If you took the argument Monday morning in Hawkins v. Bank of Raymore as evidence, you would think the Justices were well-rested after their summer break – they came out with lots of questions and for much of the argument spent more time talking and joking with each other than they did listening to the lawyers arguing.
The case involves a loan from the Bank of Raymore to a Missouri limited liability company, for the purpose of developing a residential subdivision. Despite a long-standing Federal Reserve rule (Regulation B) that makes it illegal to do so, the Bank required guaranties from Valerie Hawkins and Janice Patterson, the spouses of the two members of the LLC. The problem that brings the regulation before the Court is the fragile textual basis on which the regulation rests. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”) makes it unlawful to “discriminate against any applicant” on the basis of marital status, and it defines an applicant as “any person who applies to a creditor directly for an extension, renewal, or continuation of credit.” Accepting that the spousal-guaranty requirement is a species of marital discrimination, it is not at all obvious how a guarantor qualifies as an “applicant.”
In its Conference of October 9, 2015, the Court will consider petitions seeking review of issues such as whether California’s “top two” electoral system substantially burdens voter rights of political association and whether private party contracts that dictate fiduciary obligations are preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
This edition of “Petitions to watch” features petitions raising issues that Tom has determined to have a reasonable chance of being granted, although we post them here without consideration of whether they present appropriate vehicles in which to decide those issues. Our policy is to include and disclose all cases in which Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents either a party or an amicus in the case, with the exception of the rare cases in which Goldstein & Russell represents the respondent(s) but does not appear on the briefs in the case.
Yesterday the Justices returned to the bench for the first oral arguments of the Term. First up was OBB Personenverkehr v. Sachs, in which the Court is considering whether a California woman who lost both legs in a train accident in Austria can sue the Austrian national railroad in U.S. courts. I covered the oral argument for this blog, with other coverage coming from Adam Liptak of The New York Times. Continue reading »
The Court opened its new Term this morning with oral arguments in a California woman’s case against the Austrian national railroad: Carol Sachs is seeking to hold the railroad responsible in U.S. courts for an accident in which she lost both of her legs, while the railroad argues that a 1976 law, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, bars lawsuits against it. Sachs counters that her lawsuit should still be allowed to go forward because the FSIA contains an exception for claims based on a country’s commercial dealings in the United States. (I covered more details of her lawsuit in my preview of the case.) By the end of the hour, the Justices appeared skeptical that Sachs’s claims had enough of a connection to the United States to be allowed to proceed under the “commercial activity” exception, although it was not clear on what legal grounds they might rely to reach their decision. Continue reading »
The Supreme Court, changing some of its procedures with Monday’s opening of a new Term, announced that lawyers who plan to attend oral argument sessions can no longer hire “line standers” to hold their places. This is now a do-it-yourself opportunity, the Court said in a statement outlining several changes.
Long lines usually form outside the Court building only when a high-profile case is scheduled, with heavy demand for the limited seating in the courtroom. The new policy apparently does not affect public lines. The Court did not explain the new policy for attorneys.
Other changes announced on Monday included making revisions to a published opinion of the Court more visible and a new effort to keep Internet links that appear within Court opinions from disappearing — what the Court indelicately calls “link rot.”
One of the biggest insider-trading cases to hit Wall Street operatives came to an end in the Supreme Court on Monday, as the Justices — without a noted dissent — turned aside a plea by the Obama administration that its loss in that case in lower courts will seriously hamper its ability to monitor market manipulation. The denial of review in United States v. Newman on the opening day of a new Term was the most significant development appearing on a massive list of orders turning aside hundreds of newly filed cases — among them, a new attempt to take away the antitrust exemption for major league baseball when it blocks a team’s movement to another city.
The Court also issued its first ruling of the Term, a summary decision in a murder case that spares lawyers from having to engage in possibly futile searches for obscure documents to help in defending clients at trial. The decision, made without briefing and oral argument, came in Maryland v. Kulbicki, a case that provided the plot for a Hollywood movie,
The Victim in the Night.
In a series of orders, the Court asked the U.S. Solicitor General to offer the federal government’s views on four new cases, involving the scope of a 2005 federal law that protects the privacy of records about medical errors that cause patient injury or deaths, the legal right of the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) to transfer to federal court a state-law case against it, the reach of U.S. patent law to overseas business activity, and the right to sue foreign governments in U.S. courts over activity that occurred abroad.
It’s the first Monday in October, which means that the Justices return to the bench today for oral arguments. Robert Barnes of The Washington Post previews the new Term, noting that the Justices begin it “with a chief justice who has become a campaign issue and a docket that seems designed to remind Americans about the importance of the high court in the presidential contest.” Richard Wolf does the same for USA Today, reporting that the Court “embarks on a new term Monday that would make Yogi Berra proud: It truly is déjà vu all over again.” Lawrence Hurley of Reuters previews the Court’s business docket, reporting that three “class action cases give the conservative-leaning court another opportunity to cut back on such litigation, as it has done in a series of rulings in recent years.” Adam White and Adam Gustafson also look at the new Term in a preview for the Washington Examiner, suggesting that “one should expect the drama to continue when the justices return to the bench this week.” The National Constitution Center also hosts a preview podcast from Kenji Yoshino and Josh Blackman. And at Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost contends that the Court’s more conservative Justices may be “still licking their wounds after a term when they were on the losing side of most of the most important decisions. But for conservatives, this may be the new season that diehard sports fans are always told to wait until.” Continue reading »
This is the first week of the Court’s October Term 2015. On Thursday, the Court added thirteen new cases to its merits docket; Lyle Denniston covered the orders for this blog. We expect additional orders from the September 28 Conference on Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. The full list of scheduled arguments for the October sitting is here. On Friday, the Justices will meet for their October 9 Conference.