The petition of the day is:
Issue: Whether federal due process requires state-court judges, in reviewing jury-awarded punitive damages for constitutional excessiveness, to: (1) use de novo review to set punitive damages at the level they find appropriate, without viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, based on Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Leatherman Tool Group, Inc., as courts in at least seven states (including the court below) hold; or, instead, (2) use the rational-factfinder test of Jackson v. Virginia viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and upholding the maximum amount a rational jury could award on the record so viewed (measured by the relevant legal guideposts), based on Honda Motor Co. v. Oberg, as courts in at least five states hold.
With the start of the October Term 2014 less than two weeks away, coverage of the Court focuses on looking ahead at the Court’s caseload. In USA Today, Richard Wolf previews three cases on the Court’s docket that “will bring the delicate issue of religion back to the court chamber, along with questions about politics, public safety and Middle East peace.” The AARP Foundation Litigation has released its preview of the upcoming Term, focusing on merits cases and cert. petitions that could affect Americans over the age of fifty, while at ThinkProgress Ian Millhiser and Nicole Flatow preview “six major cases the justices will consider this term, as well as a short list of issues they stand a good chance of taking up before the term is over.” Continue reading »
The petition of the day is:
Issue: (1) Whether the False Claims Act’s pre-2010 “public-disclosure bar,” 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4) (2009), prohibits claims that are “substantially similar” to prior public disclosures, or instead bars a claim only if the plaintiff’s knowledge “actually derives” from prior disclosures; (2) whether the False Claims Act’s “first-to-file” bar, 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(5), precludes a later-filed action that is based on the same facts as an earlier-filed action only so long as the earlier case is still pending; and (3) whether the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3287, suspends the limitations period for civil claims, such as a False Claims Act claim brought by a private party.
A state judge in Louisiana, ordering state officials to treat as legal the California wedding of a same-sex couple, has struck down a state ban on such marriages — the same ban that was upheld in federal court earlier this month. The federal case is now awaiting an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where state officials want it reviewed by the same panel that will rule on a Texas ban that has been nullified.
The situation in Louisiana has now become somewhat muddled, although the conflicting rulings are by different courts — one state, one federal. In a ruling on Monday that has just been made public, state District Court Judge Edward D. Rubin found unconstitutional a 2004 state constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, as well as state laws also imposing a ban and refusing to recognize such marriages performed elsewhere.
Continue reading »
UPDATED 4:57 p.m. This post has been updated by Lyle Denniston with background material on the proposed settlement.
Today the Court ordered the parties in Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi v. IndyMac MBS, Inc., to file new, ten-page briefs addressing the possibility that the case could become moot. The Court granted review in the case in early March to consider the statute of limitations for securities class actions, and oral argument is currently scheduled for October 6, the first day of the Court’s new Term. But today’s order directs both sides to file simultaneous briefs, due by noon on Thursday, on “the effect, if any, of the proposed settlement agreement now pending before the district court.” Details of the proposed settlement were not available, but it presumably calls for the dismissal of the case, which would moot the Supreme Court proceedings. Because the order refers to a “proposed” settlement, there may be open questions about if and when the case will be resolved, including because of the need for approval of a class action settlement. Continue reading »
In six days, the Justices will convene for the first private Conference since late June. Among the petitions scheduled for consideration at the September 29 Conference are the seven petitions arising out of challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage. In The New York Times, Adam Liptak looks at efforts by different lawyers involved in the cases to portray their case as the one best suited for the Court’s review; he observes that “[t]he jockeying among the titans of the Supreme Court bar for a place at the lectern when the justices hear the next same-sex marriage case is as understated as it is unmistakable.” Lisa Keen considers similar questions in a post at the Keen News Service, adding that – based on recent comments by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – although the Justices will have seven cases before them, they “may not choose any of those seven for review.” Continue reading »
The petition of the day is:
Issue: (1) Whether it is error for a federal appellate court to undertake the same analysis for penalty phase prejudice in capital cases arising from both weighing states, where juries impose death sentences only after determining that aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating factors, and non-weighing states, where juries are instructed that they may return a sentence less than death for any reason or no reason at all, even after finding a statutory aggravator; and (2) whether the Eleventh Circuit violated the Eighth Amendment by improperly “weighing” aggravation against mitigation evidence in Mr. Bishop’s case rather than applying the non-weighing prejudice test consistent with Georgia’s capital sentencing statute articulated in Zant v. Stephens.
- At BuzzFeed, Chris Geidner discusses the possibility that, after the Justices first consider the seven petitions arising out of challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage at their September 29 Conference, the Court could ask the federal government to file a brief weighing in; he suggests that doing so “could be just the — thus far missing — step the court needs to give it the time to put the pieces in place that it has decided it needs before it takes on” the issue.
- In the Los Angeles Times, David Savage reports that, although Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “is at the height of her influence and public acclaim, . . . she also faces a decision that may be the most consequential of her career: Should she retire when the term ends in June so President Obama can name her successor?”
- At Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost reviews American Justice 2014: Nine Clashing Visions on the Supreme Court, a new book by Garrett Epps that “profil[es] each justice through the lens of the justice’s most distinctive opinion of the term.”
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The petition of the day is:
Issue: (1) Whether, when a police officer approaches a residence to conduct a “knock and talk,” the Fourth Amendment requires the officer to go to the “front door” even where it reasonably appears that some other entrance is also customarily used by visitors; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in holding that such a rule was “clearly established” for purposes of qualified immunity.
It is almost a joy to read the papers in Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi v. IndyMac MBS, Inc., with David Frederick squaring off against Ted Olson. The issue sounds tedious at first – whether the filing of a securities class action tolls the statute of limitations for all members of the asserted class. But it takes only a moment of reflection to realize how much is at stake. Suppose a securities class action alleges a class with hundreds of members (not at all uncommon), and suppose that litigation over certification lasts three to four years (again, not at all uncommon). Now suppose that certification is denied, and the class members now start to file their own individual suits, responding to the failure of the class action. But even if the class action was filed promptly after the incident giving rise to the litigation (not at all a foregone conclusion), it is likely that in many (most?) cases the statutes of limitations would have expired for the individual potential plaintiffs long before the conclusion of litigation over certification. What that means is that the potential plaintiffs who want to protect themselves must file separately, before the limitations period expires, to protect their right to sue after certification is resolved. Can that be right? That is what this case is about. Continue reading »