Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

At 9:30 a.m. on Monday we expect additional orders from the Court's November 25 Conference. On Tuesday, December 2, we expect one or more opinions in argued cases; we will begin live blogging at this link shortly before 10:00 a.m.

October Term 2013

View this list sorted by case name.

October Sitting

Proskauer Rose LLP v. Troice, No. 12-88 [Arg: 10.7.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.26.2014]

Holding: The Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1988 does not preclude the plaintiffs' state-law class actions contending that the defendants assisted in perpetrating a Ponzi scheme by falsely representing that uncovered securities that plaintiffs were purchasing were backed by covered securities.
Chadbourne & Parke LLP v. Troice, No. 12-79 [Arg: 10.7.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.26.2014]

Holding: The Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1988 does not preclude the plaintiffs' state-law class actions contending that the defendants assisted in perpetrating a Ponzi scheme by falsely representing that uncovered securities that plaintiffs were purchasing were backed by covered securities.
Willis of Colorado Inc. v. Troice, No. 12-86 [Arg: 10.7.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.26.2014]

Holding: The Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1988 does not preclude the plaintiffs' state-law class actions contending that the defendants assisted in perpetrating a Ponzi scheme by falsely representing that uncovered securities that plaintiffs were purchasing were backed by covered securities.
Madigan v. Levin, No. 12-872 [Arg: 10.7.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 10.15.2013]

Holding: Whether the Seventh Circuit erred in holding, in an acknowledged departure from the rule in at least four other circuits, that state and local government employees may avoid the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act’s comprehensive remedial regime by bringing age discrimination claims directly under the Equal Protection Clause and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Burt v. Titlow, No. 12-414 [Arg: 10.8.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 11.5.2013]

Holding: The Sixth Circuit failed to apply the "doubly deferential" standard of review recognized by the Court's case law when it refused to credit the state court's reasonable factual finding and assumed that counsel was ineffective where the record was silent.
McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536 [Arg: 10.8.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.02.2014]

Holding: Because aggregate limits restricting how much money a donor may contribute to candidates for federal office, political parties, and political action committees do not further the government’s interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption or the appearance of such corruption, while at the same time seriously restricting participation in the democratic process, they are invalid under the First Amendment.
Atlantic Marine Construction Co. v. U.S. District Court, No. 12-929 [Arg: 10.9.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.3.2013]

Holding: A forum-selection clause may be enforced by a motion to transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), which provides that, “[f]or the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or division to which all parties have consented.”
U.S. v. Woods, No. 12-562 [Arg: 10.9.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.3.2013]

Holding: The district court had jurisdiction to determine whether the partnerships’ lack of economic substance could justify imposing a valuation-misstatement penalty on the partners.
Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, No. 12-682 [Arg: 10.15.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.22.2014]

Holding: An amendment to Michigan’s constitution that prohibits state universities from considering race as part of its admissions process does not violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
Daimler AG v. Bauman, No. 11-965 [Arg: 10.15.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.14.2014]

Holding: Daimler cannot be sued in California for injuries allegedly caused by conduct of its Argentinian subsidiary when that conduct took place entirely outside of the United States.
Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co., No. 12-729 [Arg: 10.15.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.16.2013]

Holding: Absent a controlling statute to the contrary, a participant in an employee benefit plan covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the plan may agree by contract to a particular limita­tions period, even one that starts to run before the cause of action accrues, as long as the period is reasonable.
Kaley v. U.S., No. 12-464 [Arg: 10.16.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.25.2014]

Holding: When challenging the legality of a pre-trial asset seizure under 21 U.S.C. § 853(e)(1), a criminal defendant who has been indicted is not constitutionally entitled to contest a grand jury’s determination of probable cause to believe that he committed the crimes charged.
Kansas v. Cheever, No. 12-609 [Arg: 10.16.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.11.2013]

Holding: When a defense expert who has examined the defendant testifies that the defendant lacked the requisite mental state to commit a crime, the prosecution may offer evidence from a court-ordered psychological examination for the limited purpose of rebutting the defendant's evidence.

November Sitting

Sandifer v. U.S. Steel Corporation, No. 12-417 [Arg: 11.4.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.27.2014]

Holding: The time petitioners spend donning and doffing their protective gear is not compensable by operation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U. S. C. § 203(o).
Walden v. Fiore, No. 12-574 [Arg: 11.4.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.25.2014]

Holding: When the conduct of the defendant, a Georgia police officer, occurred entirely in Georgia, the mere fact that his conduct affected plaintiffs with connections to Nevada does not authorize jurisdiction over him in Nevada.
Medtronic v. Mirowski Family Ventures, LLC, No. 12-1128 [Arg: 11.05.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.22.2014]

Holding: When a licensee seeks a declaratory judgment against a patentee to establish that its products do not infringe the licensed patent, the patentee bears the burden of persuasion on the issue of infringement.
Bond v. U.S., No. 12-158 [Arg: 11.5.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.2.14]

Holding: Section 229 of the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1998, which criminalizes, among other things, the possession or use of “chemical weapons," does not reach Bond’s conviction for simple assault, arising from her efforts to poison her husband’s mistress by spreading chemicals on (among other things) her doorknob, causing only a minor burn that was easily treated with water.
Sprint Communications Company v. Jacobs, No. 12-815 [Arg: 11.5.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.10.2013]

Holding: Sprint’s lawsuit against members of the Iowa Utilities Board, seeking a declaration that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 preempted a decision by the IUB holding that intrastate fees applied to long-distance Voice over Internet Protocol calls, does not fall within any of the three classes of exceptional cases for which Younger abstention is appropriate; federal court abstention is not in order simply because a pending state-court proceeding involves the same subject matter.
Mississippi ex rel. Hood v. AU Optronics Corp., No. 12-1036 [Arg: 11.6.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.14.2014]

Holding: Under the Class Action Fairness Act, because Mississippi is the only named plaintiff, the suit does not qualify as a "mass actions" – that is, a civil action "in which monetary relief claims of 100 or more persons are proposed to be tried jointly on the ground that the plaintiff's claims involve common questions of law or fact."
Town of Greece v. Galloway, No. 12-696 [Arg: 11.6.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 05.05.2014]

Holding: The town's practice of opening its town board meetings with a prayer offered by members of the clergy does not violate the Establishment Clause when the practice is consistent with the tradition long followed by Congress and state legislatures, the town does not discriminate against minority faiths in determining who may offer a prayer, and the prayer does not coerce participation with non-adherents.
Lawson v. FMR LLC, No. 12-3 [Arg: 11.12.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.04.2014]

Holding: The anti-retaliation protection that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 provides to whistleblowers applies to employees of a public company's private contractors and subcontractors.
Burrage v. U.S., No. 12-7515 [Arg: 11.12.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.27.2014]

Holding: At least when the use of a drug distributed by the defendant is not an independently sufficient cause of the victim's death or serious bodily injury, a defendant cannot be liable for penalty enhancement under the penalty enhancement provision of the Controlled Substance Act unless such use is a but-for cause of the death or injury.
Rosemond v. U.S., No. 12-895 [Arg: 11.12.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.05.2014]

Holding: For purposes of “aiding and abetting” liability under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which prohibits “us[ing] or carr[ying] a firearm “during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime,” the government must show that the defendant actively participated in the underlying drug trafficking or violent crime with advance knowledge that a confederate would use or carry a gun during the crime’s commission. The Court vacated the decision below and remanded the case because the trial court failed to instruct the jury that the defendant must have “advance knowledge” – that is, knowledge sufficiently in advance to have some “realistic opportunity to quit the crime” – that the gun would be used or carried.
Fernandez v. California, No. 12-7822 [Arg: 11.13.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.25.2014]

Holding: The Court’s decision in Georgia v. Randolph, holding that the consent of one occupant is insufficient to authorize police to search a premises if another occupant is present and objects to the search, does not apply when an occupant provides consent well after the objecting occupant has been removed from the premises.
Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall, No. 12-99 [Arg: 11.13.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.10.2013]

Holding: Whether an employer and union may violate Section 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186, by entering into an agreement under which the employer exercises its freedom of speech by promising to remain neutral to union organizing, its property rights by granting union representatives limited access to the employer’s property and employees, and its freedom of contract by obtaining the union’s promise to forego its rights to picket, boycott, or otherwise put pressure on the employer’s business.

December Sitting

Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, No. 12-515 [Arg: 12.2.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 05.27.2014]

Holding: Michigan's suit against the Bay Mills Indian Community to enjoin the tribe from operating a gaming facility on non-Indian lands is barred by tribal sovereign immunity.
BG Group PLC v. Republic of Argentina, No. 12-138 [Arg: 12.2.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.05.2014]

Holding: When reviewing an arbitration award made under an international treaty, U.S. courts should interpret and apply "threshold" provisions concerning arbitration using the framework developed for interpreting similar provisions in ordinary contracts. Under that framework, the local litigation requirement is a matter for arbitrators primarily to interpret and apply, and courts should review their interpretation with deference.
Northwest v. Ginsberg, No. 12-462 [Arg: 12.3.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.02.2014]

Holding: The Airline Deregulation Act preempts a state-law claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing if it seeks to enlarge the contractual obligation that the parties voluntarily adopt.
Lexmark Int'l v. Static Control Components, No. 12-873 [Arg: 12.3.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.25.2014]

Holding: Static Control has adequately pleaded the elements of a Lanham Act cause of action for false advertising: an injury to a commercial interest in sales or business reputation proximately caused by the defendant’s misrepresentation.
U.S. v. Apel, No. 12-1038 [Arg: 12.4.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.26.2014]

Holding: For purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 1382, which makes it a crime to re-enter a “military installation” after having been ordered not to do so, a portion of an Air Force base that contains a designated protest area and an easement for a public road qualifies as a “military installation.”
Air Wisconsin Airlines Corp. v. Hoeper, No. 12-315 [Arg: 12.9.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.27.2014]

Holding: Under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, airlines and their employees are immune from civil liability for reporting suspicious behavior, but – pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 44941(b) – that immunity is not available for disclosures “made with actual knowledge that the disclosure was false, inaccurate, or misleading” or “with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity of that disclosure.” Immunity under the ATSA may not be denied under Section 44941(b) without a determination that a disclosure was materially false. applies to materially true statements.
Ray Haluch Gravel Co. v. Central Pension Fund, No. 12-992 [Arg: 12.9.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.15.2014]

Holding: A decision on the merits is a "final decision" even if the award or amount of attorney's fees remains to be determined.
American Lung Association v. EME Homer City Generation, No. 12-1183 [Arg: 12.10.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.29.2014]

Holding: The Clean Air Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for pollutants at levels that will protect public health. Once EPA settles on a NAAQS, the Agency must designate "nonattainment" areas, i.e., locations where the concentration of a regulated pollutant exceeds the NAAQS, and each state must submit a State Implementation Plan, or SIP, to EPA within three years of any new or revised NAAQS. From the date EPA determines that a State SIP is inadequate, EPA has two years to promulgate a Federal Implementation Plan, or FIP. Among other things, the CAA mandates SIP compliance with the Good Neighbor Provision, which requires SIPs to "contain adequate provisions . . . prohibiting . . . any source or other type of emissions activity within the State from emitting any air pollutant in amounts which will . . . contribute significantly to nonattainment in, or interfere with maintenance by, any other State with respect to any” NAAQS. The CAA does not require that states be given a second opportunity to file a SIP after EPA has quantified the state's interstate pollution obligations. Nor does the Good Neighbor Provision require EPA to disregard costs and consider exclusively each upwind state's physically proportionate responsibility for each downwind air quality problem. EPA's cost-effective allocation of emission reductions among upwind states is a permissible, workable, and equitable interpretation of the Good Neighbor Provision.
Environmental Protection Agency v. EME Homer City Generation, No. 12-1182 [Arg: 12.10.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.29.2014]

Holding: The Clean Air Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for pollutants at levels that will protect public health. Once EPA settles on a NAAQS, the Agency must designate "nonattainment" areas, i.e., locations where the concentration of a regulated pollutant exceeds the NAAQS, and each state must submit a State Implementation Plan, or SIP, to EPA within three years of any new or revised NAAQS. From the date EPA determines that a State SIP is inadequate, EPA has two years to promulgate a Federal Implementation Plan, or FIP. Among other things, the CAA mandates SIP compliance with the Good Neighbor Provision, which requires SIPs to "contain adequate provisions . . . prohibiting . . . any source or other type of emissions activity within the State from emitting any air pollutant in amounts which will . . . contribute significantly to nonattainment in, or interfere with maintenance by, any other State with respect to any” NAAQS. The CAA does not require that states be given a second opportunity to file a SIP after EPA has quantified the state's interstate pollution obligations. Nor does the Good Neighbor Provision require EPA to disregard costs and consider exclusively each upwind state's physically proportionate responsibility for each downwind air quality problem. EPA's cost-effective allocation of emission reductions among upwind states is a permissible, workable, and equitable interpretation of the Good Neighbor Provision.
Scialabba v. Cuellar de Osorio, No. 12-930 [Arg: 12.10.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.9.2014]

Holding: The Board of Immigration Appeals has interpreted the Child Status Protection Act as providing a remedy only to “aged-out” non-citizens – that is, those who turned twenty-one while their visa application is pending – who qualified or could have qualified as principal beneficiaries of a visa petition, rather than only as derivative beneficiaries piggy-backing on a parent. That is a permissible construction of the statute.
White v. Woodall, No. 12-794 [Arg: 12.11.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.23.2014]

Holding: Because the Kentucky Supreme Court’s rejection of respondent’s Fifth Amendment claim was not objectively unreasonable, the Sixth Circuit erred in granting the writ of habeas.
Lozano v. Alvarez, No. 12-820 [Arg: 12.11.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.05.2014]

Holding: The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction creates a near-automatic return remedy for children who have been abducted to another country. To invoke that return remedy, the parent seeking the child’s return must file a petition seeking the return within one year of the child’s abduction. After one year has passed, the Convention still directs the court to order the child’s return, “unless it is demonstrated that the child is settled in its new environment.” The Court holds that the one-year period may not be equitably tolled, even if the abducting parent has concealed the child’s whereabouts until after the one-year period has passed.

January Sitting

Law v. Siegel, No. 12-5196 [Arg: 1.13.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.04.2014]

Holding: The bankruptcy court exceeded its authority when it ordered that a debtor’s exempt assets be used to pay administrative expenses incurred as a result of the debtor’s misconduct.
National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, No. 12-1281 [Arg: 1.13.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.26.2014]

Holding: The Recess Appointments Clause authorizes the president to fill any existing vacancy during any recess – whether occurring during or between sessions of Congress – of sufficient length. However, for purposes of the clause, the Senate is in session whenever it indicates that it is, as long as – under its own rules – it retains the capacity to transact Senate business.
Executive Benefits Insurance Agency v. Arkison, No. 12-1200 [Arg: 1.14.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.9.2014]

Holding: When, under the reasoning of Stern v. Marshall, the Constitution does not permit a bankruptcy court to enter final judgment on a bankruptcy-related claim, the relevant statute nevertheless permits a bankruptcy court to issue proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law to be reviewed de novo by the district court.
Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. U.S., No. 12-1173 [Arg: 1.14.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.10.2014]

Holding: When a railroad abandons the right of way granted under the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875, the private party who acquired the land underlying the right of way obtains full rights over the right of way, which was an easement terminated by the railroad’s abandonment.
U.S. v. Quality Stores, No. 12-1408 [Arg: 1.14.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.25.2014]

Holding: Severance payments to employees who are involuntarily terminated issue are taxable wages for purposes of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.
U.S. v. Castleman, No. 12-1371 [Arg: 1.15.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.26.2014]

Holding: Castleman's state conviction for misdemeanor domestic assault qualifies as a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" for purposes of possessing a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9).
McCullen v. Coakley, No. 12-1168 [Arg: 1.15.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.26.2014]

Holding: A Massachusetts law which makes it a crime to stand on a public road or sidewalk within thirty-five feet of a reproductive health care facility violates the First Amendment.
Harris v. Quinn, No. 11-681 [Arg: 1.21.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.30.2014]

Holding: The First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from the plaintiffs in this case, home health care providers who do not wish to join or support a union.
Navarette v. California, No. 12-9490 [Arg: 1.21.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.22.2014]

Holding: Under the totality of the circumstances, the traffic stop precipitated by an anonymous but reliable tip to 911 complied with the Fourth Amendment because the officer had reasonable suspicion that the truck’s driver was intoxicated.
Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, No. 12-1315 [Arg: 1.21.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 05.19.2014]

Holding: In a case by the owner of a screenplay alleging copyright infringement, the doctrine of laches cannot be invoked as a bar to the pursuit of a claim for damages brought within the three-year window established by Section 507(b) of the Copyright Act. However, in extraordinary circumstances, laches may, at the very outset of the litigation, curtail the relief equitably awarded.
Abramski v. U.S., No. 12-1493 [Arg: 1.22.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.16.2014]

Holding: Regardless whether the actual buyer could have purchased the gun, a person who buys a gun on someone else’s behalf while falsely claiming that it is for himself makes a material misrepresentation punishable under 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6), which prohibits knowingly making false statements “with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of a sale of a gun.”
Paroline v. U.S., No. 12-8561 [Arg: 1.22.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.23.2014]

Holding: Restitution to the respondent, who was sexually abused as a young girl to produce child pornography, is proper under 18 U.S.C. § 2259 only to the extent the defendant, who pleaded guilty to possessing images of child porn, including two images of the respondent, was the proximate cause of the victim's losses. Victims should be compensated and defendants should be held accountable for the impact of their conduct on those victims, but defendants should only be made liable for the consequences and gravity of their own conduct, not the conduct of others.

February Sitting

Texas v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-1269 [Arg: 2.24.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2014]

Holding: The Clean Air Act neither compels nor permits the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt an interpretation of theClean Air Act requiring a stationary source of pollution to obtain a "Prevention of Significant Deterioration" or Title V permit on the sole basis of its potential greenhouse-gas emission. However, EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to require sources that would need permits based on their emission of chemical pollutants to comply with “best available control technology” for greenhouse gases.
Southeastern Legal Foundation v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-1268 [Arg: 2.24.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2014]

Holding: The Clean Air Act neither compels nor permits the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt an interpretation of theClean Air Act requiring a stationary source of pollution to obtain a "Prevention of Significant Deterioration" or Title V permit on the sole basis of its potential greenhouse-gas emission. However, EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to require sources that would need permits based on their emission of chemical pollutants to comply with “best available control technology” for greenhouse gases.
Energy-Intensive Manufacturers Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Regulation v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-1254 [Arg: 2.24.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2014]

Holding: The Clean Air Act neither compels nor permits the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt an interpretation of theClean Air Act requiring a stationary source of pollution to obtain a "Prevention of Significant Deterioration" or Title V permit on the sole basis of its potential greenhouse-gas emission. However, EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to require sources that would need permits based on their emission of chemical pollutants to comply with “best available control technology” for greenhouse gases.
Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-1272 [Arg: 2.24.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2014]

Holding: The Clean Air Act neither compels nor permits the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt an interpretation of theClean Air Act requiring a stationary source of pollution to obtain a "Prevention of Significant Deterioration" or Title V permit on the sole basis of its potential greenhouse-gas emission. However, EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to require sources that would need permits based on their emission of chemical pollutants to comply with “best available control technology” for greenhouse gases.
Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-1146 [Arg: 2.24.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.14]

Holding: The Clean Air Act neither compels nor permits the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt an interpretation of the Clean Air Act requiring a stationary source of pollution to obtain a "Prevention of Significant Deterioration" or Title V permit on the sole basis of its potential greenhouse-gas emission. However, EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to require sources that would need permits based on their emission of conventional pollutants to comply with “best available control technology” for greenhouse gases.
American Chemistry Council v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 12-1248 [Arg: 2.24.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2014]

Holding: The Clean Air Act neither compels nor permits the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt an interpretation of theClean Air Act requiring a stationary source of pollution to obtain a "Prevention of Significant Deterioration" or Title V permit on the sole basis of its potential greenhouse-gas emission. However, EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to require sources that would need permits based on their emission of chemical pollutants to comply with “best available control technology” for greenhouse gases.
Robers v. U.S., No. 12-9012 [Arg: 2.25.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 05.05.2014]

Holding: A provision of the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 requires property crime offenders to pay “an amount equal to . . . the value of the property” minus “the value (as of the date the property is returned) of any part of the property that is returned.” In that provision, the phrase “any part of the property” refers to the property that was lost as a result of the crime – in this case, involving a fraudulent loan application, the money lent by the bank. The property is not “returned” until it is sold and the victim receives money from the sale. Here, that means that a sentencing court should reduce the amount of restitution by the amount of money the bank received when it sold the houses that were collateral for the fraudulent loans, rather than by the (greater) value of the houses when the bank foreclosed on them.
Highmark Inc. v. Allcare Health Management Systems, No. 12-1163 [Arg: 2.26.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.29.2014]

Holding: All aspects of a district court's exceptional-case determination under 35 U.S.C. § 285, which allows an award of attorney’s fees to the prevailing party in patent litigation in “exceptional cases,” should be reviewed for abuse of discretion.
Octane Fitness v. Icon Health and Fitness, No. 12-1184 [Arg: 2.26.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.29.2014]

Holding: Section 285 of the Patent Act authorizes a district court to award attorney's fees in patent litigation in "exceptional cases" – that is, cases which stand out from the others with respect to the substantive strength of a party’s litigating position or the unreasonable manner in which the case was litigated. District courts should determine whether a case is exceptional “in the case-by-case exercise of their discretion, considering the totality of the circumstances.” The Federal Circuit’s Brooks Furniture Mfg. v. Dutailier framework, pursuant to which a case is “exceptional” only if the district court finds either litigation-related misconduct of an independently sanctionable magnitude or determines that the litigation was both “brought in subjective bad faith” and “objectively baseless,” superimposes an inflexible framework onto statutory text that is inherently flexible.
Hall v. Florida, No. 12-10882 [Arg: 3.3.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 05.27.2014]

Holding: Florida's threshold requirement, as interpreted by the Florida Supreme Court, that defendants show an IQ test score of 70 or below before being permitted to submit additional intellectual disability evidence is unconstitutional because it creates an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disabilities will be executed.
Plumhoff v. Rickard, No. 12-1117 [Arg: 3.4.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 05.27.2014]

Holding: The use of deadly force by police officers in this case – firing multiple rounds into a car during a high-speed chase, contributing to the death of the driver and a passenger – was not unreasonable given the threat to public safety posed by the driver's reckless behavior. As such, the officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment. But in any event, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because they did not violate any clearly established law.
Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund, No. 13-317 [Arg: 3.5.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.14]

Holding: Investors can recover damages in a private securities fraud action only if they prove that they relied on the defendant's misrepresentation in deciding to buy or sell a company's stock. In Basic Inc. v. Levinson, the Supreme Court held that investors could satisfy this reliance requirement by invoking a presumption that the price of stock traded in an efficient market reflects all public, material information-including material misstatements. Halliburton has failed to provide the “special justification” necessary to overrule that presumption. However, even if plaintiffs do not need to directly prove that the misrepresentation affected the stock price to invoke the Basic presumption, defendants can defeat the presumption at the class certification stage through evidence that the misrepresentation did not in fact affect the stock price.

March Sitting

Clark v. Rameker, No. 13-299 [Arg: 3.24.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.12.2014]

Holding: Funds held in inherited Individual Retirement Accounts are not "retirement funds" within the meaning of 11 U.S.C. §522(b)(3)(c) and therefore not exempt from the bankruptcy estate.
Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell, No. 13-356 [Arg: 3.25.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.30.14]

Holding: Whether the religious owners of a family business, or their closely held, for-profit corporation, have free exercise rights that are violated by the application of the contraceptive-coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, No. 13-354 [Arg: 3.25.2014 Trans.; Decided 06.30.2014]

Holding: As applied to closely held corporations, the regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services requiring employers to provide their female employees with no-cost access to contraception violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Wood v. Moss, No. 13-115 [Arg: 3.26.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 05.27.2014]

Holding: Two Secret Service agents who ordered that individuals protesting the policies of President George W. Bush be moved away from the outdoor area at which the president was eating, placing them further away from the president than the president’s supporters, are entitled to qualified immunity from the protesters’ lawsuit alleging viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment when there was a legitimate security rationale for the removal of the protesters.
Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int'l, No. 13-298 [Arg: 3.31.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.19.2014]

Holding: Because Alice Corporation's patent claims involving (1) a method for exchanging financial obligations, (2) a computer system as a third-party intermediary, and (3) a computer-readable medium containing program code for performing the method of exchanging obligations are drawn to a patent-ineligible abstract idea under 35 U.S.C. § 101, they are not patent eligible under Section 101.
Loughrin v. U.S., No. 13-316 [Arg: 4.1.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.14]

Holding: A conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 1344(2), which makes it a crime to "knowing execut[e] a scheme … to obtain " property owned by, or under the custody of, a bank "by means of false or fraudulent pretenses," does not require the government to prove that a defendant intended to defraud a financial institution.
Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, No. 12-751 [Arg: 4.2.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.25.2014]

Holding: When a decision by a fiduciary of an “employee stock ownership plan” (ESOP) to buy or hold the employer’s stock is challenged in court, the fiduciary is not entitled to a “presumption of prudence.” Instead, ESOP fiduciaries are subject to the same duty of prudence that applies to Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciaries in general, except that they need not diversify the fund's assets.

April Sitting

Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital, No. 12-842 [Arg: 4.21.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.16.14]

Holding: The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 does not provide a foreign-sovereign judgment debtor with immunity from post-judgment discovery of information concerning its extraterritorial assets.
POM Wonderful LLC v. The Coca Cola Company, No. 12-761 [Arg: 4.21.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.12.2014]

Holding: Competitors may bring Lanham Act claims alleging unfair competition from false or misleading product descriptions on food and beverage labels regulated by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, No. 13-461 [Arg: 4.22.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.25.2014]

Holding: Aereo publicly performs copyrighted works, in violation of the Copyright Act’s Transmit Clause, when it sells its subscribers a technologically complex service that allows them to watch television programs over the Internet at about the same time as the programs are broadcast over the air.
Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, No. 13-193 [Arg: 4.22.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.16.2014]

Holding: A preenforcement challenge to an Ohio statute that prohibits certain “false statements” during a political campaign is justiciable, and the challengers have alleged a sufficiently imminent injury for purposes of Article III, when they have pleaded specific statements that they intend to make in future election cycles that are arguably proscribed by the Ohio law and there is a history of past enforcement of the law insofar as one challenger was the subject of a complaint in a recent election cycle.
U.S. v. Clarke, No. 13-301 [Arg: 4.23.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.19.2014]

Holding: A taxpayer who wants to question Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents about their motives for issuing a summons may do so if he can point to “specific facts or circumstances plausibly raising an inference of bad faith.”
CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, No. 13-339 [Arg: 4.23.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.9.2014]

Holding: North Carolina’s statute of repose is not preempted by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), which instead only preempts state statutes of limitations on bringing state-law environmental tort cases.
Lane v. Franks, No. 13-483 [Arg: 4.28.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.19.2014]

Holding: Testimony in a criminal prosecution by a government employee about fraud in the program where he works is protected by the First Amendment; however, the supervisor who fired him in retaliation for that testimony has qualified immunity from suit because it was not "beyond debate" that the employee’s testimony was protected.
Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments, No. 13-369 [Arg: 4.28.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.2.14]

Holding: A patent is invalid for indefiniteness if its claims, read in light of the patent’s specification and prosecution history, fail to inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention.
U.S. v. Wurie, No. 13-212 [Arg: 4.29.2014 Trans.; Decided 06.25.2014]

Holding: The police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cellphone seized from an individual who has been arrested.
Riley v. California, No. 13-132 [Arg: 4.29.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.25.2014]

Holding: The police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cellphone seized from an individual who has been arrested.
Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies, No. 12-786 [Arg: 4.30.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.02.14]

Holding: A defendant is not liable for inducing infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) when no one has directly infringed until Section 217(a)o or any other statutory provision.

Decided without oral argument

Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, No. 11-1507 [ Decided 11.13.2013]

Holding: Whether disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act.
U.S. Forest Service v. Pacific Rivers Council, No. 12-623 [ Decided 6.17.2013]

Holding: (1) Whether respondent Pacific Rivers Council (PRC) has Article III standing to challenge the Forest Service’s 2004 programmatic amendments to the forest plans governing management of 11 Sierra Nevada Forests when PRC failed to establish that any of its members was imminently threatened with cognizable harm because he or she would come into contact with any parcel of forest affected by the amendments; (2) whether PRC’s challenge to the Forest Service’s programmatic amendments is ripe when PRC failed to identify any site-specific project authorized under the amended plan provisions to which PRC objects; and (3) whether the National Environmental Policy Act required the Forest Service, when adopting the programmatic amendments, to analyze every type of environmental effect that any project ultimately authorized under the amendments throughout the 11 affected forests might have if it was reasonably possible to do so when the programmatic amendments were adopted, even though any future site-specific project would require its own appropriate environmental analysis before going forward.
Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, No. 12-1094 [ Decided 11.4.2013]

Holding: Whether the Oklahoma Supreme Court erred in holding – without analysis or discussion – that the Oklahoma law requiring that abortion-inducing drugs be administered according to the protocol described on the drugs’ FDA-approved labels is facially unconstitutional under Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Pursuant to the Revised Uniform Certification of Questions of Law Act, Okla. Stat., Tit. 20, §1601 et seq. (West 2002), respectfully certifies to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma the following question: Whether H.B. No. 1970, Section 1, Chapter 216, O.S.L. 2011 prohibits: (1) the use of misoprostol to induce abortions, including the use of misoprostol in conjunction with mifepristone according to a protocol approved by the Food and Drug Administration; and (2) the use of methotrexate to treat ectopic pregnancies. Further proceedings in this case are reserved pending receipt of a response from the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
UBS v. Union de Empleados, No. 12-1208

Issue(s): Whether, consistent with the standard of review employed by other Circuit Courts of Appeals, but in direct conflict with the decision below, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit should have reviewed for abuse of discretion the District Court’s determination, pursuant to Rule 23.1, that the particularized facts alleged in a shareholder derivative complaint were insufficient to excuse a pre-suit demand on the corporation's board of directors.
Stanton v. Sims, No. 12-1217 [ Decided 11.04.2013]

Holding: Reversed and remanded
Ford Motor Company v. U.S., No. 13-113 [ Decided 12.2.2013]

Holding: When, if ever, may a court exercising jurisdiction pursuant to a waiver of sovereign immunity invoke the strict construction canon applicable to such waivers to construe a separate statutory provision that creates the substantive rights at issue.
Tolan v. Cotton, No. 13-551 [ Decided 5.5.2014]

Holding: Because the Fifth Circuit failed to adhere to the fundamental principle that, at the summary judgment stage, reasonable inferences should be drawn in favor of the non-moving party, the decision below is vacated and remanded so that the Fifth Circuit can determine whether, when the evidence offered by the petitioner -- who was shot by the respondent, a police officer -- is properly credited and factual inferences are reasonably drawn in his favor, the police officer’s actions violated clearly established law.
Hinton v. Alabama, No. 13-6440 [ Decided 2.24.2014]

Holding: The failure of the lawyer for a defendant in a capital murder trial to seek additional funds to hire, as a replacement for an expert whom he knew to be inadequate, an expert to rebut the core of the prosecution's case was unreasonable, and therefore constitutionally deficient, when that failure was based not on any strategic decision, but rather on a mistaken belief that available funding was capped at $1,000. The Court therefore summarily vacated the judgment below and remanded the case for reconsideration of whether the attorney's deficient performance was prejudicial.
Term Snapshot
Awards