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Petitions to watch | Conference of October 14, 2011

On October 14, the Court will consider petitions on such issues as the constitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act and exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act.  This edition of “Petitions to watch” features petitions raising issues that Tom has determined to have a reasonable chance of being granted, although we post them here without consideration of whether they present appropriate vehicles in which to decide those issues.


United States v. Alvarez

Docket: 11-210

Issue: Whether the Stolen Valor Act, 18 U.S.C. § 704(b), which makes it a crime to falsely represent that you have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States, is facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. 

Certiorari-stage documents


Prison Legal News v. Executive Office for United States Attorneys

 Docket: 10-1510

Issue: Whether the government can refuse to disclose records by invoking an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, when it has already disclosed the same records elsewhere by placing them in the public domain as unsealed evidence in a public trial.

Certiorari-stage documents


Colony Cove Properties, LLC v. City of Carson, Cal. 

Docket: 11-189

Issue: (1) WhetherWilliamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City (1985) should be overruled, to the extent that it arbitrarily denies a federal forum to regulatory takings claimants seeking just compensation for the violation of their rights under the Fifth Amendment, contrary to the intention of Congress in enacting Section 1983; and (2) whether this Court should recognize an exception to Williamson County’s “state procedures” requirement for takings claimants like petitioner, whose Fifth Amendment claims will otherwise be relegated to a California state court system that does not recognize or provide a remedy of just compensation for their injuries.

Certiorari-stage documents


Petitions relisted: 

Elgin v. Department of the Treasury (relisted after the 10/7 Conference)

Docket:  11-45

Issue(s):  Whether the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, 5 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq., precludes petitioners from seeking equitable relief in district court based on allegations that they were unconstitutionally terminated from federal employment.

Certiorari stage documents:


Utah Highway Patrol Ass’n v. American Atheists  (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  10-1276

Issue(s):  (1) Which Establishment Clause test should be applied when analyzing passive public displays; (2) does the Establishment Clause forbid roadside memorial crosses marking the site of death for state highway troopers killed in the line of duty; and (3) is a collection of memorials owned by a private organization, disclaimed by the state, and located on both private and public property properly classified as government speech? 

Certiorari stage documents:


Davenport v. American Atheists (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  10-1297

Issue(s):  (1) What is the appropriate test for evaluating whether a passive display with religious imagery violates the Establishment Clause; (2) whether this Court should set aside the “endorsement test” in favor of the “coercion test”; and (3) whether a memorial cross placed on state land by a private organization to commemorate fallen state troopers is an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

Certiorari stage documents:


Magner v. Gallagher (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  10-1032

Issue(s):  (1) Whether disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act; and, if so (2) what test should be used to analyze them.

Certiorari stage documents:


Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  10-1491

Issue(s):  (1) Whether the issue of corporate civil tort liability under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. § 1350, is a merits question or instead an issue of subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) whether corporations are immune from tort liability for violations of the law of nations such as torture, extrajudicial executions or genocide, or if corporations may instead be sued in the same manner as any other private party defendant under the ATS for such egregious violations. 

Certiorari stage documents:


Bowoto v. Chevron Corp. (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  10-1536

Issue(s):  Whether corporations and other legal entities may be sued for torture and extrajudicial killing under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991.

Certiorari stage documents:


Mohamad v. Rajoub (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  11-88

Issue(s):  Whether the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 permits actions against defendants that are not natural persons.

Certiorari stage documents:


United States v. New York (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  10-1404

Issue(s):  Whether the United States may be barred from enforcing the Nonintercourse Act against a state that repeatedly purchased and resold (at a substantial profit) Indian lands in violation of the Act between 1795 and 1846, based on the passage of time and the transfer of the unlawfully obtained Indian lands into the hands of third parties, when the United States seeks monetary relief only against the state.

Certiorari stage documents:


Oneida Nation of New York v. County of Oneida, New York (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  10-1420

Issue(s):  (1) Whether the court of appeals contravened this Court’s decisions in Oneida Indian Nation of New York v. County of Oneida and City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation by ruling that “equitable considerations” rendered petitioners’ claims for money damages for the dispossession of their tribal lands in violation of federal law void ab initio; and (2) whether the court of appeals impermissibly encroached on the legislative power of Congress by relying on “equitable considerations” to bar petitioners’ claims as untimely, even though they were brought within the statute of limitations fixed by Congress for the precise tribal land claims at issue.

Certiorari stage documents:


Cavazos v. Smith (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  10-1115

Issue(s):  Did the Ninth Circuit exceed its authority under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) by granting relief for insufficient evidence based on its acceptance of the cause-of-death testimony of defense experts over the contrary opinion testimony of prosecution experts? 

Certiorari stage documents:


Cash v. Maxwell (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  10-1548

Issue(s):  (1) Whether, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, a federal court may grant habeas relief on a claim that the state-court conviction rested on perjured testimony absent proof that the prosecution knew that the challenged testimony was false and when the state post-conviction court deemed the testimony truthful; (2) whether, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, a federal court may grant habeas relief on a claim alleging suppression of exculpatory evidence when that evidence was unknown to law enforcement officials working on the case and without considering whether the state court might have rejected this claim.

Certiorari stage documents:


Hardy v. Cross (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  11-74

Issue(s):  Whether the court of appeals violated 28 U.S.C. § 2254 and Supreme Court precedent by overriding state court determinations of law and fact and awarding habeas relief based on a constitutional rule that this Court has never recognized and that the Seventh Circuit derived entirely from its own precedent.

Certiorari stage documents:


Bobby v. Dixon (relisted after the 9/26 and 10/7 Conferences)

Docket:  10-1540

Issue(s):  (1) Whether the Sixth Circuit contravened the directives of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) when it abandoned the “in custody” requirement of Miranda v. Arizona and Edwards v. Arizona; (2) whether the interviewer’s state of mind has any bearing on whether a suspect’s statement is voluntary under the established law of Oregon v. Elstad; and (3) whether the Sixth Circuit exceeded its authority under AEDPA when it condemned the use of the “prisoner’s dilemma”—where the police indicate that favorable treatment will go to the first suspect who cooperates—as an unconstitutionally coercive interrogation tactic. 

Certiorari stage documents:

Recommended Citation: Kiera Flynn, Petitions to watch | Conference of October 14, 2011, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 14, 2011, 11:33 AM),