October Term 2014

View this list sorted by case name.

October Sitting

Heien v. North Carolina, No. 13-604 [Arg: 10.6.2014 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether a police officer’s mistake of law can provide the individualized suspicion that the Fourth Amendment requires to justify a traffic stop.
Holt v. Hobbs, No. 13-6827 [Arg: 10.7.2014 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether the Arkansas Department of Corrections grooming policy violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, 42 U. S. C. § 2000cc et seq., to the extent that it prohibits petitioner from growing a one-half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs.
Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Company, LLC v. Owens, No. 13-719 [Arg: 10.7.2014 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether a defendant seeking removal to federal court is required to include evidence supporting federal jurisdiction in the notice of removal, or whether it is enough to allege the required “short and plain statement of the grounds for removal.”
Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, No. 13-433 [Arg: 10.8.2014 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether time spent in security screenings is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act.
Warger v. Shauers, No. 13-517 [Arg: 10.8.2014 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) permits a party moving for a new trial based on juror dishonesty during voir dire to introduce juror testimony about statements made during deliberations that tend to show the alleged dishonesty.
North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, No. 13-534 [Arg: 10.14.2014 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether, for purposes of the state-action exemption from federal antitrust law, an official state regulatory board created by state law may properly be treated as a “private” actor simply because, pursuant to state law, a majority of the board’s members are also market participants who are elected to their official positions by other market participants.
Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado, No. 126 Original [Arg: 10.14.2014 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether Nebraska violated a compact apportioning the waters of the Republican River between Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado; if so, what relief is appropriate to remedy the violation.
Teva Pharmaceuticals USA v. Sandoz, No. 13-854 [Arg: 10.15.2014 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether a district court’s factual finding in support of its construction of a patent claim term may be reviewed de novo, as the Federal Circuit requires (and as the panel explicitly did in this case), or only for clear error, as Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a) requires.
Jennings v. Stephens, No. 13-7211 [Arg: 10.15.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether the Fifth Circuit erred in holding that a federal habeas petitioner who prevailed in the district court on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim must file a separate notice of appeal and motion for a certificate of appealability to raise an allegation of deficient performance that the district court rejected even though the Fifth Circuit acquired jurisdiction over the entire claim as a result of the respondent’s appeal.

November Sitting

Zivotofsky v. Kerry, No. 13-628 [Arg: 11.3.2014]

Issue(s): Whether a federal statute that directs the Secretary of State, on request, to record the birthplace of an American citizen born in Jerusalem as born in "Israel" on a Consular Report of Birth Abroad and on a United States passport is unconstitutional on the ground that the statute "impermissibly infringes on the President's exercise of the recognition power reposing exclusively in him."
Omnicare v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund, No. 13-435 [Arg: 11.3.2014]

Issue(s): Whether, for purposes of a claim under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. § 77k, a plaintiff may plead that a statement of opinion was “untrue” merely by alleging that the opinion itself was objectively wrong, as the Sixth Circuit has concluded, or must the plaintiff also allege that the statement was subjectively false – requiring allegations that the speaker’s actual opinion was different from the one expressed – as the Second, Third, and Ninth Circuits have held.
Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean, No. 13-894 [Arg: 11.4.2014]

Issue(s): Whether certain statutory protections codified at 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8)(A), which are inapplicable when an employee makes a disclosure “specifically prohibited by law,” can bar an agency from taking an enforcement action against an employee who intentionally discloses Sensitive Security Information.
Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, No. 13-684 [Arg: 11.4.2014]

Issue(s): Whether a borrower exercises his right to rescind a transaction in satisfaction of the requirements of the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1635, by “notifying the creditor” in writing within three years of the consummation of the transaction, as the Third, Fourth, and Eleventh Circuits have held, or must instead file a lawsuit within three years of the consummation of the transaction, as the First, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits have held.
Yates v. U.S., No. 13-7451 [Arg: 11.5.2014]

Issue(s): Whether Mr. Yates was deprived of fair notice that destruction of fish would fall within the purview of 18 U.S.C. § 1519, which makes it a crime for anyone who “knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object” with the intent to impede or obstruct an investigation, where the term “tangible object” is ambiguous and undefined in the statute, and unlike the nouns accompanying “tangible object” in section 1519, possesses no record-keeping, documentary, or informational content or purpose.
Johnson v. U.S., No. 13-7120 [Arg: 11.5.2014]

Issue(s): Whether mere possession of a short-barreled shotgun should be treated as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act.
M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, No. 13-1010 [Arg: 11.10.2014]

Issue(s): Whether, when construing collective bargaining agreements in Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) cases, courts should presume that silence concerning the duration of retiree health-care benefits means the parties intended those benefits to vest (and therefore continue indefinitely), as the Sixth Circuit holds; or should require a clear statement that health-care benefits are intended to survive the termination of the collective bargaining agreement, as the Third Circuit holds; or should require at least some language in the agreement that can reasonably support an interpretation that health-care benefits should continue indefinitely, as the Second and Seventh Circuits hold.
T-Mobile South, LLC v. City of Roswell, No. 13-975 [Arg: 11.10.2014]

Issue(s): Whether a document from a state or local government stating that an application has been denied, but providing no reasons whatsoever for the denial, can satisfy the Communications Act’s “in writing” requirement.
Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama, No. 13-1138 [Arg: 11.12.2014]

Issue(s): Whether Alabama’s effort to redraw the lines of each majority-black district to have the same black population as it would have using 2010 census data as applied to the former district lines, when combined with the state's new goal of significantly reducing population deviation among districts, amounted to an unconstitutional racial quota and racial gerrymandering that is subject to strict scrutiny and that was not justified by the putative interest of complying with the non-retrogression aspect of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act; and whether these plaintiffs have standing to bring such a constitutional claim.
Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, No. 13-895 [Arg: 11.12.2014]

Issue(s): Whether Alabama's legislative redistricting plans unconstitutionally classify black voters by race by intentionally packing them in districts designed to maintain supermajority percentages produced when 2010 census data are applied to the 2001 majority-black districts.
Comptroller v. Wynne, No. 13-485 [Arg: 11.12.2014]

Issue(s): Whether the United States Constitution prohibits a state from taxing all the income of its residents -- wherever earned -- by mandating a credit for taxes paid on income earned in other states.

December Sitting

Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association, No. 13-1041 [Arg: 12.1.2014]

Issue(s): Whether a federal agency must engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act before it can significantly alter an interpretive rule that articulates an interpretation of an agency regulation.
Elonis v. U.S., No. 13-983 [Arg: 12.1.2014]

Issue(s): (1) Whether, consistent with the First Amendment and Virginia v. Black, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten, as required by the Ninth Circuit and the supreme courts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont; or whether it is enough to show that a “reasonable person” would regard the statement as threatening, as held by other federal courts of appeals and state courts of last resort; and (2) whether, as a matter of statutory interpretation, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten.
Whitfield v. U.S., No. 13-9026 [Arg: 12.2.2014]

Issue(s): Whether 18 U.S.C. § 2113(e), which provides a minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for a bank robber who forces another person “to accompany him” during the robbery or while in flight, requires proof of more than a de minimis movement of the victim.
B&B Hardware v. Hargis Industries, No. 13-352 [Arg: 12.2.2014]

Issue(s): (1) Whether the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s finding of a likelihood of confusion precludes respondent from relitigating that issue in infringement litigation, in which likelihood of confusion is an element; and (2) whether, if issue preclusion does not apply, the district court was obliged to defer to the Board’s finding of a likelihood of confusion absent strong evidence to rebut it. CVSG: 01/13/2014.
Hana Financial v. Hana Bank, No. 13-1211 [Arg: 12.3.2014]

Issue(s): Whether the jury or the court determines whether use of an older trademark may be tacked to a newer one.
Young v. United Parcel Service, No. 12-1226 [Arg: 12.3.2014]

Issue(s): Whether, and in what circumstances, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k), requires an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations to provide work accommodations to pregnant employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.” CVSG: 10/07/2013.
Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl, No. 13-1032 [Arg: 12.8.2014]

Issue(s): Whether the Tax Injunction Act, which provides that “[t]he district courts shall not enjoin, suspend or restrain the assessment, levy or collection of any tax under State law where a plain, speedy and efficient remedy may be had in the courts of such State,” bars federal court jurisdiction over a suit brought by non-taxpayers to enjoin the informational notice and reporting requirements of a state law that neither imposes a tax, nor requires the collection of a tax, but serves only as a secondary aspect of state tax administration.
Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads, No. 13-1080 [Arg: 12.8.2014]

Issue(s): Whether Section 207 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which requires the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Amtrak to “jointly . . . develop” the metrics and standards for Amtrak’s performance that will be used in part to determine whether the Surface Transportation Board (STB) will investigate a freight railroad for failing to provide the preference for Amtrak’s passenger trains that is required by federal law, and provides for the STB to appoint an arbitrator if the FRA and Amtrak cannot agree on the metrics and standards within 180 days, effects an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to a private entity.
Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation, No. 13-553 [Arg: 12.9.2014]

Issue(s): (1) Whether a state “discriminates against a rail carrier” in violation of 49 U.S.C. § 11501(b)(4) when the state generally requires commercial and industrial businesses, including rail carriers, to pay a sales-and-use tax but grants exemptions from the tax to the railroads’ competitors; and (2) whether, in resolving a claim of unlawful tax discrimination under 49 U.S.C. § 11501(b)(4), a court should consider other aspects of the state's tax scheme rather than focusing solely on the challenged tax provision. CVSG: 05/27/2014.
Gelboim v. Bank of America Corporation, No. 13-1174 [Arg: 12.9.2014]

Issue(s): Whether and in what circumstances the dismissal of an action that has been consolidated with other suits is immediately appealable.
U.S. v. Wong, No. 13-1074 [Arg: 12.10.2014]

Issue(s): Whether the six-month time bar for filing suit in federal court under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b), is subject to equitable tolling.
U.S. v. June, No. 13-1075 [Arg: 12.10.2014]

Issue(s): Whether the two-year time limit for filing an administrative claim with the appropriate federal agency under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b), is subject to equitable tolling.

Cases Not (Yet) Set for Argument

Kellogg Brown & Root Services v. U.S. ex rel. Carter, No. 12-1497

Issue(s): (1) Whether the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act – a criminal code provision that tolls the statute of limitations for “any offense” involving fraud against the government “[w]hen the United States is at war,” 18 U.S.C. § 3287, and which this Court has instructed must be “narrowly construed” in favor of repose – applies to claims of civil fraud brought by private relators, and is triggered without a formal declaration of war, in a manner that leads to indefinite tolling; and (2) whether, contrary to the conclusion of numerous courts, the False Claims Act’s so-called “first-to-file” bar, 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(5) – which creates a race to the courthouse to reward relators who promptly disclose fraud against the government, while prohibiting repetitive, parasitic claims – functions as a “onecase- at-a-time” rule allowing an infinite series of duplicative claims so long as no prior claim is pending at the time of filing. CVSG: 10/07/2013.
Oneok Inc. v. Learjet, No. 13-271

Issue(s): Whether the Natural Gas Act, which occupies the field as to matters within its scope, preempts state-law claims challenging industry practices that directly affect the wholesale natural gas market when those claims are asserted by litigants who purchased gas in retail transactions. CVSG: 12/02/2013.
Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, No. 13-502

Issue(s): Whether the Town of Gilbert's mere assertion that its sign code lacks a discriminatory motive renders its facially content-based sign code content-neutral and justifies the code's differential treatment of petitioners' religious signs.
Tibble v. Edison Int'l, No. 13-550

Issue(s): Whether a claim that ERISA plan fiduciaries breached their duty of prudence by offering higher-cost retail-class mutual funds to plan participants, even though identical lower-cost institution-class mutual funds were available, is barred by 29 U.S.C. § 1113(1) when fiduciaries initially chose the higher-cost mutual funds as plan investments more than six years before the claim was filed.
Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi v. IndyMac MBS, No. 13-640 [ Decided 9.29.2014]

Holding: Dismissed as improvidently granted.
Wellness Int'l Network, Limited v. Sharif, No. 13-935

Issue(s): (1) Whether the presence of a subsidiary state property law issue in a 11 U.S.C. § 541 action brought against a debtor to determine whether property in the debtor’s possession is property of the bankruptcy estate means that such action does not “stem[] from the bankruptcy itself” and therefore, that a bankruptcy court does not have the constitutional authority to enter a final order deciding that action; and (2) whether Article III permits the exercise of the judicial power of the United States by the bankruptcy courts on the basis of litigant consent, and if so, whether implied consent based on a litigant’s conduct is sufficient to satisfy Article III.
Mach Mining v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 13-1019

Issue(s): Whether and to what extent a court may enforce the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's mandatory duty to conciliate discrimination claims before filing suit.
Mellouli v. Holder, No. 13-1034

Issue(s): Whether, to trigger deportability under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(B)(i), which provides that a noncitizen may be removed if he has been convicted of violating “any law or regulation of a State, the United States, or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance (as defined in section 802 of Title 21) . . . ,” the government must prove the connection between a drug paraphernalia conviction and a substance listed in section 802 of the Controlled Substances Act.
Nickols v. Mortgage Bankers Association, No. 13-1052

Issue(s): Whether agencies subject to the Administrative Procedure Act are categorically prohibited from revising their interpretative rules unless such revisions are made through notice-and-comment rulemaking.
City of Los Angeles v. Patel, No. 13-1175

Issue(s): (1) Whether facial challenges to ordinances and statutes are permitted under the Fourth Amendment; and (2) whether a hotel has an expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment in a hotel guest registry where the guest-supplied information is mandated by law and an ordinance authorizes the police to inspect the registry, and if so, whether the ordinance is facially unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment unless it expressly provides for pre-compliance judicial review before the police can inspect the registry.
Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, No. 13-1314

Issue(s): (1) Whether the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution and 2 U. S. C. § 2a(c) permit Arizona’s use of a commission to adopt congressional districts; and (2) whether the Arizona Legislature has standing to bring this suit.
Coleman-Bey v. Tollefson, No. 13-1333

Issue(s): Whether, under the “three strikes” provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), a district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit counts as a “strike” while it is still pending on appeal or before the time for seeking appellate review has passed.
Ohio v. Clark, No. 13-1352

Issue(s): (1) Whether an individual's obligation to report suspected child abuse makes that individual an agent of law enforcement for purposes of the Confrontation Clause; and (2) whether a child's out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher's concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause.
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, No. 13-1371

Issue(s): Whether disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act.
Kerry v. Din, No. 13-1402

Issue(s): (1) Whether a consular officer’s refusal of a visa to a U.S. citizen’s alien spouse impinges upon a constitutionally protected interest of the citizen; and (2) whether respondent is entitled to challenge in court the refusal of a visa to her husband and to require the government, in order to sustain the refusal, to identify a specific statutory provision rendering him inadmissible and to allege what it believes he did that would render him ineligible for a visa.
Chappell v. Ayala, No. 13-1428

Issue(s): Whether a state court's rejection of a claim of federal constitutional error on the ground that any error, if one occurred, was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt is an “adjudicat[ion] on the merits” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), so that a federal court may set aside the resulting final state conviction only if the defendant can satisfy the restrictive standards imposed by that provision; and (2) whether the court of appeals properly applied the standard articulated in Brecht v. Abrahamson.
Henderson v. U.S., No. 13-1487

Issue(s): Whether a felony conviction, which makes it unlawful for the defendant to possess a firearm, prevents a court under Rule 41(g) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure or under general equity principles from ordering that the government (1) transfer non-contraband firearms to an unrelated third party to whom the defendant has sold all his property interests; or (2) sell the firearms for the benefit of the defendant.
Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, No. 13-1499

Issue(s): Whether a rule of judicial conduct that prohibits candidates for judicial office from personally soliciting campaign funds violates the First Amendment.
Volkman v. U.S., No. 13-8827 [ Decided 10.20.2014]

Holding: Whether refusal of jury instructions including language indicating that, in order to obtain a conviction for prescribing medication for no legitimate medical purpose and outside of the course of professional responsibility, a jury must find that the prescribing physician used his prescription writing powers as a means to engage in illicit drug dealing and trafficking as conventionally understood, was error given this Court's precedent indicating that in order to obtain a conviction under the Controlled Substances Act, the government must show that a physician conducted himself in a manner consistent with a large-scale drug pusher.
Rodriguez v. U.S., No. 13-9972

Issue(s): Whether an officer may extend an already completed traffic stop for a canine sniff without reasonable suspicion or other lawful justification.
Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, No. 14-15

Issue(s): Whether the Supremacy Clause gives Medicaid providers a private right of action to enforce 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(30)(A) against a state where Congress chose not to create enforceable rights under that statute.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, No. 14-86

Issue(s): Whether an employer can be liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for refusing to hire an applicant or discharging an employee based on a “religious observance and practice” only if the employer has actual knowledge that a religious accommodation was required and the employer's actual knowledge resulted from direct, explicit notice from the applicant or employee.
Baker Botts, L.L.P. v. ASARCO, L.L.C., No. 14-103

Issue(s): Whether Section 330(a) of the Bankruptcy Code grants bankruptcy judges discretion to award compensation for the defense of a fee application.
Term Snapshot
Awards