We live-blogged this morning as the court issued opinions. The transcript is available at this link.

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Wednesday round-up

By on Feb 22, 2017 at 6:53 am

The justices will hear oral argument this morning in Kindred Nursing Centers Limited Partnership v. Clark, which asks whether the Federal Arbitration Act pre-empts a state-law contract rule that requires a power of attorney to refer expressly to arbitration agreements before an attorney-in-fact can bind her principal to such an agreement. Ronald Mann previewed the case for this blog. Another preview comes from Liza Carens and Jenna Scoville at Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute.

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Petition of the day

By on Feb 21, 2017 at 11:23 pm

The petition of the day is:

16-810

Issues: (1) Whether funds forfeited pursuant to a criminal conviction are deductible in cases in which such forfeited funds (in contrast with a simultaneously imposed punitive fine) are earmarked and used to compensate victims of the underlying criminal offense; and (2) whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s holding in this case that such forfeited funds are not deductible conflicts with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit’s holding in Stephens v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit’s holding in Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. v. United States.

 
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Last week the court released its calendar for the April sitting, the final two-week session in which the justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments during the 2016-2017 term. With a full calendar (and then some) for April, and three cases that were granted in January carried over to the fall, it was not altogether surprising that the justices granted only one new case when they returned from their winter recess today. That case, Class v. United States, raises an interesting question about a criminal defendant’s right to appeal after he has pleaded guilty. But perhaps the most noteworthy development on today’s order list was a lengthy and impassioned dissent, by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, from the court’s decision not to review a challenge to Alabama’s lethal-injection protocol.

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At today’s oral argument in Hernández v. Mesa, the latest chapter in a Mexican family’s effort to hold a U.S. Border Patrol agent liable for the fatal shooting, on Mexican soil, of their 15-year-old son, some of the justices appeared “sympathetic,” as Justice Stephen Breyer put it, to the family’s plight. But at the same time, even the justices who might be predisposed to support the family struggled to articulate a rule that would allow the family’s lawsuit to go forward without also permitting a wide variety of other – perhaps less sympathetic – cases, and they seemed frustrated by the family’s inability to identify such a rule. In the end, though, it’s not clear that the rule will matter, if the justices don’t agree that the Border Patrol agent can be sued in federal court at all.

Robert C. Hilliard arguing for petitioners (Art Lien)

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Argument transcripts

By on Feb 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm

The transcript in Hernández v. Mesa is available here; the transcript in McLane Co. v. EEOC is available here.

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It has now been more than 12 years since the Supreme Court’s landmark opinion in United States v. Booker recast the federal sentencing guidelines as “effectively advisory.” In subsequent cases, the court has clarified and reiterated the breadth of district-judge sentencing discretion within an advisory-guideline system. But on February 28, the court will confront whether mandatory statutory gun-sentencing provisions may limit a district court’s post-Booker sentencing discretion. In Dean v. United States, the justices will decide whether a trial judge, when sentencing a defendant convicted of firearms offenses under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) that carry lengthy consecutive mandatory-minimum terms, may significantly reduce the sentence for underlying predicate offenses because of the severity of the mandated consecutive sentences.

Like many federal defendants, petitioner Levon Dean is not a particularly sympathetic character. In April 2013, Dean (along with various others, including his brother) robbed alleged drug dealers of drugs and other property in Sioux City, Iowa. In each of these robberies, Dean and his brother utilized a modified .22-caliber semiautomatic Mossberg rifle to threaten, intimidate and batter their victims.

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Over the last few years, the Supreme Court has decided a number of criminal-removal cases. Next week, the justices will hear oral argument in another one, Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, which stems from the government’s effort to remove a lawful permanent resident for a “sex crime.”

360px-u-s-_immigration_and_customs_enforcement_ice_logo-svg

The facts of the case sound like an episode of “Law and Order SVU.” In 2000, Juan Esquivel-Quintana’s parents lawfully brought him to the United States and settled in Sacramento, California. When he was 20 years old, Esquivel-Quintana had consensual sex with his 16-year-old girlfriend. He later pleaded no contest to violating California Penal Code § 261.5(c), which criminalizes sex with a person “under the age of 18 years” when the age difference between the parties is more than three years. Esquivel-Quintana was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years’ probation. After his release from jail, he moved from California to Michigan, a state in which the conduct underlying his criminal conviction would not have been a crime.

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Tuesday round-up

By on Feb 21, 2017 at 6:18 am

Today the court returns from its February break to hear oral argument in two cases. First up is Hernández v. Mesa, a case that stems from the cross-border shooting of a Mexican teenager by a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Amy Howe previewed the case for this blog. Another preview comes from Laurel Hopkins and Eugene Temchenko at Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute. The George Washington Law Review’s On the Docket also previews Hernández, along with all the cases in the February sitting. In USA Today, Richard Wolf reports on Hernández, remarking on its possible effect on already fraught “U.S.-Mexico relations.” Additional coverage comes from Mark Sherman for the Associated Press, who observes that the “legal issues are different, but the Supreme Court case resembles the court battle over President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven majority Muslim nations in at least one sense”: “Courts examining both issues are weighing whether foreigners can have their day in U.S. courts.” David Gans in The New Republic argues that Hernández offers the court  “an important opportunity to reaffirm its core constitutional role of keeping the political branches in check, vindicating individual rights, and ensuring that no one is above the law,” and predicts that this “Supreme Court case will come down, as so many do, to Justice Anthony Kennedy.”

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Petition of the day

By on Feb 20, 2017 at 11:23 pm

The petition of the day is:

16-790

Issue: Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit erred in this case by holding that it had no jurisdiction to review the denial of a motion to reopen by the Board of Immigration Appeals, where the review sought was limited to assessing the legal framework upon which the sua sponte request was made.

 

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