Details on today’s opinions
on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm
The Court issued three opinions in argued cases this morning.
The first opinion of the day was in Douglas v. Independent Living Center (consolidated with Douglas v. California Pharmacists Association and Douglas v. Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital), which was argued on October 3, 2011, making it previously the oldest undecided case. The oldest outstanding cases are now Martinez v. Ryan and Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Justice Breyer announced the Court’s opinion in the Douglas cases. By a vote of five to four, the Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s decision and remanded. The Court only decided to let the parties argue before the Ninth Circuit in the first instance whether the respondents may maintain Supremacy Clause actions in light of the approval by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of the challenged California statutes that reduce the amount of Medicaid reimbursement. Chief Justice Roberts filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. The dissenters would have held that such an action is barred.
Justice Kennedy announced the second opinion of the day, PPL Montana LLC v. Montana, for a unanimous Court. The Court held that the Montana Supreme Court’s ruling that the state of Montana owns and may charge for use of the riverbeds at issue was based on an infirm legal understanding of the Court’s rules of navigability for title under the equal-footing doctrine. The decision of the Montana Supreme Court was reversed.
The Chief Justice announced the final opinion for the day, Messerschmidt v. Millender. The Court held, by a vote of six to three, that the officers in the case are entitled to qualified immunity for executing a search warrant for firearms and evidence of gang activity in a home after a victim reported that the suspect had threatened her with a gun. Justice Breyer filed a concurring opinion. Justice Kagan filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Ginsburg.