Details on today’s opinions
on Jun 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm
The Court also issued opinions in four argued cases this morning.
Justice Kagan announced the first opinion of the morning, in Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak. By a vote of eight to one, the Court affirmed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, holding that the federal government has waived its sovereign immunity from Patchak’s suit under the Administrative Procedure Act, in which he alleges that Section 465 of the Indian Reorganization Act did not authorize the Secretary of the Interior to acquire into trust property that the Band intended to use for “gaming purposes” because the Band was not a federally recognized tribe when the Indian Reorganization Act was enacted in 1934. Moreover, the Court held, Patchak has prudential standing to challenge the Secretary’s acquisition of the land in question. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion.
Justice Sotomayor announced the second opinion of the day, in Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter. By a vote of five to four, the Court affirmed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, holding that the federal government must pay in full each Tribe’s contract support costs incurred by a tribal contractor under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, 25 U.S.C. § 450, even if Congress has failed to appropriate sufficient funds to cover all of the contract support costs owed to all tribal contractors collectively. The Chief Justice filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Alito joined.
Justice Alito announced the judgment of the Court in Williams v. Illinois. By a vote of five to four, the Court affirmed the decision of the Supreme Court of Illinois that the admission of expert testimony about the results of DNA testing performed by non-testifying analysts did not violate the Confrontation Clause. Justice Alito was also the author of a plurality opinion that was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy and Breyer. Justice Breyer filed his own concurring opinion, while Justice Thomas filed an opinion in which he concurred in the judgment only. Justice Kagan filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor joined.
Justice Alito also delivered the fourth and final opinion of the day, in Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. By a vote of five to four, the Court affirmed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, holding that the petitioners –pharmaceutical sales representatives whose primary duty is to obtain nonbinding commitments from physicians to prescribe their employer’s prescription drugs in appropriate cases – qualify as outside salesmen under the most reasonable interpretation of the Department of Labor’s regulations. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined. [Disclosure: The law firm of Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents the petitioners in the case.]