts of the crime as provided for in State v. Dunn III, (d) in failing to consider historical school records containing six mental health assessments/testing that did not diagnose mental retardation, and (e) in assessing credibility of witnesses; and (2) whether the federal appellate court erred in failing to conduct an independent review as to whether Brumfield proved by a preponderance of the evidence that he is mentally retarded based on the voluminous documentary evidence and the entirety of the record including the state court record.
15-1160 Dow Chemical Co. v. Nova Chemicals Corp. (Canada) Whether factual findings underlying a district court’s determination on the definiteness of a patent claim under the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. 112, like a district court’s factual findings underlying construction of a patent claim, are subject to appellate review only for clear error or substantial evidence rather than de novo review.
15-1152 Michigan v. EPA Whether, when an agency promulgates a rule without any statutory authority, a reviewing court may leave the unlawful rule in place.
15-1151 Fitch Ratings v. First Community Bank, N.A. Whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is violated when a court, in the absence of specific or general jurisdiction, nevertheless exercises personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant under a theory of “conspiracy jurisdiction.”
15-1144 Flowers v. Troup County School District Whether the standard of proof established by Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc. applies in a Title VII action.
15-1142 West Virginia Dep’t of Health and Human Resources v. E.H. (1) Whether a court may abdicate to a state executive agency its duty under the Supremacy Clause to determine whether state law has been preempted; and (2) whether the Privacy Rule, which forbids the disclosure of a patient’s records without patient authorization, preempts West Virginia state law, which requires the disclosure of patient records without patient authorization.
15-1140 Binday v. U.S. Whether a defendant may be convicted of federal criminal fraud when the purported victim has suffered no loss of tangible property, but has instead only been deprived of the intangible “right to control” with whom it does business.
15-1138 Bernardo v. Johnson Whether a decision by the Secretary of Homeland Security that there is “good and sufficient cause” to revoke the approval of a visa petition is subject to judicial review.
15-1134 Peake v. U.S. (1) Whether the First Circuit erred in determining that Puerto Rico is a state for purposes of the Sherman Act; and (2) whether the First Circuit erred in applying a “preponderates heavily against the verdict” standard rather than an “effect on the jury” standard in its harmless error analysis, thereby ignoring the prejudicial effect of the prosecution's repeated improper argument and questioning that followed the prosecution’s assurances to the trial court that such arguments would not be made.
15-1121 Neusoft Medical System Co., Ltd. v. NeuIsys, LLC Whether the North Carolina state courts improperly disregarded the Federal Arbitration Act and the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards by refusing to stay state court proceedings pending international arbitration in China of claims arising from a contract containing a valid arbitration clause.
15-1113 Moore v. Pederson Whether a right is clearly established in a case with a novel fact pattern when the right has been recognized at a level of specificity such that any further distinction lacks legal significance.
15-1112 Wells Fargo & Co. v. City of Miami (1) Whether the term “aggrieved” in the Fair Housing Act imposes a zone-of-interests requirement more stringent than the injury-in-fact requirement of Article III; and (2) whether the City is an “aggrieved person” under the Fair Housing Act.
15-1103 Scholz v. Delp Whether the First Amendment creates a categorical presumption that statements about a person's motive in committing suicide are matters of “opinion” rather than “fact” and thus cannot be the basis of a defamation action.
15-1101 Google v. Pulaski & Middleman, LLC (1) Whether individual damage calculations alone can overwhelm questions common to the class, precluding certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3); and (2) whether plaintiffs may use a formula that relies on a uniform measure of harm derived from the average experience of all class members as common proof of damages.
15-1088 Republic of Ecuador v. Chevron Corp. Whether the D.C. Circuit erred in holding that there is Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) jurisdiction over this suit to confirm an arbitral award, upon concluding that: (1) federal courts may not independently determine whether there is an agreement to arbitrate, but rather must defer to foreign arbitrators on this core FSIA jurisdictional fact; and (2) the party invoking federal court jurisdiction bears only a burden of production as to the facts supporting jurisdiction, while the foreign state bears the ultimate burden of persuasion as to the absence of those facts.
15-1086 H. v. California (1) Whether a ten-year-old child in a custodial interrogation can give a voluntary, knowing and intelligent waiver of his rights against self-incrimination and to legal counsel in a criminal case, without further constitutional protections such as mandatory access to legal counsel or an unconflicted adult guardian; (2) whether the presence of petitioner’s conflicted stepmother during his interrogation tainted his purported waiver; and (3) whether petitioner voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently waived his rights under the circumstances.
15-1085 WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp. (1) Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that damages based on a patentee’s so-called “foreign lost profits” are categorically unavailable in cases of patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f); and (2) whether the Court should hold this petition for Halo and Stryker.
15-1084 Daniels v. U.S. Whether a district court may bar a criminal defendant from attending his own trial without finding that his conduct threatens the court's ability to conduct the trial.
15-1081 Target Corp. v. Guvenoz Whether the decision of the Illinois Appellate Court, which permits personal-injury plaintiffs in Illinois to proceed with the very “stop-selling” theory of liability this Court rejected as “incompatible with our pre-emption jurisprudence” in Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Bartlett, should be summarily reversed.
15-1078 GlaxoSmithKline LLC v. Allied Services Division Welfare Fund (1) Whether a third-party payor (TPP) states a plausible RICO injury by alleging that a manufacturer’s failure to disclose risk information inflated the price of a medication; (2a) whether the independent decisions of prescribing doctors break the causal chain under RICO where a TPP alleges that it paid more because a manufacturer’s misrepresentations caused doctors to write more prescriptions for a medication; and (2b) whether a TPP must allege specific facts tying an alleged fraud to its own decision to cover a drug under its prescription plan in order to properly plead factual causation.
15-1064 Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Stranburg Whether, when a utility provider exercises a state-law right to expressly pass on a utility tax to a federally recognized Indian tribe for utility services delivered to the tribe’s reservations and the tribe is therefore legally obligated to pay the tax, the tax is an impermissible direct tax on the tribe.
15-1063 Texas v. Villarreal Whether a warrantless blood draw conducted pursuant to the implied consent / mandatory draw provisions in the Texas Transportation Code from an individual arrested for his third DWI, violates the Fourth Amendment.
15-1054 Scott v. McDonald Whether it was error, and contrary to Sims v. Apfel, for the Federal Circuit to allow the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to refuse to address a veteran’s argument that he was improperly deprived of a hearing during the adjudication of his benefits claim solely because the veteran did not expressly name that precise issue in non-adversarial proceedings before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
15-1052 Hexom v. Minnesota Whether the State may evade the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement by coercing submission to chemical testing by promising criminal prosecution for refusal, and then deeming that coerced submission to be the legal equivalent of free and voluntary consent to search.
15-1021 Sunrise Children’s Services v. Glisson (1) Whether Flast v. Cohen should be overruled; and (2) whether Flast should be expanded to state taxpayers.
15-961 Visa v. Osborn Whether allegations that members of a business association agreed to adhere to the association’s rules and possess governance rights in the association, without more, are sufficient to plead the element of conspiracy in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, as the court of appeals held below, or are insufficient, as the Third, Fourth, and Ninth Circuits have held.
15-955 Cooper v. Lee Whether 35 U.S.C. § 318(b) violates Article III of the United States Constitution, to the extent that it empowers an executive agency tribunal to assert judicial power canceling private property rights amongst private parties embroiled in a private federal dispute of a type known in the common law courts of 1789, rather than merely issue an advisory opinion as an adjunct to a trial court.
15-927 SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC Whether and to what extent the defense of laches may bar a claim for patent infringement brought within the Patent Act’s six-year statutory limitations period, 35 U.S.C. § 286.
15-866 Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands What is the appropriate test to determine when a feature of a useful article is protectable under section 101 of the Copyright Act.
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.
15-683 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.
15-680 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.
15-558 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.
15-363 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)
15-830 Belize v. Belize Social Development Ltd. (1) Whether, under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, as applied to the New York Convention by Article III, a foreign forum is per se inadequate because specific assets in the United States cannot be attached by a foreign court, as the D.C. Circuit has held, or whether it is adequate if it has jurisdiction and some attachable assets, as the Second Circuit held; and (2) whether, under Article V(2)(b) of the New York Convention, the public policy in favor of arbitration yields where confirmation of an arbitral award would be contrary to countervailing public policies, such as those grounded in constitutional separation of powers principles, combating government corruption and/or international comity.
15-698 Helmerich & Payne Int'l v. Venezuela (1) Whether, under the third clause of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, a breach-of-contract action is “based … upon” any act necessary to establish an element of the claim, including acts of contract formation or performance, or solely those acts that breached the contract; and (2) whether, under Republic of Argentina v. Weltover, a breaching party’s failure to make contractually required payments in the United States causes a “direct effect” in the United States triggering the commercial activity exception where the parties’ expectations and course of dealing have established the United States as the place of payment, or only where payment in the United States is unconditionally required by contract.
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.
15-610 Midland Funding, LLC v. Madden Whether the National Bank Act, which preempts state usury laws regulating the interest a national bank may charge on a loan, continues to have preemptive effect after the national bank has sold or otherwise assigned the loan to another entity.
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. CVSG: 04/14/2016.
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.
15-486 Ivy v. Morath Whether the Fifth Circuit erred in deciding that the relationship between public and private actors does not invoke dual obligations to accommodate disabilities in any context other than an express contractual relationship between a public entity and its private vendor.
15-423 Venezuela v. Helmerich & Payne Int'l (1) Whether, for purposes of determining if a plaintiff has pleaded that a foreign state has taken property “in violation of international law,” the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) recognizes a discrimination exception to the domestic-takings rule, which holds that a foreign sovereign’s taking of the property of its own national is not a violation of international law; (2) whether, for purposes of determining if a plaintiff has pleaded that “rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue,” the FSIA allows a shareholder to claim property rights in the assets of a still-existing corporation; and (3) whether the pleading standard for alleging that a case falls within the FSIA’s expropriation exception is more demanding than the standard for pleading jurisdiction under the federal-question statute, which allows a jurisdictional dismissal only if the federal claim is wholly insubstantial and frivolous.
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. CVSG: 03/01/2016.
14-1538 Life Technologies Corporation v. Promega Corporation (1) Whether the Federal Circuit erred in holding that a single entity can "actively induce" itself to infringe a patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f)(1), and (2) whether the Federal Circuit erred in holding that supplying a single, commodity component of a multi-component invention from the United States is an infringing act under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f)(1), exposing the manufacturer to liability for all worldwide sales.
14-1206 Odhiambo v. Republic of Kenya (1) Whether the courts, perpetuating a four-decade decisional gap over the heart of the Foreign Services Immunities Act, may decline jurisdiction without actually deciding that given by Congress, despite its purpose to provide court access and their unflagging obligation to exercise jurisdiction given, and (2) whether the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, under any construction, confers jurisdiction over a foreign state that directs its contract party and obligations to the United States, and carries on a six-year course of dealing, causing financial loss here, which the dissent below "readily" found created a "genuine nexus."
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.
14-1055 Lightfoot v. Cendant Mortgage Corporation (1) Whether the phrase "to sue and be sued, and to complain and to defend, in any court of competent jurisdiction, State or Federal" in Fannie Mae's charter confers original jurisdiction over every case brought by or against Fannie Mae to the federal courts; and (2) whether the Court's decision in American National Red Cross v. S.G. should be reversed.

Petitions Held for Another Conference

N/A

Term Snapshot
Awards