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Notable Petitions

On a regular basis, we intend to post recently filed petitions that Tom deems noteworthy. Each will later appear on one of our “Petitions to Watch” lists — and will together constitute the bulk of those lists — depending on the conference it is eventually distributed for.

Two such interesting petitions have been filed recently: No. 09-920, Simmons v. Galvin, and No. 09-923, Arar v. Ashcroft.  In both cases, briefs in opposition have not yet been filed, and likely will not be until next month at the earliest.

Title: Simmons v. Galvin
Docket: 09-920
Issues: (1) Whether Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“VRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1973, applies to state felon disenfranchisement laws that result in discrimination on the basis of race; and (2) whether the Massachusetts felon disenfranchisement scheme established in 2000 violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution as applied to those Massachusetts felons who were incarcerated and yet had the right to vote prior to 2000?

Title: Arar v. Ashcroft
Docket: 09-923
Issues: (1) Whether federal officials accused of conspiring with foreign officials to subject an individual in U.S. custody to torture may be sued for damages, particularly when the federal officials also intentionally obstructed the victim’s access to the judicial remedy provided by Congress to prevent torture; (2) whether willful participation in joint action with government officials is insufficient to constitute action under “color of law” of that jurisdiction, within the meaning of the Torture Victim Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, when defendants are alleged to have conspired with Syrian officials to have petitioner tortured in Syria; and (3) whether petitioner’s Bivens claim for obstruction of access to court may be dismissed on the ground that he did not sufficiently identify the particular defendants who took part in blocking his access to court.