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Petitions to Watch | Conference of 4.2.10

This edition of “Petitions to Watch” features cases up for consideration at the justices’ private conference today, Friday, April 2.  As always, it lists the petitions on the Court’s paid docket that Tom has deemed to have a reasonable chance of being granted.  Links to all previous editions are available in our SCOTUSwiki archive.

Title: Encarnacion v. Astrue
Docket: 09-631
Issue: Whether, in issuing benefits to disabled children from poor families under the Supplemental Security Income program, the use of a “non-combination” policy for assessing disability in children — requiring “extreme” limitation within one of six “domains” of functioning rather than across domains — violates 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(G)’s instruction to consider “the combined effect of all of the individual’s impairments.”

Title: Al-Turki v. Colorado
Docket: 09-700
Issue: Whether the courts below erred in refusing to allow petitioner, a Muslim, to probe a juror for potential bias (or to dismiss the juror for cause) on the ground that the juror’s comments “did not unequivocally express actual bias,” when the juror had stated during voir dire that he was “more likely to believe a Muslim would commit a crime.”

Title: Reed v. International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America
Docket: 09-709
Issues: (1) Whether an employee must suffer discharge or discipline as a prerequisite to challenging the reasonableness of a labor union’s religious accommodation under Title VII; and (2) whether a labor union’s requirement that a religious objector pay more than any other member of the bargaining unit to retain employment is a “reasonable accommodation.”

Title: SAP AG v. Sky Technologies
Docket: 09-819
Issue: Whether the Patent Act allows states to create non-statutory classes of patent owners with standing to sue for infringement — in addition to the three such classes identified in the Act, “patentee[s],” “heirs,” and “assigns” — including “transfer[ee]s” who may take title without any writing at all?

Title: Ransom v. MBNA, America Bank
Docket: 09-907
Issue: Whether, in calculating the debtor’s “projected disposable income” during the plan period, the bankruptcy court may allow an ownership cost deduction for vehicles only if the debtor is actually making payments on the vehicles.

Case involving lawyers from Akin Gump or Howe & Russell (listed without regard to likelihood of being granted):

Title: John v. United States; People of Bikini v. United States (vided)
Docket: 09-498; 09-499
Combined issues: (1) Whether a statute withdrawing Tucker Act jurisdiction over Just Compensation Clause claims in favor of a newly created administrative process unambiguously expressed congressional intent to bar judicial review of those claims;  (2) whether, under the political question doctrine, the court of appeals could not even consider petitioners’ contention that the jurisdictional bar is invalid; and (3) whether Congress can legislate or contract itself out of its constitutional obligation to pay citizens and territorial dependents just compensation under the Fifth Amendment.

[Disclosure: Akin Gump represents the petitioners in No. 09-499 (but does not represent any parties in No. 09-498).]

The Court has re-listed the following cases from previous editions of Petitions to Watch for the conference of April 2.