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Today’s opinions

The Court released seven opinions this morning: in the three honest services fraud cases, Skilling, Black, and Weyhrauch; in Granite Rock v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters; in Magwood v. Patterson; in Morrison v. National Australia Bank; and in Doe v. Reed.

In Skilling v. United States (08-1394), the Court affirms in part, reverses in part, and remands in a main opinion by Justice Ginsburg.  The vote is unanimous on the “honest services” question in this case, but three Justices would have ruled that the honest services statute is unconstitutional:  Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy.  There are an array of other concurrences in the case, including a partial dissent by Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Breyer and Stevens.

  • Holding: (1) Pre-trial publicity and community prejudice did not prevent Skilling from having a fair trial. (2) The “honest services” statue covers only bribery and kickback schemes.  Part of the opinion vacates the Fifth Circuit’s ruling on Skilling’s conspiracy conviction.  In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor disagrees with the Court’s conclusion that Skilling had a fair trial before an impartial jury.

In Black v. United States (08-876), the Court unanimously vacates and remands, again in an opinion by Justice Ginsburg.  Justice Scalia concurs in part and in the judgment, joined by Justice Thomas.  Justice Kennedy separately concurs in part and in the judgment.

  • Holding: The Court’s opinion in Skilling on the scope of the honest services law renders the jury instructions in this case on that law incorrect.

In Weyhrauch v. United States (08-1196), the Court vacates and remands under Skilling, in a one-paragraph per curiam opinion.

In Granite Rock v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters (08-1214), the Court affirms in part, reverses in part, and remands, in an opinion by Justice Thomas.  Justice Sotomayor dissents in part, joined by Justice Stevens.

  • Holding: The dispute between the parties over the date on which their collective bargaining agreement was ratified was an issue to be decided by the district court, not by an arbitrator.

In Magwood v. Patterson (09-158), the Court reverses and remands, on a 5-4 vote, in an opinion by Justice Thomas.  Justice Kennedy dissents, joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Ginsburg and Alito.

  • Holding: The defendant’s habeas application is not a “second or successive” petition because it challenges a new judgment for the first time.

In Morrison v. National Australia Bank (08-1191), the Court affirms in an opinion by Justice Scalia.  The vote is unanimous, but with two concurring opinions by Justice Breyer and by Justice Stevens, joined by Ginsburg.  Justice Sotomayor took no part in the case.

  • Holding: The statute in question does not provide a cause of action to foreigners who sue foreign and American defendants for misconduct regarding securities trading on a foreign exchange.

In Doe v. Reed (09-559), the Court affirms, in an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts.  The vote is 8-1, with a dissent by Justice Thomas.

  • Holding: Disclosure of the information on petitions for ballot referenda does not, as a general matter, violate the First Amendment.  However, compelled disclosure of this information is subject to review under the First Amendment.  The broad challenge made by the petition-signers in this case must be rejected.  Additionally, this does not foreclose success to the petition signers in their narrower challenge to a second count in their case, which is pending before the district court.

The full texts of all of the opinions are below.

No. 08-1394, Skilling v. United States

No. 08-876, Black v. United States

No. 08-1196, Weyhrauch v. United States

No. 08-1191, Morrison v. National Australia Bank

No. 08-1214, Granite Rock Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters

No. 09-158, Magwood v. Patterson

No. 09-559, Doe v. Reed