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Court releases January calendar

When the justices return to the bench in January, they will face a nearly full argument calendar: nine arguments over five days of oral arguments. (No arguments are scheduled on the tenth day in the sitting, January 16, because it is a federal holiday.) The January calendar, which was released yesterday, includes several high-profile cases, ranging from a dispute over credit-card surcharges to a First Amendment challenge to the federal government’s refusal to register “disparaging” trademarks and a trio of cases arising out of the arrest and detention of Middle Eastern men after the September 11 attacks.

Once again, however, an even higher-profile case is missing from the calendar: Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, an important religious liberty case that the justices agreed to review nearly a year ago, before the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. There is no way to know why Trinity Lutheran’s case, along with two other cases granted on the same day (Murr v. Wisconsin and Microsoft v. Baker), has not yet been scheduled for oral argument, but all three cases are ones in which Scalia was likely among the four justices who voted to grant. If so, the justices themselves may be delaying the case, in the hope that a ninth justice will be able to participate in the case and allow them to avoid a 4-4 tie.

A list of the cases scheduled for January, along with a brief summary of the issues presented in each, follows the jump.

  • Nelson v. Colorado (January 9; granted September 29): A constitutional challenge to the state’s rule that defendants whose convictions for crimes entailing monetary penalties are reversed can obtain refunds only if they show, by clear and convincing evidence, that they are innocent.
  • Lewis v. Clarke (January 9; granted September 29): Whether an Indian tribe’s sovereign immunity bars lawsuits against tribal employees for damages based on actions committed within the scope of their employment.
  • Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman (January 10; granted September 29): A First Amendment challenge to a New York law that allows merchants to give “discounts” to customers who pay in cash, but criminalizes the imposition of “surcharges” for customers who use credit cards.
  • Goodyear Tire v. Haeger (January 10; granted September 29): Whether federal courts must tailor compensatory civil sanctions to the harm that was directly caused by sanctionable misconduct.
  • Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District (January 11; granted September 29): Whether schools must provide students with disabilities with some non-trivial educational benefit, with a substantial benefit, or something in between.
  • Lynch v. Dimaya (January 17; granted September 29): Whether, for purposes of federal immigration law, the general definition of a “crime of violence” is so vague that it is unconstitutional.
  • Midland Funding v. Johnson (January 17; granted October 11): Whether Midland Funding violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act when it filed an accurate, but late, proof of claim in a bankruptcy proceeding, and whether the bankruptcy code precludes a lawsuit under the FDCPA on the ground that the defendant filed a proof of claim too late.
  • Lee v. Tam (January 18; granted September 29): Whether the provision of the federal trademark law that allows the Patent and Trademark Office to refuse to register “disparaging” marks violates the First Amendment.
  • Ziglar v. Abbasi (consolidated with Ashcroft v. Abbasi and Hasty v. Abbasi) (January 18; granted October 11): Whether lawsuits by Middle Eastern men, who were present in the United States illegally when they were arrested and detained for immigration violations after the September 11 attacks, against government officials can go forward, when the lawsuits allege that the officials knew that “they were subjecting individuals with no ties to terrorism to unnecessary and punitive conditions of confinement.”

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Court releases January calendar, SCOTUSblog (Dec. 6, 2016, 9:54 AM),