The Court is currently in its summer recess; it is scheduled to resume oral arguments in October.  It does not have any Conferences scheduled until the September 24, 2012 Conference, when the Justices will formally be back at work and will select cases from the summer lists for review during the October 2012 Term.  Because our list of “Petitions to watch” for that Conference will be quite large, we will feature the petitions in installments over the next two months.  This set of petitions includes such issues as the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, the statute of limitations for governmental claims, bankruptcy claims and the Federal Arbitration Act, international or foreign banking transactions under the Edge Act, and warrantless blood sampling for drunk drivers.

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.

Washington State Democratic Central Committee v. Washington State Grange

Docket: 11-1263
Issue(s): (1) Whether, when the State of Washington asserts that a general disclaimer prevents voter perceptions that candidates are associated with the party that the candidate “prefers,” it bears the burden of showing the risk of forced association is in fact reduced to a constitutionally acceptable level; (2) whether the principles articulated by federal courts evaluating trademark misuse claims should be applied by analogy in evaluating the likelihood of voter confusion under “top two” systems, in which the candidate for office may choose to appear on the ballot in conjunction with a political party’s name without the party’s consent; and (3) if Washington’s partisan top two system as implemented need not pass strict scrutiny, whether it nevertheless fails to qualify as a reasonable and politically neutral regulation that advances an important state interest.

Certiorari stage documents:

Gabelli v. Securities and Exchange Commission (Granted )

Docket: 11-1274
Issue(s): Whether for purposes of applying the five-year limitations period under 28 U.S.C. § 2462 -- which provides that “except as otherwise provided by Act of Congress” any penalty action brought by the government must be “commenced within five years from the date when the claims first accrued” -- the government’s claim first accrues when the government can first bring an action for a penalty, where Congress has not enacted a separate controlling provision.

Certiorari stage documents:

Continental Insurance Co. v. Thorpe Insulation Co.

Docket: 11-1310
Issue(s): Whether Congress intended to make an exception to the Federal Arbitration Act for claims arising in bankruptcy proceedings in view of an inherent conflict between arbitration and the underlying purposes of the Bankruptcy Code.

Certiorari stage documents:

AvidAir Helicopter Supply, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce Corp.

Docket: 11-1366
Issue(s): (1) Whether maintenance related Federal Aviation Regulations (F.A.R.s) and/or orders promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), including 14 C.F.R. § 21.50, 14 C.F.R. § 33.4 and FAA Order 8110.54 must be considered and enforced in a federal district court and/or a United States Circuit Court of Appeals in providing the appropriate standard of care for state law remedies involving claims of misappropriation of aviation overhaul/repair and maintenance information alleged to be trade secrets; (2) whether an FAA authorized aviation maintenance provider can be, in effect, required to violate the law (F.A.R.s) through not being allowed to possess current manufacturer maintenance instructions; (3) whether a United States Circuit Court of Appeals can selectively enforce only certain F.A.R.s on its own volition and ignore other relevant F.A.R.s; (4) whether a United States Circuit Court of Appeals can create a definition of “value” of an alleged aviation related trade secret that is contrary to a controlling decision of the United States Supreme Court; and (5) whether a United States Circuit Court of Appeals can ignore summary judgment evidence and decisions of its Circuit and of the United States Supreme Court, which deal directly with loss of trade secret protection.

Certiorari stage documents:

Chappell v. Gonzales

Docket: 11-1397
Issue(s): Whether, when a state court’s rejection of a claim on the merits was reasonable under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), Cullen v. Pinholster requires that the claim be denied, or whether a federal court may stay the proceedings in order to permit the petitioner to present to the state court additional allegations of fact in support of the claim.

Certiorari stage documents:

Missouri v. McNeely (Granted )

Docket: 11-1425
Issue(s): Whether a law enforcement officer may obtain a nonconsensual and warrantless blood sample from a drunk driver under the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement based upon the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream.

Certiorari stage documents:

The Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles (Granted )

Docket: 11-1450
Issue(s): Whether, after Smith v. Bayer, when a named plaintiff attempts to defeat a defendant’s right of removal under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 by filing with a class action complaint a “stipulation” that attempts to limit the damages he “seeks” for the absent putative class members to less than the $5 million threshold for federal jurisdiction, and the defendant establishes that the actual amount in controversy, absent the “stipulation,” exceeds $5 million, the “stipulation” is binding on absent class members so as to destroy federal jurisdiction.

Certiorari stage documents:

Missouri Title Loans, Inc. v. Brewer

Docket: 11-1466
Issue(s): (1) Whether the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") preempts state law finding an arbitration agreement to be unconscionable when the plaintiff cannot vindicate her statutory rights without a class action; and (2) whether the Supreme Court of Missouri, on remand from the Supreme Court, contravened the FAA by again refusing to enforce Missouri Title Loans' arbitration agreement, this time based upon alleged evidence submitted by the plaintiff aimed at substantiating the very public policy arguments that were held to be preempted in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion.

Certiorari stage documents:

Icicle Seafoods, Inc. v. Clausen

Docket: 11-1475
Issue(s): (1) Whether, in determining the ratio between compensatory and punitive damages for purposes of applying federal limits on punitive damages, court-awarded attorney’s fees are properly included as compensatory damages; and (2) whether, and to what extent, punitive damages in maritime cases may exceed the 1:1 ratio between compensatory and punitive damages applied by the Court’s Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker decision.

Certiorari stage documents:

KeyCorp v. Sollitt

Docket: 11-1479
Issue(s): Whether a case under the Edge Act, 12 U.S.C. § 632, “arises” out of international or foreign banking transactions when the significant legal issues in the case are directly related to such transactions.

Certiorari stage documents:

Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives v. Gill

Docket: 12-13
Issue(s): (1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. § 7, violates the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; and (2) whether the court below erred by inventing and applying to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act a previously unknown standard of equal protection review.

Certiorari stage documents:

Department of Health and Human Services v. Massachusetts

Docket: 12-15
Issue(s): Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. 7, violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws as applied to persons of the same sex who are legally married under the laws of their state.

Certiorari stage documents:

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline

Recommended Citation: Ben Cheng, Petitions to watch | Conference of September 24, 2012, SCOTUSblog (Aug. 10, 2012, 8:30 AM),