Tuesday round-up

By on Apr 22, 2014 at 7:11 am

Today the Court will hear oral arguments in two highly anticipated cases.  In Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, the Court will consider a First Amendment challenge to an Ohio law that criminalizes false political statements. Lyle Denniston previewed the case for this blog.  Other coverage comes from Katie Barlow and Nina Totenberg at NPR, while in his “Drama at the Court” series for ISCOTUSnow, Christopher Schmidt looks back at United States v. Alvarez, a recent case in which the Court struck down criminal penalties for lying about military honors.  In American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, the Court will consider whether Aereo’s streaming of broadcast television programs over the Internet violates federal copyright laws.  Lyle Denniston previewed the case for this blog, while I did the same in Plain English and Kali Borkoski added a discussion (audio) with some of the players in the case.   Other coverage of the Aereo case comes from Nina Totenberg at NPR (audio), Bloomberg TV, and Edward Lee at ISCOTUSnow (video).  Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up

Petition of the day

By on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:16 pm

The petition of the day is:

US Foods, Inc. v. Catholic Healthcare West

Issue: (1) Whether contract-expectation damages are a permissible remedy in a civil RICO action based on alleged fraud, and if so, whether such damages are available even where any expectation was created only by the alleged fraudulent conduct; (2) whether but-for causation in a civil RICO class action may be satisfied by a class-wide presumption of reliance on alleged fraudulent conduct in the absence of any individualized proof that any member of the class actually relied on that conduct; and (3) whether a nationwide class asserting state-law claims under multiple state laws may be certified under Rule 23(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in the absence of any showing that the state laws at issue are uniformly interpreted and applied.

Click below to listen to Chet Kanojia, Aereo’s founder and CEO, Brenda Cotter, Aereo’s General Counsel, and former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, advisor to the broadcasters, discuss the upcoming oral argument. Continue reading »

For those of us who grew up adjusting the rabbit ears on our seventies-era televisions (and having to get up to change the channel to one of the other four or five available stations – no remote controls!), the service offered by Aereo, Inc., is nothing short of miraculous.  For just eight dollars a month, you get the ability to start watching a TV program – say, the Super Bowl – live on your iPhone while you are out of your house.  When you get home, you can pick up seamlessly where you left off on your television or desktop computer.  Or, you can record the entire program on a remote DVR assigned to you and watch the whole thing later on.

What could possibly be wrong with Aereo’s business model?  For ABC and the rest of the broadcast television industry, pretty much everything.  In their view, Aereo is blatantly violating federal copyright laws (and possibly jeopardizing the entire broadcast industry) by streaming live TV over the Internet without paying the networks for the right to do so.  Aereo counters that everything it does is completely legal:  the TV programs that it makes available are already broadcast for free over the public airwaves; Aereo is just making it easier and more efficient for its subscribers to watch those programs.  Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from both sides of the dispute, with a decision expected by summer.  Here’s the lowdown on American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., in Plain English.  Continue reading »

Picking up on thoughts from a lower federal court judge, Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer on Monday sketched the outlines of an issue that could be the basis for a new challenge to long-term detention by those held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  The thrust of it would be an individual’s claim that he actually never engaged in armed hostilities against the U.S. or its allies overseas.

Breyer spoke out in a separate opinion, representing so far only his own views, as the Court denied review of the case of a Yemeni national who has been held at Guantanamo for nearly twelve years; Abdul al Qader Ahmed Hussain was captured in Pakistan in March 2002 when he was eighteen years old.  (The case was Hussain v. Obama.)

Continue reading »

The Supreme Court spent most of a half-hour on Monday staying entirely away from a pitfall in the law that governs debt collection, but then that trap suddenly opened widely, and nearly swallowed the case of Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital Ltd.  What made the difference? The Court began worrying a lot about the identity of the debtor — the sovereign nation of Argentina.

To a remarkable extent, this was an argument in which the front half and the second half did not seem to be on the same page.  In the end, though, it appeared that the second part might well turn out to be controlling, and Argentina could get some special treatment as a debtor — because it is a nation, not an ordinary debtor.

Continue reading »

Today’s transcripts

By on Apr 21, 2014 at 1:00 pm

The transcript in POM Wonderful LLC v. The Coca-Cola Company is available here.

The transcript in Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital  is available here.

Posted in Merits Cases

FINAL UPDATE:  3:31 p.m.  Expanded from an earlier version.

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to rule on whether the president has the sole power to decide on the nature of the U.S. government’s formal relations with Israel.  That issue arises out of a dispute between the White House and Congress over whether Israel should be noted as the place of birth of a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem.  At issue is the constitutionality of a 2002 law mandating Israel as the place-of-birth designation in that situation, if requested. (The case is Zivotofsky v. Kerry.)

The Court granted two other cases, the first dealing with the constitutional implications of a police traffic stop that turned out to be based upon a mistake by the officers (Heien v. North Carolina), and the second focusing on whether possession of a shotgun with a short barrel should be treated as a violent felony for purposes of federal criminal sentencing (Johnson v. United States).

For the nineteenth time this Term, the Court took no action Monday on the case of Ryan v. Hurles, testing when a federal court may overturn a state criminal conviction for failure to hold a hearing to weigh evidence on a key legal issue.  The Court has considered that case at every one of its private Conferences since late September. Continue reading »

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