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.


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:

Posted in Everything Else

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).


  • 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.

Posted in Round-up

Petition of the day

By on Dec 11, 2014 at 10:11 pm

The petition of the day is:


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.

Relist Watch

By on Dec 11, 2014 at 5:00 pm

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted cases.

Happy holidays, dear readers! And welcome to the penultimate Relist Watch of 2014. While our nine judges judging haven’t quite achieved the festive spirit of their counterparts to the north (who, after all, live in what was until recently the home of the magnetic North Pole), the Court has dug deep into its bag of gifts and emerged with toys, trinkets, treats, and the odd lump of coal for its practitioners – all of which we, your cheerful correspondents, have the good fortune to announce. Continue reading »


UPDATED 5:31 p.m.   Justice Kennedy has called for a response to this application, to be filed by noon (Eastern time) next Tuesday, December 16.


State officials in Arizona, seeking to block undocumented immigrants from getting driver’s licenses even if they have been spared from deportation, asked the Supreme Court today to examine new Obama administration moves on immigration policy.  This marked the first time that the Court has been drawn into the tense national debate over President Obama’s actions on immigration without waiting for Congress to act on a new law.

The Arizona application (14A625) is here; a challenged decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is here.  A federal district court ruling in the case is here.

Continue reading »


Lawyers for both parties faced skeptical questioning in Tuesday’s arguments in Gelboim v. Bank of America. Tasked with deciding the appealability of a decision dismissing all claims in an action that is part of a consolidated MDL action, the Court considered competing approaches that exposed questions about the meaning and scope of particular rules and that may or may not make much practical difference.


Continue reading »

Tax systems treat taxpayers differently all the time, and the central question before the Court in Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation is when a difference in treatment amounts to a violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 (the “4-R Act”). This is the second time this case has been before the Court, and Tuesday’s oral argument made it clear that the Court was looking for a way to avoid having this case return for a third time.

The Court seemed inclined to agree with CSX that an assessment whether there has been discrimination should be based on a comparison with a taxpayer’s competitors rather than with other businesses in general. On a second issue – how a court should conduct this discrimination analysis vis-à-vis competitors – the Court seemed more divided. On the one hand, the Court seemed very aware of how difficult it is to analyze how an entire state tax system treats two taxpayers. Yet several of the Justices also seemed troubled that the Eleventh Circuit had not analyzed at all whether a facial discrimination was justified, which seems to ignore the complicated reality of state tax systems altogether. This second concern suggests that a remand might be appropriate. However, another remand in this case did not appear to be a desirable outcome, especially because the Court would then need to give some guidance to the court of appeals as to how to take sufficient notice of the complexities of state taxes without having courts drown in these complexities.

Continue reading »

More Posts: More Recent PostsOlder Posts
Term Snapshot