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Petitions to Watch | Conference of 9.29.09 (Part II)

This is the second edition of  “Petitions to Watch”  featuring cases up for consideration at the Justices’ opening conference of September 29. Because of the great number of petitions to be considered on the summer list, we’ll have multiple installations leading up to the “long conference.” As always, the list contains the petitions on the Court’s paid docket that Tom has deemed to have a reasonable chance of being granted.   Links to previous editions are also available in our archives on SCOTUSwiki.

Docket: 08-1291
Title: Tucker, et al. v. Hardin County, Tennessee, et al.
Issue: Whether in a case seeking damages for failure to provide a reasonable accommodation under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the plaintiff must prove “intentional discrimination,” “personal animus” underlying the failure to accommodate, “deliberate indifference to a recognized federal right,” intentional discrimination, or simply :failure to accommodate” ; whether, under Title II, the “effectiveness” of “auxiliary aid” proved by a public entity is a question of law or a question of fact.

Docket: 08-1301
Title: Carr v. United States
Issue: Whether a person may be criminally prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. § 2250 for failure to register when the defendant’s underlying offense and travel in interstate commerce both predated the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act’s enactment ; whether the Ex Post Facto Clause precludes prosecution under § 2250(a) of a person whose underlying offense and travel in interstate commerce both predated SORNA’s enactment.

Docket: 08-1314
Title: Williamson, et al v. Mazda Motor of America, Inc., et al.
Issue: . Where Congress has provided that compliance with a federal motor vehicle safety standard “does not exempt a person from liability at common law,” 49 U.S.C. § 30103(e), does a federal minimum safety standard allowing vehicle manufacturers to install either lap-only or lap/shoulder seatbelts in certain seating positions preempt a state common-law claim alleging that the manufacturer should have installed a lap/shoulder belt in one of those seating positions? Under Wyeth v. Levine, does a federal motor vehicle safety standard allowing vehicle manufacturers to install either lap-only or lap/shoulder seatbelts impliedly preempt a state tort suit alleging that the manufacturer should have warned consumers of the known dangers of a lap-only seatbelt installed in one of its vehicles?

Docket: 08-1322 ; 08-1335 (not vided by the Supreme Court, but consolidated at oral argument by the Eighth Circuit)
Title: Astrue v. Ratliff ; Astrue v. Wilson
Issue: Whether an “award of fees and other expenses” under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2412(d), is payable to the “prevailing party” rather than to the prevailing party’s attorney, and therefore is subject to an offset for a pre-existing debt owed by the prevailing party to the United States.



Docket: 08-1328
Title: Greenwell v. Parsley
Issue: Is the First Amendment implicated when a public employee is fired for announcing his candidacy for elected office (the petitioner’s boss’s job, in this case)?

Docket: 08-1341
Title: United States v. Marcus
Issue: Whether the court of appeals departed from the Court’s interpretation of Rule 52(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure by adopting as the appropriate standard for plain-error review of an asserted ex post facto violation whether “there is any possibility, no matter how unlikely, that the jury could have convicted based exclusively on pre-enactment conduct.”

Docket: 08-1350
Title: Ryan, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections v. Styers
Issue: Under the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), when a State’s highest court states it has considered proffered mitigation evidence, must a habeas reviewing court accept that statement, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary? Did the Ninth Circuit err in holding that Smith v. Texas (2004) forbids a sentencer from relying on the absence of a causal nexus between an alleged mental condition and the crime committed in deciding how much weight to give the proffered mitigation evidence?

Docket: 08-1351
Title: Frazier v. Smith, Commissioner, Florida Department of Education, et al.
Issue: Whether a state statute requiring parental consent for minor students in public elementary, middle and high schools to be excused from a classroom Pledge of Allegiance recitation is facially unconstitutional?

Docket: 08-1358
Title: Holmes v. Louisiana
Issue: Whether the operation of Louisiana’s capital punishment scheme and the State Supreme Court’s proportionality review violate the Eighth Amendment’s guarantee against arbitrariness in capital sentencing.

Docket: 08-1379
Title: Gonzalez v. City of Deerfield Beach, Florida
Issue: Whether an emergency medical technician or rescue supervisor who does not actually engage in any fire suppression activities can be said to have the “responsibility to engage in fire suppression” within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 203(y)(1).