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Court grants five cases (UPDATED)

UPDATED 1:15 p.m.  The Court at midday issued an amended order in the Arkansas case dealing with religious objections to a prison policy banning inmates from having beards.  The challenging inmate, Gregory Holt, who also uses a Muslim name, had raised six questions in his petition.  The amended order limited the grant to the single question whether the policy was invalid under the federal statute “to the extent” that it barred Holt from “growing a one-half-inch beard in accordance with his beliefs.”  Holt had offered that as a compromise alternative to the no-beard policy.  (The post below has been expanded to include other details about Monday’s orders.)


The Supreme Court, beginning to shape its docket for the next Term starting in October, agreed on Monday to hear five new cases, including a constitutional challenge to a state prison system’s policy barring inmates from wearing beards.  The Court also asked the federal government for its view on a new dispute between Florida and Georgia over the regulation of the flow of water from rivers in Georgia into Florida’s Apalachicola River (142 Original).

The Court denied review of two new cases involving the power of state or local governments to regulate housing and other opportunities for undocumented immigrants.

The Court has already rounded out the list of cases it will hear and decide during the current Term, so all new granted cases will go over to October or later.

Here, in brief, are the issues in the granted cases:

Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk — claim for overtime pay by workers for the after-hours screening as a measure to prevent workplace theft.

Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers District Council — proof needed in a private lawsuit by an investor claiming that a registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission was untrue.

Warger v. Shauers — scope of a right to new trial in federal court because of alleged dishonesty by a juror during the jury selection process.

North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission — definition of a state agency’s right to share in the state government’s immunity from federal antitrust claims.

Holt v. Hobbs — religiously based challenge, under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, to the Arkansas prison system’s ban on the wearing of beards by inmates.  (This is a case filed directly by an inmate, in a hand-written petition.)

Among the cases that the Court chose to deny were two from local governments in Farmers Branch, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, and Hazleton, Pennsylvania, seeking further clarification of the authority of governments at any level to pass laws that limit what undocumented immigrants may do when living in this country.  Both jurisdictions had strictly limited the occupancy of housing in the community by non-citizens illegally in the United States.  The Hazleton ordinance also had barred such individuals from working in the community.  Both of the ordinances at issue had been struck down in lower courts.  (The petitions were in the cases of City of Farmers Branch v. Villas at Parkside Partners and City of Hazleton v. Lozano.)

The Court refused to take a new look at claims that the federal government has acted unconstitutionally in using various forms of global electronic eavesdropping in its investigation of potential terrorist activity.  It denied review, without comment, of a petition by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York City-based advocacy group, and five of its staff attorneys, attempting to revive their lawsuit against the warrantless surveillance system used by the George W. Bush administration from shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. until early 2007.   The petition in CCR v. Obama did not challenge the ongoing program of the National Security Agency, which has had the approval of both Congress and the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  That broader program is facing several court challenges that the Court will confront later.

Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, Court grants five cases (UPDATED), SCOTUSblog (Mar. 3, 2014, 10:06 AM),