In its Conference of October 9, 2015, the Court will consider petitions seeking review of issues such as whether California’s “top two” electoral system substantially burdens voter rights of political association and whether private party contracts that dictate fiduciary obligations are preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

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) Which party bears the burden of proving loss to the plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act § 409(a); and (2) whether private party contracts that dictate fiduciary obligations (and plan asset valuations) are preempted by ERISA.


Issue(s): Whether California's “top two” electoral system substantially burdens voter rights of political association, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, by excluding the great majority of candidates and their diverse messages from the moment of peak political participation.


Issue(s): Whether, to invoke a district court's jurisdiction under the Quiet Title Act to adjudicate the merits of a quiet title action, a state must establish facts that show affirmative action by the United States that demonstrates its claim to title in the property, or alternatively whether a state can rely on facts that raise a cloud on the state's title.




Issue(s): (1) Whether, when viewing the facts from the perspective of an officer who fired his service rifle at a vehicle involved in a high-speed chase, the officer acted reasonably under the Fourth Amendment when an officer in his situation would believe that the suspect posed a risk of serious harm to other officers or members of the public; and (2) whether the law clearly established that this use of potentially deadly force was unlawful when existing precedent did not address the use of force against a fleeing suspect who had explicitly threatened to shoot police officers.


Issue(s): Whether a defendant asserting ineffective assistance under Strickland v. Washington based upon counsel's failure to raise a structural error must – in addition to demonstrating deficient performance – show that he was prejudiced by counsel's ineffectiveness, or whether prejudice is presumed because the harm from structural errors is “necessarily unquantifiable and indeterminate,” Sullivan v. Louisiana.

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline

Recommended Citation: John Ehrett, Petitions to watch | Conference of October 9, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 6, 2015, 8:30 AM),