Argument transcripts

By on Oct 3, 2017 at 3:31 pm

The transcript in Gill v. Whitford is here; the transcript in Jennings v. Rodriguez is here.

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Today may have been only the second day of the Supreme Court’s new term, but it may also prove to be one of the biggest. The justices heard oral argument in Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to the redistricting plan passed by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2011. A federal court struck down the plan last year, agreeing with the plaintiffs that it violated the Constitution because it was the product of partisan gerrymandering – that is, the practice of purposely drawing district lines to favor one party and put another at a disadvantage. After roughly an hour of oral argument this morning, the justices seemed to agree that partisan gerrymandering is, as Justice Samuel Alito acknowledged, “distasteful.” But there was no apparent agreement about whether courts could or should get involved in policing the practice.

Misha Tseytlin at lectern arguing for appellants (Art Lien)

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Yesterday, the first day of the October 2017 term, the justices heard oral argument in Sessions v. Dimaya, a void-for-vagueness challenge to a criminal-removal provision of the U.S. immigration laws. As I explained in my preview of the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had relied on the Supreme Court’s opinion in Johnson v. United States to find unconstitutionally vague a provision making a “crime of violence,” as defined in the immigration statute’s “residual clause,” 18 U.S.C. § 16(b), an “aggravated felony” subjecting an immigrant to mandatory removal. In so doing, the court of appeals rejected an immigration court’s conclusion that James Garcia Dimaya, neither of whose two burglary convictions involved violence, had been convicted of a “crime of violence” and had to be removed from the United States.

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October 10 will be Hamer Time at the Supreme Court. In Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, the justices will consider whether a rule limiting court-granted extensions of time to file a notice of appeal to 30 days beyond the original appeal date creates a limit on the jurisdiction of the court of appeals or is a nonjurisdictional claim-processing rule that was waived, forfeited or subject to equitable exception.

Facts and legal background

In 2012, Charmaine Hamer was terminated from her position as intake specialist for the Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago and Fannie Mae’s Mortgage Help Center. She filed a pro se action in federal district court, alleging violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the district court appointed counsel to represent her. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants on September 14, 2015. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2107(a) and Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(1)(A), Hamer had 30 days, until October 14, to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

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Tuesday round-up

By on Oct 3, 2017 at 7:15 am

This morning the court hears oral argument in two cases. The first is Gill v. Whitford, in which the justices will decide whether Wisconsin’s electoral maps are the product of an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Amy Howe had this blog’s preview. Leonardo Mangat and Douglas Wagner preview the case for Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. Coverage of Whitford comes from Nina Totenberg at NPR and Michael Wines in The New York Times, who reports that a “decisive ruling striking down the Wisconsin Assembly map could invalidate redistricting maps in up to 20 other states,” and from Steven Mazie at The Economist’s Espresso blog. Today’s episode of More Perfect (podcast) features a discussion of Whitford.

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A challenge to two Missouri abortion requirements has ended its trip to the Supreme Court – at least for now. Attorneys for Planned Parenthood notified the Supreme Court tonight that they were withdrawing their request to block a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit after that court ruled in the group’s favor. Today’s order means that a decision by a federal district judge that blocked the state from enforcing two of its abortion requirements can go into effect while the state appeals the district court’s ruling.

Planned Parenthood argues that two of the state’s abortion requirements violate the Constitution: the requirement that physicians providing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic and the requirement that abortion facilities be licensed as surgical centers. As a result of the requirements, Planned Parenthood contends, there are only two facilities providing abortions in Missouri, which “imposes enormous burdens on women” seeking abortions in the state, particularly women who are poor, have medical conditions or are victims of abuse.

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Petition of the day

By on Oct 2, 2017 at 8:20 pm

The petition of the day is:

17-340

Issues: (1) Whether a dispute over applicability of the Federal Arbitration Act’s Section 1 exemption is an arbitrability issue that must be resolved in arbitration pursuant to a valid delegation clause; and (2) whether the FAA’s Section 1 exemption, which applies on its face only to “contracts of employment,” is inapplicable to independent contractor agreements.

Argument transcripts

By on Oct 2, 2017 at 5:38 pm

The transcript is Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis is here; the transcript in Sessions v. Dimaya is here.

Posted in Merits Cases
 
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Last week the Supreme Court issued orders from the justices’ private conference on September 25 – often known as the “long conference” because the justices are returning from their summer recess and must review all of the petitions that have accrued in their absence. Today the justices issued a second set of orders from that conference. The justices invited the U.S. solicitor general to file a brief expressing the views of the federal government in three cases, and they denied review – without comment – in thousands of cases.

The first nine pages of the 75-page order list contained a variety of orders, ranging from “GVRs” – in which the court grants review, vacates the decision below, and sends the case back to the lower court for further consideration, usually in light of an intervening Supreme Court decision – to denials of motions to file petitions for review after the deadline has passed. Perhaps most notably, the court also called for the views of the U.S. solicitor general (known as a “CVSG”) in three cases. This is a fairly common practice in cases in which the federal government is not involved, but the justices still want its input – for example, when the interpretation of a federal law is at issue.

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In the first oral argument of the new term, a divided Supreme Court seemed likely to uphold employment agreements that require an employee to resolve a dispute with an employer through individual arbitration, waiving the possibility of proceeding collectively. The conflict among the justices could be captured by two exchanges this morning. The first came when Chief Justice John Roberts, in a back-and-forth with University of Virginia law professor Daniel Ortiz, who represented one of the employees in the case, observed that a decision in favor of Ortiz’s client would invalidate employment agreements covering 25 million people – a step that several of the justices would be reluctant to take, particularly given the court’s strong support of arbitration in recent years. Justice Stephen Breyer, on the other hand, had a very different concern: He told Paul Clement, who represented the employers in the case, that he had not seen a path for Clement’s clients to win without “undermining and changing radically” the labor laws that are the “entire heart of the New Deal.”

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