Petition of the day

By on Nov 14, 2014 at 10:22 pm

The petition of the day is:


Issue: (1) Whether a convicted offender has a clearly established constitutional right – sufficient to defeat qualified immunity – to separate judicial pronouncement of mandatory post-release supervision; and (2) whether, absent a definitive ruling from this Court, a federal court of appeals’ habeas ruling could clearly establish such a right without regard to contrary rulings by state courts of coordinate jurisdiction.

UPDATED 4:49 p.m.  A second petition focusing on recognition of already-married couples has now been filed, from Tennessee.  It raises an additional issue: whether the ban on recognition violates married couples’ right to travel between the states.  The petition, docketed as 14-562, is Tanco v. Haslam.   If other petitions are filed at the Court this evening or over the weekend, they will not be docketed until Monday.


Claiming that the federal appeals court ruling that interrupted the string of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage was “riddled with flaws,” four married couples and two surviving spouses of same-sex marriages on Friday filed the first Supreme Court challenge to that ruling.  (The case has been docketed as 14-556.)

Although the joint petition in two Ohio cases technically raised only the question of the power of states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that already exist, the document ranged over all of the key issues that are likely to be decisive not only on that issue, but also on the question of new same-sex marriages.  Other petitions, including ones from Kentucky and Michigan, on the right-to-marry issue are expected to be filed shortly, perhaps later today.

Continue reading »

Ruling that the Obama administration has gone as far as it needed to avoid intruding on the religious beliefs of non-profit colleges, hospitals, and charities, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday upheld the latest version of the birth control mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The decision is one of several by federal courts in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last June in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, giving for-profit businesses owned by a small group of religiously devout individuals an exemption from the mandate.

The new rulings are coming in the second round of challenges — by non-profit religious institutions.  The first of those cases has already reached the Supreme Court in the case of University of Notre Dame v. Burwell – a case that could be ready for the Justices to consider during the current Term.  The government is due to reply to the appeal in that case early next month.

Continue reading »

Relist Watch

By on Nov 14, 2014 at 8:42 am

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted cases.

With the noisy midterms firmly behind us, we can at last breathe easy and turn our attention to more pressing matters. Like net neutrality, or climate change, or the proliferating parodies of that 10 Hours Walking in NYC video. Or, for those more easily offended/less voyeuristically inclined, there’s Relist Watch – the Internet’s One-Stop Source for Ennui.

In light of our forthcoming day of public thanksgiving, let’s start with something for which to be thankful: last week’s Conference proved to be a veritable horn of plenty for last week’s relists. On Friday, the Court granted cert. in a duo of one-time relists – Chen v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 13-10400, is the high-profile one, asking whether Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m) gives a district court the discretion to extend the time for service of process absent a showing of good cause. The other case asks involves one of those obscure questions that is unlikely to draw much attention outside the specialized sliver of the bar it affects. What was it again? Oh yes — King v. Burwell, 14-114, asking whether the Affordable Care Act’s federal tax-credit subsidies for health insurance purchased through an “Exchange established by the State” also apply to insurance policies purchased through federal exchanges. Thus, aside from the cases granted out of the Long Conference, the Court appears to be firmly adhering to its practice of relisting cases at least once to perform a “quality check” before granting them. Continue reading »


Friday round-up

By on Nov 14, 2014 at 6:54 am

Last week’s announcement that the Court will review King v. Burwell, presenting the question whether tax subsidies are available to individuals who purchase their health insurance on an exchange operated by the federal government, continues to dominate coverage and commentary.  At the Washington Legal Foundation’s Legal Pulse Blog, Richard Samp observes that, if the Court were to agree with the challengers, its decision would “have an impact on the ACA every bit as great as a decision striking down the individual mandate,” but he “emphasize[s] major distinctions between the two cases.”  And John Harwood of CNBC contends that, “[b]y accepting a legal challenge based on a poorly drafted passage of the Obamacare statute, the justices have placed themselves in a political vise grip.” Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up

Petition of the day

By on Nov 13, 2014 at 10:15 pm

The petition of the day is:


Issue: Whether a conspiracy to commit extortion requires that the conspirators agree to obtain property from someone outside the conspiracy.


The Obama administration on Wednesday told a federal appeals court now reviewing the scope of subsidies to help people buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act that it will soon ask that the case be put on hold while the Supreme Court reviews the same controversy.

The plan came in the form of a motion seeking a delay of a filing deadline in a case in which a federal judge in Oklahoma had ruled that the federal subsidies cannot be provided to consumers who obtain health insurance at a marketplace set up and run by the federal government, but only on such an exchange run by a state government.   The government has now appealed that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Continue reading »

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, gave a strong hint on Wednesday afternoon that they probably had cast votes to grant review of same-sex marriage cases in recent weeks, but could not persuade enough of their colleagues to do so.

In a separate opinion they issued in a case having nothing to do with the marriage controversy, Justice Thomas wrote that, “for reasons that escape me,” the Court had not agreed to review lower court decisions striking down state bans on same-sex marriage laws.  He cited four denials of review that had occurred on October 6, and two refusals to postpone such lower-court rulings in other states.  In none of those instances had the Court revealed how the Justices had voted, and there were no recorded dissents.

Continue reading »

The Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon refused to block a federal appeals court ruling striking down an amendment to the Arizona constitution that prohibits the pretrial release of undocumented immigrants charged with serious crimes.

The Court was dealing at this point only with a plea by Arizona officials to delay the ruling at issue, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the order did not give an explanation for refusing that request.  However, two Justices indicated in a separate opinion that the likely reason was that there was no real chance that at least four members of the Court — the minimum number needed — would agree to hear an appeal by the state when it is formally filed.

Continue reading »

More Posts: More Recent PostsOlder Posts
Term Snapshot