At its Conference on November 7, 2014, the Court will consider petitions seeking review of issues such as government speech and license-plate designs, retaliation against employees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and the availability of federal tax subsidies to individuals who purchase health insurance on an exchange operated by the federal government.

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.

14-163

Issue(s): Whether, under Section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code, which provides that “[t]o the extent that a lien secures a claim against the debtor that is not an allowed secured claim, such lien is void,” a Chapter 7 debtor may “strip off” a junior mortgage lien in its entirety when the outstanding debt owed to a senior lienholder exceeds the current value of the collateral.

13-1421

Issue(s): Whether, under Section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code, which provides that “[t]o the extent that a lien secures a claim against the debtor that is not an allowed secured claim, such lien is void,” a Chapter 7 debtor may “strip off” a junior mortgage lien in its entirety when the outstanding debt owed to a senior lienholder exceeds the current value of the collateral.

14-152

Issue(s): Whether Section 510 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1140, prohibits retaliation against an employee who makes unsolicited complaints to management regarding possible ERISA violations.

14-144

Issue(s): (1) Whether the messages and images that appear on state-issued specialty license plates qualify as government speech immune from any requirement of viewpoint neutrality; and (2) whether Texas engaged in “viewpoint discrimination” by rejecting the license-plate design proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, when Texas has not issued any license plate that portrays the confederacy or the confederate battle flag in a negative or critical light.

Relists

14-212

Issue(s): (1) Whether, when a police officer approaches a residence to conduct a “knock and talk,” the Fourth Amendment requires the officer to go to the “front door” even where it reasonably appears that some other entrance is also customarily used by visitors; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in holding that such a rule was “clearly established” for purposes of qualified immunity.

14-191

Issue(s): (1) Whether, under this Court's decision in Martinez v. Ryan, post-conviction counsel's ineffectiveness can provide cause to excuse the procedural default of an ineffective-assistance-of-appellate-counsel claim, or whether Martinez v. Ryan is limited to excusing only the default of a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel; and (2) whether, under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), a state-court adjudication of a judicial-bias claim is per se unreasonable under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2) merely because the allegedly biased judge rules on the claim based on facts within her knowledge without first conducting an evidentiary hearing, or whether a federal court must grant AEDPA deference to the judge's determination when the evidence in the state-court record supports it.

14-132

Issue(s): Whether this Court has “clearly established,” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), that where a state appellate court concludes certain pretrial statements should have been excluded from the prosecution’s case under Miranda v. Arizona, the court’s harmless error analysis must ignore the fact that the defendant also took the stand at trial and admitted the conduct involved in the offense.

14-114

Issue(s): Whether the Internal Revenue Service may permissibly promulgate regulations to extend tax-credit subsidies to coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government under Section 1321 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

14-110

Issue(s): Whether, in antitrust or other cases in which the plaintiff must prove causation in fact as an element of the claim, a plaintiff must produce evidence of causation to defeat a motion for summary judgment, or whether a court may instead presume causation at summary judgment and permit the case to proceed to trial based on that presumption.

14-95

Issue(s): Whether Herring v. New York clearly establishes that a limitation on closing argument is structural error, as the Ninth Circuit held here, or, whether, as many other courts have held, Herring allows the possibility that such a limitation is subject to harmless error review.

14-29

Issue(s): (1) Whether, in a prosecution for insider trading under § 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b), the relevant inside information must have been a “significant factor” in the defendant’s decision to buy or sell, or whether -- as the court below held -- mere “knowing possession” of inside information suffices for a criminal conviction; (2) whether, in a prosecution for insider trading under § 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b), the “fiduciary duty” element must be proved under well-established principles of state law, or whether -- as the court below held -- courts may define and impose the applicable fiduciary duty as a matter of federal common law; and (3) whether exculpatory testimony given by a witness during a deposition in a closely related federal enforcement proceeding is admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 804(b) in a subsequent criminal trial when the witness is unavailable, or whether -- as the court below held -- such testimony may be excluded merely because it was given in a civil rather than criminal proceeding.

13-1516

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.

13-1433

Issue(s): (1) Whether a state court that considers the evidence presented at a petitioner’s penalty phase proceeding as determinative of the petitioner’s claim of mental retardation under Atkins v. Virginia has based its decision on an unreasonable determination of facts under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2); and (2) whether a state court that denies funding to an indigent petitioner who has no other means of obtaining evidence of his mental retardation has denied petitioner his “opportunity to be heard,” contrary to Atkins and Ford v. Wainwright and his constitutional right to be provided with the “basic tools” for an adequate defense, contrary to Ake v. Oklahoma.

13-1318

Issue(s): (1) Whether a federal complaint is subject to dismissal when it fails to cite the statute authorizing the cause of action; (2) whether the lower federal courts have authority to create pleading requirements for complaints when those requirements are not contained in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; and (3) whether a federal complaint should be dismissed when it alleges the elements of a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim, but does not cite 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

13-1227

Issue(s): Whether a habeas court may evade the highly deferential standard of review in the habeas statute by characterizing its legal and policy differences with the state court as unreasonable factual determinations and grant the writ on the basis of ineffectiveness of appellate counsel when the state court held that the cross-examination of the mitigation witness was not fundamental error under state law.

CVSG

13-852

Issue(s): Whether a state can restrict a national bank’s exercise of its fiduciary powers in connection with real property in that state if the bank is authorized to act as a fiduciary by the Comptroller of the Currency and not prohibited from doing so by the (different) state in which the bank is “located” under 12 U.S.C. § 92a and 12 C.F.R. § 9.7. CVSG: 10/07/2014.

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline

Recommended Citation: Maureen Johnston, Petitions to watch | Conference of November 7, SCOTUSblog (Nov. 4, 2014, 4:30 PM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2014/11/petitions-to-watch-conference-of-november-7/