Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

On Tuesday at 10 a.m. we expect one or more opinions in argued cases; we will be live-blogging at this link at approximately 9:45.

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.; Decided 12.15.2014]

Holding: A police officer’s reasonable mistake of law gives rise to reasonable suspicion that justifies a traffic stop under the Fourth Amendment.
Holt v. Hobbs, No. 13-6827 [Arg: 10.7.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.20.2015]

Holding: An Arkansas prison policy that prevents a Muslim prisoner from growing a half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Company, LLC v. Owens, No. 13-719 [Arg: 10.7.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.15.2014]

Holding: A defendant’s notice of removal of a case from state to federal court need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold; it does not need to contain evidentiary submissions.
Warger v. Shauers, No. 13-517 [Arg: 10.8.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.8.2014]

Holding: Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b), which provides that certain juror testimony about events in the jury room is not admissible “during an inquiry into the validity of a verdict,” precludes a party seeking a new trial from using one juror’s affidavit of what another juror said in deliberations to demonstrate the other juror’s dishonesty during voir dire.
Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, No. 13-433 [Arg: 10.8.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.8.2014]

Holding: The time spent by warehouse workers waiting to undergo and undergoing security screenings is not compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act.
North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, No. 13-534 [Arg: 10.14.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.25.2015]

Holding: 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.; Decided 02.24.2015]

Holding: 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.; Decided 01.20.2015]

Holding: When reviewing a district court’s resolution of subsidiary factual matters made in the course of its construction of a patent claim, the Federal Circuit must apply a “clear error,” not a de novo, standard of review.
Jennings v. Stephens, No. 13-7211 [Arg: 10.15.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.14.2015]

Holding: A prisoner who sought federal habeas relief based on three theories of ineffective assistance of counsel and prevailed in the district court on two of them is not required to file a cross-appeal or seek a certificate of appealability on the third theory to rely on it as part of his defense against the state’s appeal.

November Sitting

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

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 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.24.2015]

Holding: 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 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.21.2015]

Holding: A federal air marshal who publicly disclosed that the TSA had decided to cut costs by removing air marshals from certain long-distance flights is entitled to protection under the federal whistleblower statute because his disclosure does not fall within the statute’s exception for disclosures “specifically prohibited by law.” Although the disclosure was specifically prohibited by a TSA regulation, the exception does not apply to rules and regulations, nor was it specifically prohibited by the statute that authorized the TSA to promulgate those regulations.
Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, No. 13-684 [Arg: 11.4.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.13.2015]

Holding: A borrower exercising his right to rescind under the Truth in Lending Act need only provide written notice to his lender within the three-year period; the statute does not require him to file suit within that period.
Yates v. U.S., No. 13-7451 [Arg: 11.5.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.25.2015]

Holding: 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.
M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, No. 13-1010 [Arg: 11.10.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.26.2015]

Holding: To determine whether retiree health-care benefits survive the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement, courts should apply ordinary contract principles. Those principles do not include the Sixth Circuit’s inference that parties to collective bargaining would intend retiree benefits to vest for life.
T-Mobile South, LLC v. City of Roswell, No. 13-975 [Arg: 11.10.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.14.2015]

Holding: 47 U.S.C. § 332(c)(7)(B)(iii), which provides that a locality’s denial of an application to build a cell phone tower “shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record,” requires localities to provide the reasons for such denials in writing. However, those reasons do not have to appear in the written denial letter as long as they appear in some other written record, are sufficiently clear, and are provided or made accessible to the applicant essentially contemporaneously with the written denial notice.
Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama, No. 13-1138 [Arg: 11.12.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.25.2015]

Holding: 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 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.25.2015]

Holding: 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 Trans./Aud.]

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 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.09.2015]

Holding: The D.C. Circuit’s Paralyzed Veterans doctrine, which requires agencies to use the notice-and-comment process before it can significantly revise an interpretive rule, is contrary to the clear text of the Administrative Procedure Act’s rulemaking provisions and improperly imposes on agencies an obligation beyond the Act’s maximum procedural requirements.
Elonis v. U.S., No. 13-983 [Arg: 12.1.2014 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Nickols v. Mortgage Bankers Association, No. 13-1052 [Arg: 12.1.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.9.2015]

Holding: The D.C. Circuit’s Paralyzed Veterans doctrine, which requires agencies to use the notice-and-comment process before it can significantly revise an interpretive rule, is contrary to the clear text of the Administrative Procedure Act’s rulemaking provisions and improperly imposes on agencies an obligation beyond the Act’s maximum procedural requirements.
Whitfield v. U.S., No. 13-9026 [Arg: 12.2.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.13.2015]

Holding: A bank robber “forces [a] person to accompany him,” for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(e), when he forces that person to go somewhere with him, even if the movement occurs entirely within a single building or over a short distance.
B&B Hardware v. Hargis Industries, No. 13-352 [Arg: 12.2.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.24.2015]

Holding: (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 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.21.2015]

Holding: The jury, rather than a court, determines whether the use of an older trademark may be tacked to a newer one.
Young v. United Parcel Service, No. 12-1226 [Arg: 12.3.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.25.2015]

Holding: 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 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.03.2015]

Holding: 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 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.09.2015]

Holding: For purposes of the validity of the “metrics and standards,” formulated together with the Federal Railroad Association, addressing the performance and scheduling of passenger railroad services, including Amtrak’s on-time performance and train delays caused by host railroads, Amtrak is a governmental entity.
Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation, No. 13-553 [Arg: 12.9.2014 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.04.2015]

Holding: (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 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.21.2015]

Holding: When a district court dismisses the only claim in a case that has been consolidated with other actions for pretrial proceedings in multidistrict litigation, the district court’s order is a final and appealable order, even if claims remained in other actions included in the MDL.
U.S. v. Wong, No. 13-1074 [Arg: 12.10.2014 Trans./Aud.]

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 Trans./Aud.]

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.

January Sitting

Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, No. 13-502 [Arg: 1.12.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Oneok Inc. v. Learjet, No. 13-271 [Arg: 1.12.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Kellogg Brown & Root Services v. U.S. ex rel. Carter, No. 12-1497 [Arg: 1.13.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Mach Mining v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 13-1019 [Arg: 1.13.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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 [Arg: 1.14.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Wellness Int'l Network, Limited v. Sharif, No. 13-935 [Arg: 1.14.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, No. 13-1499 [Arg: 1.20.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether a rule of judicial conduct that prohibits candidates for judicial office from personally soliciting campaign funds violates the First Amendment.
Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, No. 14-15 [Arg: 1.20.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, No. 13-1371 [Arg: 1.21.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act.
Rodriguez v. U.S., No. 13-9972 [Arg: 1.21.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether an officer may extend an already completed traffic stop for a canine sniff without reasonable suspicion or other lawful justification.

February Sitting

Coleman-Bey v. Tollefson, No. 13-1333 [Arg: 2.23.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Kerry v. Din, No. 13-1402 [Arg: 2.23.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Henderson v. U.S., No. 13-1487 [Arg: 2.24.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Tibble v. Edison Int'l, No. 13-550 [Arg: 2.24.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, No. 14-86 [Arg: 2.25.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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 [Arg: 2.25.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether Section 330(a) of the Bankruptcy Code grants bankruptcy judges discretion to award compensation for the defense of a fee application.
Ohio v. Clark, No. 13-1352 [Arg: 3.2.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, No. 13-1314 [Arg: 3.2.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
City of Los Angeles v. Patel, No. 13-1175 [Arg: 3.3.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
Davis v. Ayala, No. 13-1428 [Arg: 3.3.2015 Trans./Aud.]

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.
King v. Burwell, No. 14-114 [Arg: 3.4.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether the Internal Revenue Service may permissibly promulgate regulations to extend tax-credit subsidies to coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government under Section 1321 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

March Sitting

City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan, No. 13-1412 [Arg: 3.23.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): (1) Whether Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires law enforcement officers to provide accommodations to an armed, violent, and mentally ill suspect in the course of bringing the suspect into custody; and (2) whether it was clearly established that even where an exception to the warrant requirement applied, an entry into a residence could be unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment by reason of the anticipated resistance of an armed and violent suspect within. (Breyer, J., recused.)
Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, No. 14-144 [Arg: 3.23.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): (1) Whether the messages and images that appear on state-issued specialty license plates qualify as government speech immune from any requirement of viewpoint neutrality; and (2) whether Texas engaged in “viewpoint discrimination” by rejecting the license-plate design proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, when Texas has not issued any license plate that portrays the confederacy or the confederate battle flag in a negative or critical light.
Bank of America, N.A. v. Toledo-Cardona, No. 14-163 [Arg: 3.24.2015]

Issue(s): Whether, under Section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code, which provides that “[t]o the extent that a lien secures a claim against the debtor that is not an allowed secured claim, such lien is void,” a Chapter 7 debtor may “strip off” a junior mortgage lien in its entirety when the outstanding debt owed to a senior lienholder exceeds the current value of the collateral.
Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett, No. 13-1421 [Arg: 3.24.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether, under Section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code, which provides that “[t]o the extent that a lien secures a claim against the debtor that is not an allowed secured claim, such lien is void,” a Chapter 7 debtor may “strip off” a junior mortgage lien in its entirety when the outstanding debt owed to a senior lienholder exceeds the current value of the collateral.
Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-47 [Arg: 3.25.2015 Trans.]

Issue(s): Whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.
Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-46 [Arg: 3.25.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.
National Mining Association v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-49 [Arg: 3.25.2015 Trans.]

Issue(s): Whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.
Brumfield v. Cain, No. 13-1433 [Arg: 3.30.2015 Trans.]

Issue(s): (1) Whether a state court that considers the evidence presented at a petitioner’s penalty phase proceeding as determinative of the petitioner’s claim of mental retardation under Atkins v. Virginia has based its decision on an unreasonable determination of facts under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2); and (2) whether a state court that denies funding to an indigent petitioner who has no other means of obtaining evidence of his mental retardation has denied petitioner his “opportunity to be heard,” contrary to Atkins and Ford v. Wainwright and his constitutional right to be provided with the “basic tools” for an adequate defense, contrary to Ake v. Oklahoma.
Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises, No. 13-720 [Arg: 3.31.2015]

Issue(s): Whether this Court should overrule Brulotte v. Thys Co., which held that “a patentee’s use of a royalty agreement that projects beyond the expiration date of the patent is unlawful per se.” CVSG: 10/30/2014.
Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, No. 13-896 [Arg: 3.31.2015]

Issue(s): Whether the Federal Circuit erred in holding that a defendant's belief that a patent is invalid is a defense to induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b). CVSG: 10/16/2014. (Breyer, J., recused.)
Bullard v. Hyde Park Savings Bank, No. 14-116 [Arg: 4.1.2015]

Issue(s): Whether an order denying confirmation of a bankruptcy plan is appealable.
Harris v. Viegelahn, No. 14-400 [Arg: 4.1.2015]

Issue(s): Whether, when a debtor in good faith converts a bankruptcy case to Chapter 7 after confirmation of a Chapter 13 plan, undistributed funds held by the Chapter 13 trustee are refunded to the debtor (as the Third Circuit held in In re Michael), or distributed to creditors (as the Fifth Circuit held below).

April Sitting

Johnson v. U.S., No. 13-7120 [Arg: 4.20.2015 Trans./Aud.]

Issue(s): Whether mere possession of a short-barreled shotgun should be treated as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act.
McFadden v. U.S., No. 14-378 [Arg: 4.21.2015]

Issue(s): Whether, to convict a defendant of distribution of a controlled substance analogue – a substance with a chemical structure that is “substantially similar" to a schedule I or II drug and has a “substantially similar” effect on the user (or is believed or represented by the defendant to have such a similar effect) – the government must prove that the defendant knew that the substance constituted a controlled substance analogue, as held by the Second, Seventh, and Eighth Circuits, but rejected by the Fourth and Fifth Circuits.
Horne v. Department of Agriculture, No. 14-275 [Arg: 4.22.2015]

Issue(s): (1) Whether the government's “categorical duty” under the Fifth Amendment to pay just compensation when it “physically takes possession of an interest in property,” Arkansas Game & Fish Comm'n v. United States, applies only to real property and not to personal property; (2) whether the government may avoid the categorical duty to pay just compensation for a physical taking of property by reserving to the property owner a contingent interest in a portion of the value of the property, set at the government's discretion; and (3) whether a governmental mandate to relinquish specific, identifiable property as a “condition” on permission to engage in commerce effects a per se taking.
Kingsley v. Hendrickson, No. 14-6368 [Arg: 4.27.2015]

Issue(s): Whether the requirements of a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force claim brought by a plaintiff who was a pretrial detainee at the time of the incident are satisfied by a showing that the state actor deliberately used force against the pretrial detainee and the use of force was objectively unreasonable.
DeBoer v. Snyder, No. 14-571 [Arg: 4.28.2015]

Issue(s): 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
Tanco v. Haslam, No. 14-562 [Arg: 4.28.2015]

Issue(s): 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14-556 [Arg: 4.28.2015]

Issue(s): 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
Bourke v. Beshear, No. 14-574 [Arg: 4.28.2015]

Issue(s): 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
Glossip v. Gross, No. 14-7955 [Arg: 4.29.2015]

Issue(s): (1) Whether it is constitutionally permissible for a state to carry out an execution using a three-drug protocol where (a) there is a well-established scientific consensus that the first drug has no pain relieving properties and cannot reliably produce deep, coma-like unconsciousness, and (b) it is undisputed that there is a substantial, constitutionally unacceptable risk of pain and suffering from the administration of the second and third drugs when a prisoner is conscious; (2) whether the plurality stay standard of Baze v. Rees applies when states are not using a protocol substantially similar to the one that this Court considered in Baze; and (3) whether a prisoner must establish the availability of an alternative drug formula even if the state’s lethal-injection protocol, as properly administered, will violate the Eighth Amendment.
Mata v. Holder, No. 14-185 [Arg: 4.29.2015]

Issue(s): Whether the Fifth Circuit erred in this case in holding that it has no jurisdiction to review petitioner's request that the Board of Immigration Appeals equitably toll the ninety-day deadline on his motion to reopen as a result of ineffective assistance of counsel under 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(c)(2).

Decided without oral argument

Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi v. IndyMac MBS, No. 13-640 [ Decided 9.29.2014]

Holding: Dismissed as improvidently granted.
Lopez v. Smith, No. 13-946 [ Decided 10.6.2014]

Holding: Because the Supreme Court’s caselaw does not clearly establish that a prosecutor’s focus on one theory of liability can render earlier notice of another theory of liability inadequate, the decision of the court of appeals granting habeas relief is reversed.
Johnson v. City of Shelby, No. 13-1318 [ Decided 11.10.2014]

Holding: The court of appeals erred in entering summary judgment against the petitioners, police officers who filed a lawsuit against the city where they worked, for failure to invoke 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in their complaint. Federal pleading rules do not countenance the dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim. And in particular, no heightened pleading rule requires plaintiffs seeking damages for violations of constitutional rights to invoke § 1983 expressly in order to state a claim.
Freidus v. ING Groep N.V., No. 13-1505 [ Decided 3.30.2015]

Holding: Whether, for purposes of a claim under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, a plaintiff must plead that a statement of opinion not only contains false statements of material facts or omits material facts required to make the statements in the registration statement not misleading, but also that the speaker actually knew that the statements were false or misleading, even though the Court has held, in Ernst & Ernst v. Hochfelder, that under § 11 “the issuer of the securities is held absolutely liable,” without regard to fault.
Volkman v. U.S., No. 13-8827 [ Decided 10.20.2014]

Holding: Granted, vacated and remanded in light of Burrage v. United States.
Chen v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, Maryland, No. 13-10400 [ Decided 1.9.2015]

Holding: Whether, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m), a district court has discretion to extend the time for service of process absent a showing of good cause, as the Second, Third, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits have held, or whether the district court lacks such discretion, as the Fourth Circuit has held.
Glebe v. Frost, No. 14-95 [ Decided 11.17.2014]

Holding: Even if, at Frost’s robbery trial, the state trial court violated the Constitution when it held that state law prohibited Frost from simultaneously contesting his liability and arguing duress during closing arguments, it was not clearly established that such a mistake constitutes a structural error requiring the automatic reversal of Frost’s conviction.
Carroll v. Carman, No. 14-212 [ Decided 11.10.2014]

Holding: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit erred when it concluded that a police officer is not entitled to qualified immunity from a lawsuit under Section 1983 that alleged, among other things, that he entered their property in violation of the Fourth Amendment when he went into their backyard and onto their deck without a warrant. The police officer did not violate clearly established federal law when he went to a sliding glass door that he believed was a customary entryway that was open to visitors.
Grady v. North Carolina, No. 14-593 [ Decided 3.30.2015]

Holding: Whether the state of North Carolina performs an unconstitutional search when it requires a citizen to wear a GPS monitoring ankle bracelet for the rest of his life based only on the citizen's status as a recidivist sex offender and where there is no finding that he is a threat to society.
Woods v. Donald, No. 14-618 [ Decided 3.30.2015]

Holding: (1) Whether the Michigan courts' decision not to extend United States v. Cronic to cover counsel's brief absence from trial was an “extreme malfunction” entitling the petitioner to habeas relief; and (2) whether the Michigan courts reasonably determined that Donald had not shown Strickland v. Washington prejudice flowing from his counsel's brief absence in a multi-defendant case during the taking of evidence that did not inculpate his client.
Toca v. Louisiana, No. 14-6381

Issue(s): 1) Does the rule announced in Miller v. Alabama apply retroactively to this case? 2) Is a federal question raised by a claim that a state collateral review court erroneously failed to find a exception?
Christeson v. Roper, No. 14-6873 [ Decided 1.20.2015]

Holding: (1) Whether an actual conflict of interest meets the “interests of justice” standard established in Martel v. Clair and requires substitution of conflict free counsel for conflicted counsel appointed under 18 U.S.C. § 3599; and (2) whether counsel appointed under 18 U.S.C. § 3599, who procedurally defaulted the client’s federal habeas application by untimely filing the petition, should continue their court appointment and determine the existence of, and plead, their own abandonment and/or egregious misconduct warranting equitable tolling of their client’s statute of limitations under Holland v. Florida.
Term Snapshot
Awards