This is the second installment of “Petitions to watch” featuring cases up for consideration at the Court’s September 29 “Long Conference.”  Because the Court has not considered new petitions since the end of June, the number of petitions slated for review at the September 29 Conference is quite large – more than at any other Conference of the year. Therefore, we are posting our list of petitions to watch at the “Long Conference” in three separate installments. This second installment includes petitions seeking review of issues such as the jurisdiction of tribal courts to adjudicate civil tort claims against non-members, disparate-impact claims under the Fair Housing Act, and the dismissal of a lawsuit as a “strike” under the Prison Litigation Reform Act.  The first installment is available here.

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.  Our policy is to include and disclose all cases in which Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents either a party or an amicus in the case, with the exception of the rare cases in which Goldstein & Russell represents the respondent(s) but does not appear on the briefs in the case.


Issue(s): (1) Whether certiorari should be granted to resolve the conflicting decisions between the Michigan Supreme Court and other states' courts as to whether an ordinance violates substantive and procedural due process when it creates a presumption that an unsafe structure shall be demolished as a public nuisance if the cost to repair the structure would exceed its value and when the ordinance does not afford the owner an option to repair as a matter of right; and (2) whether the Brighton code of ordinances § 18-59 is facially unconstitutional, in violation of both substantive and procedural due process, where it creates a presumption that an unsafe structure shall be demolished as a public nuisance if the cost to repair the structure would exceed 100% of the structure's true cash value as reflected in assessment tax rolls before the structure became unsafe and does not afford the owner of such a structure an option to repair as a matter of right.


Issue(s): Whether an aggregate prison term imposed on a juvenile for non-homicide offenses that does not permit release before 100 years of age constitutes a sentence of life without parole as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


Issue(s): Whether it is an “adverse employment action” for a discrimination claim, or a “materially adverse action” for a retaliation claim, when an employer grants an employee’s request for a job transfer.

Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioners in this case.

Issue(s): Whether Indian tribal courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate civil tort claims against nonmembers, including as a means of regulating the conduct of nonmembers who enter into consensual relationships with a tribe or its members. CVSG: 5/12/2015.


Issue(s): Whether disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act.


Issue(s): Whether Miller v. Alabama - which held that a state may not sentence a teenage murderer to life imprisonment without parole unless the state provides a process whereby the sentencer considers the offender's youth and attendant characteristics - should be applied retroactively to a murder conviction on collateral review.


Issue(s): Whether, under the “three strikes” provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g), a district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit counts as a “strike” while it is still pending on appeal or before the time for seeking appellate review has passed.


Issue(s): (1) Whether the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution and 2 U. S. C. § 2a(c) permit Arizona’s use of a commission to adopt congressional districts; and (2) whether the Arizona Legislature has standing to bring this suit.


Issue(s): Whether the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals violated the Federal Arbitration Act’s severability rule by refusing to enforce an arbitration clause on the basis of a challenge that was not directed specifically to that clause.


Issue(s): (1) Whether the biological basis for sex discrimination articulated in Nguyen v. Immigration and Naturalization Service can be extended to unrelated facial sex and legitimacy-based distinctions in 8 U.S.C. § 1432(a), or whether such distinctions are unconstitutional, as four Justices concluded in an order for an equally divided court in Flores-Villar v. United States; and (2) whether heightened scrutiny, the ordinary standard of review for sex and legitimacy-based distinctions, applies to such distinctions in the citizenship context.


Issue(s): Whether, contrary to the Federal Circuit's decision in USA Choice Internet Services, LLC v. United States, the Internal Revenue Service can tax as “local telephone service” under 26 U.S.C. § 4251 the purchase of data services that do not enable the purchaser to make or receive telephone calls.


Issue(s): Whether, in a federal jury case, a district judge's procedural failure to make detailed findings under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals regarding important expert testimony requires the appellate court to order a new trial, regardless of whether there was actually any substantive error in the expert testimony heard or not heard by the jury.


Issue(s): (1) Whether the lower court’s refusal to require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to justify the revised 2008 national ambient air quality standards as being “not lower or higher than is necessary” can stand in light of that decision’s conflict with Whitman v. American Trucking Ass’ns; and (2) whether the lower court’s agreement with the EPA that the 1997 findings were irrelevant to the 2008 revision can stand in light of the EPA’s obligation under this Court’s decision in Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, Inc. to justify changed findings that underlie changed regulation.


Issue(s): Whether and under what circumstances a federal prisoner may use 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) to seek relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 when an intervening and retroactively applicable statutory decision of this Court demonstrates that his sentence his unlawful.


Issue(s): Whether a state may, consistent with the dormant Commerce Clause, impose an ad valorem tax on natural gas that is being transported through interstate commerce but temporarily stored in the state by a common carrier, even though the taxpayer has no control over where the gas is stored and no other connection with the state.

Disclosure: As of July 25, 2014, Goldstein & Russell, PC represents the petitioner in this case.

Issue(s): (1) Whether a court can constitutionally take copyrights to works originally owned and authored by an independent contractor and hand them to a private party by judicially re-designating them “works for hire;” (2) whether “employer” under the Copyright Act of 1909 can be judicially extended beyond conventional employment to independent contractors, when this contradicts its common law meaning, binding Supreme Court precedent and longstanding canons of statutory construction; and (3) whether “work for hire” can be determined based on post-creation contingencies, like discretionary payment, when authorship and ownership of a copyrightable work, including “work for hire,” vests at inception.


Issue(s): Whether the favorable termination requirement of Heck v. Humphrey applies when federal habeas relief was unavailable as a practical matter to a Section 1983 plaintiff.


Issue(s): Whether a citizen’s political and religious speech may constitute provision of “material support or resources” to a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) under the “coordination” rubric of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, when the government conceded that petitioner was not instructed by the FTO, and the evidence showed that he did not interact with the FTO, but rather viewed, translated, and disseminated materials of his own choosing, while expressing moral support for certain views of the FTO, and associating on the Internet with persons who the government claims had themselves associated with the FTO.


Issue(s): (1) Whether petitioner’s Confrontation Clause rights were violated when the state failed to call an available medical expert who had not previously been cross-examined to testify in a murder trial and instead called a medical examiner as a percipient scientific witness who was not involved in the autopsy and entered the autopsy report into evidence where the main issue in the case is manner of death; (2) whether, when an autopsy report is entered into evidence and the person who drafted the report is available, but not called and was not previously cross-examined, the autopsy is testimonial and its admission into evidence therefore violates petitioner's Confrontation Clause rights; (3) whether the trial court erred in using the standard under People v. Marsden to decide whether petitioner could replace his public defender with privately retained counsel.


Issue(s): (1) Whether, in order to demonstrate that evidentiary errors in a capital sentencing proceeding were harmless, the government must establish that the errors did not affect the verdict of the jury that actually heard the case or whether the government may instead meet its burden by demonstrating that such errors would not have affected a hypothetical, reasonable jury; and (2) whether, under the cumulative error doctrine, a reviewing court must reverse if the government cannot establish that preserved errors are harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, or is reversal required only if the errors “so fatally infect[ed] the trial that they violated the trial’s fundamental fairness.”


Posted in Everything Else

Recommended Citation: Maureen Johnston, Petitions to watch | The “Long Conference” of September 29 (Part II), SCOTUSblog (Sep. 10, 2014, 12:00 PM),