Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

The court will be issuing opinions on Friday at 10 a.m. We will begin live-blogging at 9:30 a.m.
Our first interim Stat Pack for October Term 2016, prepared by Kedar Bhatia, is available at this link.
The Supreme Court proceedings and orders in the legal challenges to the administration’s entry ban are available at this link.

October Term 2015

View this list sorted by case name.

October Sitting

OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs, No. 13-1067 [Arg: 10.5.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.1.2015]

Holding: A California woman’s lawsuit against the Austrian national railroad for injuries that she suffered while attempting to board a train in Austria does not fall within the “commercial activity” exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and is therefore barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Although the plaintiff purchased a Eurail pass in the United States, her lawsuit is not “based upon a commercial activity carried on in the United States by a foreign state” because the conduct constituting the gravamen of her suit occurred in Austria.
Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore, No. 14-520 [Arg: 10.5.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.22.2016]

Holding: (1) Whether “primarily and unconditionally liable” spousal guarantors are unambiguously excluded from being Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) “applicants” because they are not integrally part of “any aspect of a credit transaction”; and (2) whether the Federal Reserve Board has authority under the ECOA to include by regulation spousal guarantors as “applicants” to further the purposes of eliminating discrimination against married women.
DIRECTV v. Imburgia, No. 14-462 [Arg: 10.6.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.14.2015]

Holding: Because the California Court of Appeal’s interpretation of a service agreement that included a binding arbitration provision with a class arbitration waiver – which specified that the entire arbitration provision was unenforceable if the “law of your state” made class-arbitration waivers unenforceable, but also declared that the arbitration clause was governed by the Federal Arbitration Act – is pre-empted by the Federal Arbitration Act, that court must enforce the arbitration agreement.
Ocasio v. U.S., No. 14-361 [Arg: 10.6.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.2.2016]

Holding: A defendant may be convicted of conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act based on proof that he reached an agreement with the owner of the property in question to obtain that property under color of official right.
Kansas v. Gleason, No. 14-452 [Arg: 10.7.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.20.2016]

Holding: 1) The Eighth Amendment does not require capital-sentencing courts to instruct a jury that mitigating circumstances need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. 2) The Constitution did not require severance of joint sentencing proceedings because the contention that the admission of mitigating evidence by one defendant could have "so infected" the jury's consideration of the other defendant's sentence as to amount to a denial of due process does not stand in light of all the evidence presented at the guilty and penalty phases relevant to the jury's sentencing determination.
Kansas v. Carr, No. 14-450 [Arg: 10.7.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.20.2016]

Holding: 1) The Eighth Amendment does not require capital-sentencing courts to instruct a jury that mitigating circumstances need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. 2) The Constitution did not require severance of joint sentencing proceedings because the contention that the admission of mitigating evidence by one defendant could have "so infected" the jury's consideration of the other defendant's sentence as to amount to a denial of due process does not stand in light of all the evidence presented at the guilty and penalty phases relevant to the jury's sentencing determination.
Kansas v. Carr, No. 14-449 [Arg: 10.7.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.20.2016]

Holding: 1) The Eighth Amendment does not require capital-sentencing courts to instruct a jury that mitigating circumstances need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. 2) The Constitution did not require severance of joint sentencing proceedings because the contention that the admission of mitigating evidence by one defendant could have "so infected" the jury's consideration of the other defendant's sentence as to amount to a denial of due process does not stand in light of all the evidence presented at the guilty and penalty phases relevant to the jury's sentencing determination.
Hurst v. Florida, No. 14-7505 [Arg: 10.13.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.12.16]

Holding: Florida's capital-sentencing scheme, in which a jury renders an “advisory sentence” but a judge must independently weigh the aggravating and mitigating factors before entering a sentence of life or death, violates the Sixth Amendment in light of the Court's decision in Ring v. Arizona, which deemed unconstitutional an Arizona capital sentencing scheme that permitted a judge rather than the jury to find the facts necessary to sentence a defendant to death.
Montgomery v. Louisiana, No. 14-280 [Arg: 10.13.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.25.2016]

Holding: 1) The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to decide whether a state supreme court correctly refused to give retroactive effect to the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama, prohibiting mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole for juveniles; and (2) Miller announced a new substantive rule that, under the Constitution, is retroactive in cases on state collateral review.
Campbell-Ewald Company v. Gomez, No. 14-857 [Arg: 10.14.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.20.2016]

Holding: 1) An unaccepted settlement offer or offer of judgment does not moot a plaintiff's case, so the district court retains jurisdiction to adjudicate the plaintiff’s complaint. 2) A federal contractor is not entitled to immunity from suit for its violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act when it violated both federal law and the government's explicit instructions.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association, No. 14-840 [Arg: 10.14.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.25.2016]

Holding: The Federal Power Act authorizes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to regulate “ the sale of electric energy at wholesale in interstate commerce,” including both wholesale electricity rates and any rule or practice “affecting” such rates, but it leaves the regulation of “any other sale” of electricity to the states. The FPA provides FERC with the authority to regulate wholesale market operators' compensation of demand response bids because the practices at issue directly affect wholesale rates, FERC has not regulated retail sales, and the contrary view would conflict with the FPA's core purposes. Moreover, FERC's decision to compensate demand response providers at the locational marginal price, which is the same price paid to generators, instead of at the locational marginal price less the retail rate for electricity, is not arbitrary and capricious when FERC provided a detailed explanation for that decision and responded at length to contrary views.
EnerNOC v. Electric Power Supply Association, No. 14-841 [Arg: 10.14.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.25.2016]

Holding: The Federal Power Act authorizes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to regulate “ the sale of electric energy at wholesale in interstate commerce,” including both wholesale electricity rates and any rule or practice “affecting” such rates, but it leaves the regulation of “any other sale” of electricity to the states. The FPA provides FERC with the authority to regulate wholesale market operators' compensation of demand response bids because the practices at issue directly affect wholesale rates, FERC has not regulated retail sales, and the contrary view would conflict with the FPA's core purposes. Moreover, FERC's decision to compensate demand response providers at the locational marginal price, which is the same price paid to generators, instead of at the locational marginal price less the retail rate for electricity, is not arbitrary and capricious when FERC provided a detailed explanation for that decision and responded at length to contrary views.

November Sitting

Foster v. Chatman, No. 14-8349 [Arg: 11.2.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.23.2016]

Holding: (1) This Court has jurisdiction to review the judgment of the Georgia Supreme Court denying Timothy Foster a certificate of probable cause on his claim, under Batson v. Kentucky, that the state's use of peremptory challenges to strike all four black prospective jurors qualified to serve on the jury for his capital murder trial was racially motivated; and (2) the decision of the Georgia Supreme Court that Foster failed to show purposeful discrimination was clearly erroneous.
Spokeo v. Robins, No. 13-1339 [Arg: 11.2.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: Because the Ninth Circuit failed to consider both aspects of the injury-in-fact requirements -- an injury in fact must be both concrete and particularized, but the Ninth Circuit's observations concerned only "particularization" -- its Article III standing analysis was incomplete.
Lockhart v. U.S., No. 14-8358 [Arg: 11.3.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.1.2016]

Holding: A state-court conviction for first-degree sexual abuse involving the defendant’s adult girlfriend triggers the ten-year mandatory minimum sentence of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(b)(2), which applies to prior state-court convictions for crimes “relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual conduct involving a minor or ward”; the limiting phrase “involving a minor or ward” applies only to the phrase “abusive sexual conduct.”
Luna Torres v. Lynch, No. 14-1096 [Arg: 11.3.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.19.2016]

Holding: A state offense counts as an "aggravated felony" for purposes of Section 1101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which contains a long list of offenses that can render a non-citizen deportable and further specifies that an offense listed in the statute is an aggravated felony whether it is in violation of federal, state, or foreign law, when it has every element of a listed federal crime except one requiring a connection to interstate or foreign commerce.
Bruce v. Samuels, No. 14-844 [Arg: 11.4.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.12.16]

Holding: When a prisoner files more than one case or appeal in the federal courts in forma pauperis, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), calls for simultaneous, rather than sequential, recoupment of multiple monthly installment payments.
Shapiro v. McManus, No. 14-990 [Arg: 11.4.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.8.2015]

Holding: 28 U.S.C. § 2284, which requires that a “district court of three judges shall be convened . . . when an action is filed challenging the constitutionality of the apportionment of congressional districts,” and further provides that “the judge [presented with a request for a three-judge court] shall, unless he determines that three judges are not required, immediately notify the chief judge of the circuit, who shall designate two other judges to serve,” entitles a group of Maryland residents to make their claim that the state’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan burdens their First Amendment right of political association before a three-judge court.
Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, No. 14-723 [Arg: 11.9.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.20.2016]

Holding: When an ERISA-plan participant wholly dissipates a third-party settlement on non traceable items, the plan fiduciary may not bring suit to attach the participant's separate assets under Section 502(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), which authorizes plan fiduciaries to file suit "to obtain… appropriate equitable relief," because the plan is not seeking equitable relief under the circumstances of seeking to recover such general funds.
Luis v. U.S., No. 14-419 [Arg: 11.10.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.30.2016]

Holding: The pretrial freeze of a criminal defendant's legitimate, untainted assets violates the Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice.
Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo, No. 14-1146 [Arg: 11.10.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.22.2016]

Holding: The district court did not err in certifying and maintaining a class of employees who allege that the employer’s failure to pay them for donning and doffing protective gear violate the Fair Labor Standards Act, notwithstanding the employees’ reliance on “representative evidence” to determine the number of additional hours that each employee worked, when the employer had failed to keep adequate records.

December Sitting

Green v. Brennan, No. 14-613 [Arg: 11.30.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.23.2016]

Holding: (1) Because part of the "matter alleged to be discriminatory" in a constructive-discharge claim alleging discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an employee's resignation, the forty-five-day limitations period for contacting an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor for such action (a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit alleging discrimination) begins running only after an employee resigns; and (2) a constructive-discharge claim accrues -- and the limitations period begins to run -- when the employee gives notice of his resignation, not on the effective date thereof.
Musacchio v. U.S., No. 14-1095 [Arg: 11.30.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.25.2016]

Holding: 1) When a jury instruction adds an element to the charged crime and the government fails to object, a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence should be assessed against the elements of the charged crime, rather than the elements set forth in the erroneous jury instruction; and (2) a defendant cannot successfully raise a statute-of-limitations bar for the first time on appeal.
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith v. Manning, No. 14-1132 [Arg: 12.1.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: The jurisdictional test established by Section 27 of the federal Securities Exchange Act of 1934 is the same as the test of the general federal-question statute, Section 1331, for deciding if a case "arises under" a federal law.
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. U.S., No. 14-510 [Arg: 12.1.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.25.2016]

Holding: Equitable tolling is not available to preserve contract claims that were not timely presented to a federal contracting officer because there were no extraordinary circumstances beyond the tribe’s control: the tribe had unilateral authority to present its claims in a timely manner, and its claimed obstacles – a mistaken reliance on a putative class action and a belief that presentment was futile – were not outside the tribe’s control.
Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, No. 14-181 [Arg: 12.2.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.1.2016]

Holding: As applied to Employee Retirement Income Security Act plans, ERISA pre-empts a Vermont law that requires certain entities, including health insurers, to report payments relating to health care claims and other information relating to health care services to a state agency for compilation in an all-inclusive health care database.
Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, No. 13-1496 [Arg: 12.7.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2016]

Holding: Whether Indian tribal courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate civil tort claims against nonmembers, including as a means of regulating the conduct of nonmembers who enter into consensual relationships with a tribe or its members. CVSG: 5/12/2015.
Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, No. 14-1175 [Arg: 12.7.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.19.2016]

Holding: (1) The Court is equally divided on the question whether Nevada v. Hall should be overruled and thus affirms the Nevada courts' exercise of jurisdiction over California's state agency; and (2) the Constitution does not permit Nevada to apply a rule of Nevada law that awards damages against California that are greater than it could award Nevada in similar circumstances.
Evenwel v. Abbott, No. 14-940 [Arg: 12.8.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.4.2016]

Holding: As constitutional history, precedent, and practice demonstrate, a state or locality may draw its legislative districts based on total population.
Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, No. 14-232 [Arg: 12.8.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.20.2016]

Holding: The federal district court did not err in upholding Arizona's redistricting plan because the plan's population deviations predominantly reflected efforts to achieve compliance with the Voting Rights Act, not to secure political advantage for the Democratic Party.
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, No. 14-981 [Arg: 12.9.2015 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2016]

Holding: The race-conscious admissions program in use by the University of Texas at Austin when Abigail Fisher applied to the school in 2008 is lawful under the Equal Protection Clause.

January Sitting

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915 [Arg: 1.11.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.29.2016]

Holding: (1) Whether Abood v. Detroit Board of Education should be overruled and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements invalidated under the First Amendment; and (2) whether it violates the First Amendment to require that public employees affirmatively object to subsidizing nonchargeable speech by public-sector unions, rather than requiring that employees affirmatively consent to subsidizing such speech.
Molina-Martinez v. U.S., No. 14-8913 [Arg: 1.12.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.20.2016]

Holding: Courts reviewing use of an incorrect Federal Sentencing Guidelines range cannot apply a categorical "additional evidence" rule requiring a showing that use of the incorrect range affected a defendant's sentence in cases in which a district court applied an incorrect range but sentenced the defendant within the correct range.
Duncan v. Owens, No. 14-1516 [Arg: 1.12.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.20.2016]

Holding: Whether the Seventh Circuit violated 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and a long line of this Court's decisions by awarding habeas relief in the absence of clearly established precedent from this Court.
Bank Markazi v. Peterson, No. 14-770 [Arg: 1.13.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.20.2016]

Holding: Section 8772 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, which makes a set of assets held at a New York bank for Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran, available for post-judgment execution to partially satisfy judgments in actions brought by victims of terrorist acts sponsored by Iran, does not violate the separation of powers.
Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle, No. 15-108 [Arg: 1.13.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.9.2016]

Holding: The Double Jeopardy Clause bars Puerto Rico and the United States from successively prosecuting a single person for the same conduct under equivalent criminal laws.
Americold Realty Trust v. ConAgra Foods, No. 14-1382 [Arg: 1.19.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.7.2016]

Holding: For purposes of diversity jurisdiction, citizenship of an unincorporated entity depends on the citizenship of all of its members. Because, under Maryland law, a real estate investment trust is held and managed for the benefit of its shareholders, Americold’s members include its shareholders.
Heffernan v. City of Paterson, No. 14-1280 [Arg: 1.19.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.26.2016]

Holding: When an employer demotes an employee out of a desire to prevent the employee from engaging in protected political activity, the employee is entitled to challenge that unlawful action under the First Amendment and Section 1983 even if the employer's actions are based on a factual mistake about the employee's behavior.
Sturgeon v. Frost, No. 14-1209 [Arg: 1.20.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.22.2016]

Holding: The Ninth Circuit's interpretation of Section 103(c) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which addresses the scope of the National Park Service’s authority over lands within the boundaries of conservation system units in Alaska, to ban hovercrafts on state-owned waters flowing through federally managed preservation areas, is inconsistent with both the act’s text and context.
Nebraska v. Parker, No. 14-1406 [Arg: 1.20.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.22.2016]

Holding: An 1882 law that authorized the Secretary of the Interior to survey, appraise, and sell roughly 50,000 acres of reservation land did not diminish the Omaha Indian Reservation.

February Sitting

Kingdomware Technologies v. U.S., No. 14-916 [Arg: 2.22.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.16.2016]

Holding: (1) The Court has jurisdiction to reach the merits of this case because it is reasonable to expect that the federal government will refuse to apply the Rule of Two -- which provides that a contracting officer award contracts by restricting competition for contracts to veteran-owned small businesses if the officer reasonably expects that at least two such businesses will submit offers and that the award can be made at a fair and reasonable price that offers best value to the United States -- in a future bid by Kingdomware Technologies, Inc.; and (2) the contracting procedures under Section 8127(d) of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act are mandatory and apply to all contracting determinations by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Utah v. Strieff, No. 14-1373 [Arg: 2.22.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.20.2016]

Holding: When there was no flagrant police misconduct and a police officer discovered a valid, pre-existing, and untainted warrant for an individual’s arrest, evidence seized pursuant to that arrest is admissible even when the police officer’s stop of the individual was unconstitutional, because the discovery of the warrant attenuated the connection between the stop and the evidence.
Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, No. 14-1520 [Arg: 2.23.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.13.2016]

Holding: Section 284 of the Patent Act provides that, in a case of infringement, courts “may increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed.” Under the Federal Circuit's two-part Seagate test, damages may be increased under Section 284 only if the patent owner can show, by clear and convincing evidence, both that “the infringer acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent” and that the risk of infringement “was either known or so obvious that it should have been known to the accused infringer.” The Seagate test is “unduly rigid” and not consistent with the text of Section 284.
Halo Electronics v. Pulse Electronics, No. 14-1513 [Arg: 2.23.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.13.2016]

Holding: Section 284 of the Patent Act provides that, in a case of infringement, courts “may increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed.” Under the Federal Circuit's two-part Seagate test, damages may be increased under Section 284 only if the patent owner can show, by clear and convincing evidence, both that “the infringer acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent” and that the risk of infringement “was either known or so obvious that it should have been known to the accused infringer.” The Seagate test is “unduly rigid” and not consistent with the text of Section 284.
Taylor v. U.S., No. 14-6166 [Arg: 2.23.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.20.2016]

Holding: Because the Hobbs Act criminalizes robberies and attempted robberies that affect any commerce “over which the U.S. has jurisdiction,’ the prosecution in a Hobbs Act robbery case satisfies the act's commerce element if it shows that the defendant robbed or attempted to rob a drug dealer of drugs or drug proceeds.
Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing, No. 14-614 [Arg: 2.24.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.19.2016]

Holding: Maryland's regulatory program to encourage development of new in-state energy generation is preempted by the Federal Power Act, which vests in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission exclusive jurisdiction over interstate wholesale electricity rates.
CPV Maryland, LLC v. Talen Energy Marketing, No. 14-623 [Arg: 2.24.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.19.2016]

Holding: Maryland's regulatory program to encourage development of new in-state energy generation is preempted by the Federal Power Act, which vests in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission exclusive jurisdiction over interstate wholesale electricity rates.
Williams v. Pennsylvania, No. 15-5040 [Arg: 2.29.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.9.2016]

Holding: Under the Due Process Clause, there is an impermissible risk of actual bias when a judge earlier had significant, personal involvement as a prosecutor in a critical decision regarding the defendant’s case.
Voisine v. U.S., No. 14-10154 [Arg: 2.29.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.27.2016]

Holding: A reckless domestic assault qualifies as a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" that prohibits firearms possession by convicted felons under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9).
Husky Int'l Electronics v. Ritz, No. 15-145 [Arg: 3.1.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: The term "actual fraud" in Section 523(a)(2)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code encompasses fraudulent conveyance schemes, even when those schemes do not involve a false representation.
Nichols v. U.S., No. 15-5238 [Arg: 3.1.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.4.2016]

Holding: The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which makes it a federal crime for certain sex offenders to “knowingly fai[l] to register or update a registration,” and requires sex offenders who move to another state to, “no later than 3 business days after each change of name, residence, employment, or student status,” inform in person at least one jurisdiction “where the offender resides, . . . is an employee, and . . . is a student,” did not require Lester Nichols, a registered sex offender, to update his registration in Kansas once he left the state and moved to the Philippines.
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, No. 15-274 [Arg: 3.2.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.27.2016]

Holding: Two provisions in a Texas law – requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and requiring abortion clinics in the state to have facilities comparable to an ambulatory surgical center – place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion, constitute an undue burden on abortion access, and therefore violate the Constitution.

March Sitting

Wittman v. Personhuballah, No. 14-1504 [Arg: 03.21.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.23.2016]

Holding: The appellants, members of Congress, who intervened to help defend Virginia’s 2013 congressional redistricting plan, lack standing to pursue an appeal of the district court’s holding that the plan was unconstitutional.
RJR Nabisco v. The European Community, No. 15-138 [Arg: 3.21.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.20.2016]

Holding: A violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962 of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act may be based on a pattern of racketeering that includes predicate offenses committed abroad, provided that each of those offenses violates a predicate statute that is itself extraterritorial. However, a private RICO plaintiff must allege and prove a domestic injury.
Simmons v. Himmelreich, No. 15-109 [Arg: 3.22.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.6.2016]

Holding: The Federal Tort Claims Act's judgment bar provision does not apply to claims dismissed for falling within the FTCA's "exceptions" section.
Acosta-Febo v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust, No. 15-255 [Arg: 3.22.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.13.2016]

Holding: Section 903(1) of the Bankruptcy Code, which pre-empts state bankruptcy laws that enable insolvent municipalities to restructure their debts over the objections of creditors and instead requires municipalities to restructure such debts under Chapter 9 of the federal Bankruptcy Code, pre-empts the Puerto Rico Public Corporation Debt Enforcement and Recovery Act, which was enacted to enable the commonwealth’s public utilities to implement a recovery or restructuring plan for their debt.
Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust, No. 15-233 [Arg: 3.22.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.13.2016]

Holding: Section 903(1) of the Bankruptcy Code, which pre-empts state bankruptcy laws that enable insolvent municipalities to restructure their debts over the objections of creditors and instead requires municipalities to restructure such debts under Chapter 9 of the federal Bankruptcy Code, pre-empts the Puerto Rico Public Corporation Debt Enforcement and Recovery Act, which was enacted to enable the commonwealth’s public utilities to implement a recovery or restructuring plan for their debt.
Geneva College v. Burwell, No. 15-191 [Arg: 3.23.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: Because both the Obama administration and the religious non-profits, colleges, and schools challenging the accommodation offered to those who object to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate confirm that contraceptive coverage could be provided to the challengers’ female employees, through the challengers’ insurance companies, without any notice from the challengers, the decisions of the courts of appeals rejecting the challenge are vacated and remanded. Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, the parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates the challengers’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by the challengers’ health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.
Priests for Life v. Burwell, No. 14-1453 [Arg: 3.23.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: Because both the Obama administration and the religious non-profits, colleges, and schools challenging the accommodation offered to those who object to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate confirm that contraceptive coverage could be provided to the challengers’ female employees, through the challengers’ insurance companies, without any notice from the challengers, the decisions of the courts of appeals rejecting the challenge are vacated and remanded. Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, the parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates the challengers’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by the challengers’ health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Burwell, No. 14-1505 [Arg: 3.23.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: Because both the Obama administration and the religious non-profits, colleges, and schools challenging the accommodation offered to those who object to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate confirm that contraceptive coverage could be provided to the challengers’ female employees, through the challengers’ insurance companies, without any notice from the challengers, the decisions of the courts of appeals rejecting the challenge are vacated and remanded. Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, the parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates the challengers’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by the challengers’ health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.
Zubik v. Burwell, No. 14-1418 [Arg: 3.23.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: Because both the Obama administration and the religious non-profits, colleges, and schools challenging the accommodation offered to those who object to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate confirm that contraceptive coverage could be provided to the challengers’ female employees, through the challengers’ insurance companies, without any notice from the challengers, the decisions of the courts of appeals rejecting the challenge are vacated and remanded. Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, the parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates the challengers’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by the challengers’ health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.
Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell, No. 15-119 [Arg: 3.23.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: Because both the Obama administration and the religious non-profits, colleges, and schools challenging the accommodation offered to those who object to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate confirm that contraceptive coverage could be provided to the challengers’ female employees, through the challengers’ insurance companies, without any notice from the challengers, the decisions of the courts of appeals rejecting the challenge are vacated and remanded. Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, the parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates the challengers’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by the challengers’ health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.
East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell, No. 15-35 [Arg: 3.23.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: Because both the Obama administration and the religious non-profits, colleges, and schools challenging the accommodation offered to those who object to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate confirm that contraceptive coverage could be provided to the challengers’ female employees, through the challengers’ insurance companies, without any notice from the challengers, the decisions of the courts of appeals rejecting the challenge are vacated and remanded. Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, the parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates the challengers’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by the challengers’ health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.
Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell, No. 15-105 [Arg: 3.23.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: Because both the Obama administration and the religious non-profits, colleges, and schools challenging the accommodation offered to those who object to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate confirm that contraceptive coverage could be provided to the challengers’ female employees, through the challengers’ insurance companies, without any notice from the challengers, the decisions of the courts of appeals rejecting the challenge are vacated and remanded. Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, the parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates the challengers’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by the challengers’ health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.
CRST Van Expedited v. EEOC, No. 14-1375 [Arg: 3.28.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.19.2016]

Holding: A favorable ruling on the merits is not a necessary predicate to find that a defendant is a prevailing party for purposes of an award of attorney’s fees under Section 706 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Betterman v. Montana, No. 14-1457 [Arg: 3.28.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.19.2016]

Holding: The Sixth Amendment's speedy trial guarantee does not apply once a defendant has been found guilty at trial or has pleaded guilty to criminal charges.
Sheriff v. Gillie, No. 15-338 [Arg: 3.29.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: Assuming, arguendo, that special counsel do not rank as "state officers" within the meaning of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, special counsel's use of the Ohio attorney general's letterhead in their efforts on behalf of the attorney general to collect debts owed to the state or one of its instrumentalities does not offend 15 U.S.C. § 1692e, which bars "false, deceptive, or misleading representation[s]... in connection with the collection of any debt."
Ross v. Blake, No. 15-339 [Arg: 3.29.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.6.2016]

Holding: The Fourth Circuit's unwritten "special circumstances" exception, which can excuse an inmate's failure to comply with procedural requirements before challenging prison conditions, is inconsistent with the text and history of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
Welch v. U.S., No. 15-6418 [Arg: 3.30.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.18.2016]

Holding: The Court’s 2015 ruling in Johnson v. United States, holding that the imposition of an increased sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act's residual clause violates due process, announced a new substantive rule that has retroactive effect in cases on collateral review.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., No. 15-290 [Arg: 3.30.16 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.31.2016]

Holding: An approved jurisdictional determination by the United States Army Corps of Engineers definitively stating the presence or absence of waters of the United States on a particular property is a final agency action judicially reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act.

April Sitting

U.S. v. Texas, No. 15-674 [Arg: 4.18.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2016]

Holding: (1) Whether a state that voluntarily provides a subsidy to all aliens with deferred action has Article III standing and a justiciable cause of action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to challenge the Secretary of Homeland Security’s guidance seeking to establish a process for considering deferred action for certain aliens because it will lead to more aliens having deferred action; (2) whether the guidance is arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law; (3) whether the guidance was subject to the APA’s notice-and-comment procedures; and (4) whether the guidance violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, Article II, section 3.
U.S. v. Bryant, No. 15-420 [Arg: 4.19.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.13.2016]

Holding: The use of tribal-court convictions as predicate offenses in a subsequent prosecution does not violate the Constitution when the tribal-court convictions occurred in proceedings that complied with the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 and were therefore valid when entered.
Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar, No. 15-7 [Arg: 4.19.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.16.2016]

Holding: (1) The implied false certification theory can be a basis for liability under the False Claims Act when a defendant submitting a claim makes specific representations about the goods or services provided, but fails to disclose non-compliance with material statutory, regulatory, or contractual requirements that make those representations misleading with respect to those goods or services; and (2) liability under the FCA for failing to disclose violations of legal requirements does not turn upon whether those requirements were expressly designated as conditions of payment.
Bernard v. Minnesota, No. 14-1470 [Arg: 4.20.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2016]

Holding: The Fourth Amendment permits warrantless breath tests incident to arrests for drunk driving but not warrantless blood tests.
Beylund v. Levi, No. 14-1507 [Arg: 4.20.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2016]

Holding: The Fourth Amendment permits warrantless breath tests incident to arrests for drunk driving but not warrantless blood tests.
Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, No. 15-415 [Arg: 4.20.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.20.2016]

Holding: The Fair Labor Standards Act exempts “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles” from an employer’s general obligation to pay overtime to employees who work more than forty hours in a week. Because the Department of Labor’s 2011 interpretation of this provision was issued without the reasoned explanation that was required in light of the department’s change in position and the significant reliance interests involved, the provision must be construed without placing controlling weight on that interpretation.
Birchfield v. North Dakota, No. 14-1468 [Arg: 4.20.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2016]

Holding: The Fourth Amendment permits warrantless breath tests incident to arrests for drunk driving but not warrantless blood tests.
Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, No. 15-375 [Arg: 4.25.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.16.2016]

Holding: (1) When deciding whether to award attorney's fees under the Copyright Act’s fee-shifting provision, a district court should give substantial weight to the objective reasonableness of the losing party's position, while still taking into account all other circumstances relevant to granting fees; and (2) while the Second Circuit properly calls for district courts to give "substantial weight" to the reasonableness of a losing party's litigating positions, its language at times suggests that a finding of reasonableness raises a presumption against granting fees, and that goes too far in cabining the district court's analysis.
Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, No. 15-446 [Arg: 4.25.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.20.2016]

Holding: The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act creates an agency procedure called “inter partes review” that allows a third party to ask the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to re-examine the claims in an already-issued patent and to cancel any claim that the agency finds to be unpatentable in light of prior art; the act also provides that the PTO’s decision whether to institute an inter partes review is “final and unappealable.” This provision bars a court from considering whether the PTO was correct in instituting an inter partes review when it did so on grounds not specifically mentioned in a third party’s review request. Moreover, the PTO has authority to issue a regulation stating that the agency, in inter partes review, shall construe a patent claim according to its broadest reasonable construction in light of the specification of the patent in which it appears.
Mathis v. U.S., No. 15-6092 [Arg: 4.26.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.23.2016]

Holding: The Armed Career Criminal Act imposes a fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence on a defendant convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm who also has three prior state or federal convictions “for a violent felony,” including “burglary, arson, or extortion.” Because the elements of Iowa’s burglary law – which applies to “any building, structure, [or] land, water, or air vehicle” – is broader than those of generic “burglary” – which requires unlawful entry into a “building or other structure” – prior convictions under the Iowa burglary law cannot give rise to a sentence enhancement under the ACCA.
Dietz v. Bouldin, No. 15-458 [Arg: 4.26.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.9.2016]

Holding: A federal district court has a limited inherent power to rescind a jury discharge order and recall a jury in a civil case for further deliberations after identifying an error in the jury's verdict. The district court did not abuse that power here.
McDonnell v. U.S., No. 15-474 [Arg: 4.27.2016 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.27.2016]

Holding: The federal bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. § 201, makes it a crime for a public official to “receive or accept anything of value” in exchange for being “influenced in the performance of any official act.” An "official act" is a decision or action on a "question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy"; that question or matter must involve a formal exercise of governmental power, and must also be something specific and focused that is "pending" or "may by law be brought" before a public official. To qualify as an "official act," the public official must make a decision to take an action on that question or matter, or agree to do so. Setting up a meeting, talking to another official, or organizing an event -- without more -- does not fit that definition of "official act." Because jury instructions in the case of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell were erroneous, and those errors are not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, McDonnell's convictions are vacated.

Decided without oral argument

Maryland v. Kulbicki, No. 14-848 [ Decided 10.5.2015]

Holding: An appellate court violates the core principles of Strickland v. Washington when it conducts a post-hoc assessment of trial counsel’s performance based on scientific advances not available at the time of trial.
Mullenix v. Luna, No. 14-1143 [ Decided 11.09.2015]

Holding: The Fifth Circuit’s determination that a police officer who shot at a fleeing suspect’s car, killing him, is not entitled to qualified immunity is reversed, because existing precedent did not place the conclusion that the officer acted unreasonably “beyond debate.”
White v. Wheeler, No. 14-1372 [ Decided 12.14.2015]

Holding: The Kentucky Supreme Court was not unreasonable in its application of federal law when it concluded that the trial court’s exclusion of a juror from a criminal trial, based on its conclusion that he could not give sufficient assurance of neutrality or impartiality in considering whether the death penalty should be imposed, did not violate the Sixth Amendment. The contrary determination of the court of appeals that excusing the juror in this case violated the Sixth Amendment contravenes controlling precedents of the Supreme Court.
Wearry v. Cain, No. 14-10008 [ Decided 3.7.2016]

Holding: Louisiana's postconviction court erred in denying Michael Wearry's request for post-conviction relief, because the prosecution's failure to disclose material evidence supporting Wearry's innocence violated his due process rights.
Caetano v. Massachusetts, No. 14-10078 [ Decided 3.21.2016]

Holding: The explanation that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts offered for upholding a state law prohibiting the possession of stun guns contradicts Supreme Court precedent in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago.
Amgen Inc. v. Harris, No. 15-278 [ Decided 1.25.2016]

Holding: The Ninth Circuit failed to properly evaluate, to determine whether it states a claim, a complaint filed by a company’s stockholders against the company’s fiduciaries for breach of the duty of prudence when it failed to assess whether the complaint in its current form “has plausibly alleged” that a prudent fiduciary in the same position “could not have concluded” that the alternative action “would do more harm than good.”
James v. City of Boise, No. 15-493 [ Decided 1.25.2016]

Holding: Under federal law, a court has discretion to “allow the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney’s fee” in a civil rights lawsuit filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because the Supreme Court has interpreted this to allow a prevailing defendant to recover fees only if “the plaintiff’s action was frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation,” the Idaho Supreme Court erred when it concluded that it was not bound by this interpretation and awarded fees under federal law to a prevailing defendant without first making this determination.
V.L. v. E.L., No. 15-648 [ Decided 3.7.2016]

Holding: The Alabama Supreme Court erred in refusing to grant full faith and credit to a judgment by a Georgia court making a woman the legal parent of the children she had raised with her same-sex partner since birth; the judgment appears on its face to have been issued by a court with jurisdiction and there is no established Georgia law to the contrary.
Woods v. Etherton, No. 15-723 [ Decided 4.4.2016]

Holding: Given the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which provides that federal habeas relief is available to a state prisoner only if the state court’s decision was “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law,” and requires that a state court’s decision that a habeas claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as “fairminded jurists could disagree on the correctness of the state court’s decision,” both Etherton’s appellate counsel and the state habeas court were to be afforded the benefit of the doubt, which the Sixth Circuit failed to give them.
Johnson v. Lee, No. 15-789 [ Decided 5.31.2016]

Holding: Under California’s “Dixon bar," a defendant procedurally defaults a claim raised for the first time on state collateral review if he could have raised it earlier on direct appeal. Because that bar is longstanding, oft-cited, and shared by habeas courts across the nation, the Ninth Circuit's holding that the bar is inadequate to preclude federal habeas review is reversed.
Kernan v. Hinojosa, No. 15-833 [ Decided 5.16.2016]

Holding: Because the Supreme Court of California's summary denial of Antonio Hinojosa's petition for federal habeas relief was on the merits, the Ninth Circuit should have reviewed Hinojosa's ex post facto claim through deferential, rather than de novo, review as mandated by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
Lynch v. Arizona, No. 15-8366 [ Decided 5.31.2016]

Holding: When the state has put a capital defendant’s future dangerousness at issue and acknowledged that the only possible sentence besides death is life imprisonment without parole, the defendant has a right to inform the jury of that fact, and the Arizona Supreme Court erred in holding to the contrary.
Term Snapshot
Awards