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On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will first hear oral argument in Maine Community Health Options v. U.S. Click to read our preview from Amy Howe.
Also on Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Holguin-Hernandez v. U.S. Click to read our preview from Rory Little.
There is a possibility of opinions both Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

This morning the Supreme Court issued orders from the justices’ December 6 conference. The justices did not add any new cases to their merits docket for the term.

The justices declined to take up the case of Louie Schexnayder, a Louisiana inmate who was sentenced to life in prison for the stabbing death of Eugene Price. After Schexnayder’s direct appeals were finished, he unsuccessfully sought state and then federal post-conviction relief. In 2008, after those efforts had concluded, a suicide note from an official in the state court where Schexnayder had filed his post-conviction applications revealed that the court had a practice of denying all pro se prisoner applications (like Schexnayder’s) without any review by a judge. A state court reviewed Schexnayder’s application again, and again denied it. A federal district court then denied Schenxnayder’s plea for federal post-conviction relief, following the rule of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that federal courts will not consider constitutional challenges to state post-conviction proceedings, even when the results of such proceedings are “beyond regrettable.” The 5th Circuit declined to review Schexnayder’s appeal, and today the justices turned down a petition filed by Schexnayder, who is now represented by counsel. Continue reading »

Arizona Supreme Court

It has been nearly 30 years since James McKinney and his half-brother killed two people while robbing the victims at their homes. A judge in Arizona sentenced McKinney to death, but in 2015 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit threw out McKinney’s death sentence. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the dispute between McKinney and the state over how his case should proceed.

McKinney was convicted by a jury for the 1991 murders of Christine Mertens and Jim McClain, but he was sentenced to death by a judge. Although McKinney’s lawyers offered evidence that McKinney suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the horrific abuse that he experienced as a child, the judge did not take that evidence into account when making his decision, because the law in effect at the time barred him from considering mitigating evidence that was not linked to the cause of the crime. Continue reading »


Monday round-up

By on Dec 9, 2019 at 6:50 am

This morning the Supreme Court begins the second week of the December session with oral arguments in two cases. First up is Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr, which asks whether courts can review a request for equitable tolling of the deadline to file a statutory motion to reopen as a question of law, or whether it is a question of fact that cannot be reviewed. Kit Johnson previewed the case for this blog. Kayla Anderson and Soo Min Ko have a preview at Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Center.

Today’s second oral argument is in Thryv v. Click-to-Call Technologies, LP, in which the court will decide whether federal patent law allows an appeal of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision to institute a procedure for challenging the validity of a patent after a finding that a one-year time bar does not apply. This blog’s preview came from John Duffy. David Relihan and Jingyi Alice Yao preview the case for Cornell.

Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up

This week at the court

By on Dec 8, 2019 at 12:00 pm

On Monday, the Supreme Court released additional orders from the December 6 conference, adding no new new cases to the merits docket and calling for the views of the solicitor general in HSBC Holdings v. Picard. The justices heard oral argument in Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr and Thryv, Inc. v. Click-To-Call Technologies, LP.

On Tuesday, there is a possibility of opinions at 10:00 a.m. The justices will then hear oral argument in Maine Community Health Options v. U.S. and Holguin-Hernandez v. U.S.

On Wednesday, there is a possibility of opinions at 10:00 a.m. The justices will then hear oral argument in Monasky v. Taglieri and McKinney v. Arizona.

On Friday, the justices will meet for their December 13 conference.


Tonight the Supreme Court turned down a request from the federal government to allow the executions of four federal inmates to go forward. The first execution, of inmate Daniel Lee, had originally been scheduled for next Monday morning, but the government urged the justices to allow the executions to proceed, even if it would mean that the inmates would be executed while their appeals were still pending.

The government came to the Supreme Court on Monday of this week, after a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., barred the government from going forward with the executions. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that federal law requires the government to conduct executions using the exact same protocol, rather than simply the same method of execution, as the state where the execution is taking place. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected the government’s request to stay or vacate Chutkan’s order, leading to the government’s filing this week.

Continue reading »

UPDATED: Shortly after 6 p.m., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put the 2nd Circuit’s ruling on hold until next Friday, December 13, at 5 p.m. Ginsburg’s order gives the justices time to rule on Trump’s request for a longer stay of the lower court’s decision while he files a petition for review. Ginsburg ordered the House of Representatives to file a response to Trump’s request by 11 a.m. on Wednesday, December 11. 

Yesterday President Donald Trump filed a petition at the Supreme Court asking the justices to quash a subpoena to Mazars, his longtime accounting firm, for his financial records. The case is Trump’s second request in less than a month for the court’s help in his battle to shield his financial records and tax documents. At their private conference next week, the justices are scheduled to consider Trump’s petition for review of a lower-court ruling that would require him to turn over tax records to Manhattan’s district attorney, who is seeking them as part of a grand-jury investigation. This afternoon Trump added a third filing, this time asking the justices to block a lower-court ruling that upheld subpoenas for Trump’s financial records to Deutsche Bank, which has long been Trump’s biggest lender, and Capital One. Continue reading »

Oyez has posted the aligned audio and transcripts from this week’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court. The court heard argument this week in:

Posted in Merits Cases

This afternoon the Supreme Court issued orders from the justices’ private conference earlier in the day. The justices added just one new case to their merits docket for the term: Carney v. Adams, a challenge to the constitutionality of a Delaware law that limits the number of judges affiliated with a particular political party to a “bare majority.” The plaintiff in the case, James Adams, is a retired lawyer who contends that the requirement violates his First Amendment right to be considered for public office without regard to his political affiliation. The justices also instructed the parties to address a threshold question: whether Adams has a legal right to sue at all.

The case is likely to be argued in the spring, with a decision by summer.

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

Under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a child who is wrongfully removed from her country of “habitual residence” must be returned to that country. By requiring the child’s return, so that the courts in the country of “habitual residence” can make any decisions about custody, the convention aims to deter parents from abducting their children to another country, particularly if the parents believe that they will fare better in the courts in the new country. This “automatic return” rule means that a U.S. court reviewing a case brought under the Hague Convention must make a critical determination, on which the outcome of the proceeding often hinges: Where is the child’s habitual residence? Next week, the Supreme Court will consider two questions related to the determination of habitual residence. First, what standard should a federal appeals court use to review a district court’s determination? And when determining the habitual residence of an infant, who is too young to know where she is or otherwise acclimate to her surroundings, should courts require an agreement between the parents about where they will raise their child? The Supreme Court will consider these questions next week. Continue reading »


It probably was not a good sign for Texas in Banister v. Davis, a technical post-conviction habeas case with potentially major ramifications, that some of the most skeptical questions at Wednesday’s argument came from Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Indeed, by the end of the 59-minute argument session, there appeared to be at least six votes for the conclusion that Texas state prisoner Gregory Dean Banister did not file a “second-or-successive” habeas petition when he timely moved under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to amend the district court’s judgment rejecting his first federal post-conviction suit. And although that result may not ultimately change the outcome of Banister’s individual quest for collateral post-conviction relief, it would avoid a significant decision narrowing the available avenues for federal post-conviction relief for state and federal prisoners alike.

Brian T. Burgess for petitioner (Art Lien)

Continue reading »

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