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Tuesday round-up

Today the court will hear oral argument in 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. Amy Howe previewed the case for this blog. Karen Smeda and Natalia San Juan preview the case for Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute.

Yesterday the court agreed to review two cases and asked for the views of the acting solicitor general in a third. Amy Howe covers the orders list for this blog.

Yesterday the court also heard oral argument in 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. Mark Walsh covers the argument for Education Week, noting that hundreds “of religious schools and their employees are watching” the case “with intense interest,” and that the “justices had tough questions for both sides in the hospitals’ case before them.” Commentary comes from Jessica Mason Pieklo in Rewire, who points out that if “the Roberts Court sides with the businesses, that could mean approximately 95,000 employees would have less savings and fewer comprehensive benefits than the law would normally require.”

The second oral argument yesterday was in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Brands Group LLC, a case about the venue rules for patent infringement lawsuits. In The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Tony Mauro reports that the justices “did not appear eager to upset the patent litigation landscape by drastically limiting where infringement lawsuits can be filed.”

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. Coverage comes from Christopher Tidmore in The Louisiana Weekly, Patty Miller in The Edmond Sun, Anya Kamenetz and Cory Turner at WJCT, Commentary comes from Walt Gardner at Education Week, Helen Moss at The Huffington Post, and the editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader.


  • The World and Everything in It (podcast) features discussions of last week’s arguments in Murr v. Wisconsin, Howell v. Howell and Microsoft Corp. v. Baker.
  • At his eponymous blog, Ed Mannino discusses the pending cert petition in Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case filed by a Colorado man with religious objections to creating a cake for a same-sex wedding celebration, questioning whether it is “legally justifiable to subordinate sincerely held and constitutionally protected religious beliefs to a same sex couple’s statutory rights when the discrimination undoubtedly creates at least psychic or dignitary harm to the couple, but is devoid of any economic impact on them, and leaves them with easy access to the product elsewhere.”
  • At the Associated Press, Curt Anderson reports on a pending cert petition in the case of a litigant who “won an improbable longshot victory when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with him that his floating home was a house, not a vessel subject to seizure by a Florida city” and who now “is asking the justices to enforce their ruling by forcing the city pay him legal fees and reimburse him for the home’s value after it was seized and destroyed.”
  • In Supreme Court Brief (subscription or registration required), Tony Mauro reports that a lawyer appointed by the court for the second time in less than a year to “represent an orphaned position in a case before the court” this time in a habeas case from Georgia learned yesterday that his appointment had been revoked after the Georgia attorney general changed positions.
  • At FiveThirtyEight, Kevin Cope and Joshua Fischman “reviewed more than 900 Tenth Circuit cases decided during [Judge Neil]Gorsuch’s tenure, including 119 in which he participated,” focusing on “immigration and employment discrimination law,” concluding that Gorsuch “looks relatively centrist in these areas.”
  • At Empirical SCOTUS, Adam Feldman examines voting patterns on the court since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, noting that “the middle of the Court may have shifted slightly and it will be interesting to see if there continue to be new unifications between some Justices as well as polarizations between others.”
  • In an op-ed at Law360 (registration required), Douglas Lindholm weighs in on a pending cert petition in two state tax cases that ask when retroactive tax legislation is “so patently unfair that it violates the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution,” arguing that upholding “retroactive tax legislation subject only to a state’s unfettered discretion to behave reasonably undermines the rule of law and makes a mockery of due process protections afforded to taxpayers under the U.S. Constitution.”
  • At the Academy of Achievement’s What It Takes podcast, Justice Sonia Sotomayor shares her personal story in an interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg.

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 28, 2017, 6:48 AM),