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Monday round-up

By on Dec 15, 2014 at 5:49 am

On Friday afternoon the Court issued orders from its Conference earlier that day, granting four new cases.  The highest-profile new grant came in Toca v. Louisiana, in which the Court will consider (among other things) whether its 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama, banning mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles who commit murder, applies retroactively.  Lyle Denniston covered the orders for this blog; other coverage of the grant in Toca came from Adam Liptak of The New York Times and Robert Barnes of The Washington Post.

At big think, Steven Mazie observes that “none of the justices have had much of a chance to live the life of an average American worker” – which, he suggests, may explain why the Court’s recent decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc. v. Busk, holding that workers at a warehouse are not entitled to compensation for time spent in mandatory security screenings, “seems to turn a blind eye to the reality of the working lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.”  And at the Ogletree Deakins blog, Elizabeth Washko analyzes the impact of the decision on retailers.  Continue reading »

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This week at the Court

By on Dec 14, 2014 at 12:01 am

On Monday the Court issued additional orders from the December 12 Conference, which Lyle covered here. No new cases were granted. The views of the Solicitor General were called for in one case. The Justices granted four new cases from the December 12 Conference on Friday afternoon; Lyle reported on those grants.

Following orders, the Court issued opinions in two cases, Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Company, LLC v. Owens and Heien v. North Carolina.

The Justices will meet for their next Conference on January 9.
 
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Petition of the day

By on Dec 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm

The petition of the day is:

14-310
Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, serves as co-counsel to the petitioner in this case.

Issue: Whether, having invalidated the only mechanism the IRS had developed for pursuing refunds of long distance telephone excise taxes unlawfully exacted from individuals, corporations, and non-profit entities between February 28, 2003 and July 31, 2006, the District Court was nevertheless precluded by this Court's decision in Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance from directing the IRS to provide by properly adopted regulation for a workable refund protocol applicable to those taxes.

 
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UPDATED 6:42 p.m.   Taking the same position as state officials have in other same-sex marriage cases, government officials in Ohio on Friday urged the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of state laws against same-sex marriage.  “The country deserves a nationwide answer — one way or the other,” the state’s brief said.  The state defended its ban even while asking the Court to review it.  The Ohio case and the new filing are discussed more fully at the end of the following post.

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The leaders of the two branches of the North Carolina state legislature notified a federal court on Friday that they will ask the Supreme Court to rule promptly on the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.  In a filing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the two legislative leaders — both Republicans — asked the Fourth Circuit to put on hold an appeal they have pending there, because an appeal to the Supreme Court will be made, urging the Justices to bypass the Fourth Circuit.

This is the second case from the geographic region of the Fourth Circuit that is bound for the Supreme Court on a plea to rule before the Fourth Circuit resolves pending appeals.  The other planned petition is by state officials in South Carolina; it has not yet been filed.   The Fourth Circuit has previously struck down a ban in Virginia, and federal judges in North and South Carolina have applied that ruling in nullifying state prohibitions.

Continue reading »

After passing up the issue several times, the Supreme Court agreed today to consider whether its 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama, limiting sentences of life without parole for minors who commit murder, applies retroactively — that is, to inmates whose conviction had become final before the ruling was issued.  However, in taking on that issue, the Court also added a second question that might keep it from deciding the first one.  The new case, Toca v. Louisianawas one of four cases the Court accepted for review; the cases are likely to be argued in late March or early April.

Continue reading »

This week’s argument audio

By on Dec 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Oyez has posted recordings of this week’s oral arguments before the Court.

The Court heard arguments this week in:

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On Wednesday, a subdued Court spent two hours hearing oral arguments in United States v. Wong and United States v. June, considering whether the limitations periods under the Federal Tort Claims Act are jurisdictional or subject to equitable tolling. The Justices asked relatively few questions, allowing all four attorneys to speak uninterrupted for long stretches and to provide lengthy answers to many questions.

The Court heard Wong first, considering the six-month limitations period for filing tort claims against the United States in federal district court following presentment of the claim to an administrative agency. Arguing for the United States, Assistant to the Solicitor General Roman Martinez emphasized that Congress “transplanted” or “cut-and-pasted” the language from the Tucker Act’s limitations period for non-tort monetary claims against the United States into the FTCA’s limitations period. And although neither period uses the word “jurisdiction,” because Congress enacted the FTCA against numerous decisions holding the same language in the Tucker Act jurisdictional and not subject to equitable tolling, it necessarily understood itself to be incorporating that same settled jurisdictional meaning into the FTCA. Martinez repeatedly returned to this point. He also called the FTCA the “second great waiver of sovereign immunity,” on which Congress was very careful to protect government from late claims by enacting a strict limitation on when the government can be sued.

Continue reading »

Friday round-up

By on Dec 12, 2014 at 7:53 am

Yesterday Arizona filed papers asking the Court to step in and block a ruling by the Ninth Circuit striking down the state’s policy of denying driver’s licenses to “dreamers” – undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Circuit Justice for the Ninth Circuit, called for a response to the application by Tuesday afternoon.  Lyle Denniston covered these developments for this blog; other coverage comes from Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services (via the Arizona Capitol Times).

Briefly:

  • Reason.com reprints an excerpt from Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court, a new book by Damon Root.
  • In The New England Journal of Medicine, Nicholas Bagley, David Jones, and Timothy Jost discuss the possible impact of a decision in favor of the challengers in King v. Burwell, the ACA subsidies case.

 A friendly reminder:  We rely on our readers to send us links for the round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com.

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Petition of the day

By on Dec 11, 2014 at 10:11 pm

The petition of the day is:

14-391

Issue: (1) Whether a political committee that makes highly restricted direct contributions has a First Amendment right to engage in unrestricted non-contribution activities through a separate and segregated non-contribution account; and (2) whether the First Amendment forbids a government from restricting political speech based on the disclosure interest – an interest in providing the electorate with information about the sources of election-related spending – including when a more narrowly tailored remedy is available.

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