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Monday round-up

Today the court hears oral argument in two cases. The first is Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton (consolidated with two other related cases), which asks whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s exemption for church plans applies to pension plans maintained by church-affiliated organizations. Ronald Mann previewed the case for this blog. Emily Rector and Kimberly Petrick preview the case for Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute. At his eponymous blog, Ross Runkel also looks at the case, noting that it “could possibly up-end thirty years of administrative interpretations that have granted a church plan exemption even though a plan was not initially established by a church – so long as it is maintained by an otherwise qualifying organization that is associated with or controlled by a church.” Today’s second argument is in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Brands Group LLC, in which the justices will consider the rules governing the venue in which patent infringement lawsuits can be filed. Ronald Mann had this blog’s preview. Nicholas Halliburton previews the case for Cornell.

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up its hearing on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Coverage comes from David Savage in the Los Angeles Times, Nina Totenberg at NPR, and Robert Barnes in The Washington Post. NPR also offered a special podcast analyzing the hearing. Commentary comes from William Marshall at ACS Blog, Mark Kende at ACS Blog, Ken Jost at Jost on Justice, Kent Scheidegger at Crime and Consequences, Allan Ides in The Sacramento Bee, Amy Vitale in an op-ed at The Hill, Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker, the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, Stephen Henderson in the Detroit Free Press, William Astore in The Huffington Post, Tony May in an op-ed for Penn Live, Philip Martin in an op-ed at ArkansasOnline, Paul Rosenberg at Salon, Ken Cline in an op-ed in the Portland Press-Herald, Ira Chernus in an op-ed in The Denver Post, and Lucia Graves in The Guardian.

Last Wednesday, the court issued a unanimous decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, holding that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires a school to offer an “individualized education program” reasonably calculated to allow the student to progress appropriately in light of the child’s circumstances. The ruling, which overturned as too low a standard Gorsuch had applied in a 2008 IDEA case, came as Gorsuch was discussing the prior case during his confirmation hearing. Coverage of the decision and its ripple effect at the hearing comes from Anya Kamenetz and Cory Turner at NPR, John Aguilar and Mark Matthews in The Denver Post, Richard Perez-Pena in The New York Times, Lauren Camera in U.S. News and World Report, Patrick Reilly in The Christian Science Monitor, Caitlin Emma at Politico, Laura McKenna in The Atlantic, Emily Willingham in Forbes, Cristian Farias in The Huffington Post, Tessa Berenson in Time, and Liz Goodwin at Yahoo News. Commentary comes from Eleanor Sheehan at popsugar.

At Education Week, Mark Walsh reports on the court’s decision on Wednesday in Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., which held that a feature of a useful article is copyrightable if it can be perceived as a separately protectable work, observing that the ruling gives “a V for victory to the dominant provider of cheerleader uniforms for schools, colleges, and spirit teams, ruling that some of its uniform designs were protected under federal copyright law.” Another look at the case comes from Patrick Hughes at Westlaw Journal Intellectual Property.

At Lock Law Blog, Ryan Lockman discusses Lee v. United States, an ineffective assistance of counsel case in which the lower court held that the defendant could not prove that he was prejudiced by his attorney’s erroneous advice to plead guilty, which resulted in mandatory deportation, because the evidence of his guilt was overwhelming, noting that at “issue is not just Lee’s fate, but also the Court’s view of the state of plea bargaining in this country.” At The Huffington Post, Manny Vargas weighs in on the case, arguing that all “Mr. Lee asks of the Court is that it reopen his criminal case so that it can be resolved properly and fairly based on correct information regarding the critical immigration implications for him of different possible dispositions of his case.”


  • At Bloomberg BNA, John Henry Stam reports on last week’s oral argument in Murr v. Wisconsin, in which the justices will decide what constitutes the “parcel as a whole” for the purpose of regulatory takings analysis, noting that “Justice Anthony M. Kennedy again appears to be the swing vote in a divided court.”
  • At Vinson & Elkins’ Lincoln’s Law Blog, Ralph Mayrell and John Elwood look at a pending cert petition in a False Claims Act case that asks whether relators can avail themselves of a statute of limitations tolling provision when the government has declined to intervene in the case.
  • At Written Description, Lisa Ouellette offers some “thoughts on the policy tradeoffs” at play in Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., a case that was argued last week in which the court considered the scope of the patent exhaustion doctrine; she notes that given “the relatively cold bench, it is difficult to predict where the Court will end up.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Monday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 27, 2017, 7:18 AM),