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Justices release March calendar

The Supreme Court released the calendar for its March sitting, which begins on March 19. The justices will hear nine hours of oral argument over six days, with three of those days featuring two hours of argument each and the other three slated for just one hour each.

One of the highest-profile cases of the sitting will be argued on Tuesday, March 20: National Institute of Family Life Advocates v. Becerra, a First Amendment challenge to a California law that requires crisis pregnancy centers – which oppose abortion – to disclose specific kinds of information (either notices regarding the availability of low-cost abortions or disclaimers stating that they do not provide medical help, depending on the type of services that the centers offer) to the pregnant women who seek their assistance. The justices will close out the sitting on Wednesday, March 28, with another much-anticipated case: Benisek v. Lamone, in which a group of Maryland residents allege that the state’s Democratic election officials gerrymandered a federal congressional district to retaliate against them for their support of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican who served in Congress for decades.

The other cases slated for argument in March, along with the issues presented in each case, are:

Salt River Project v. Solarcity Corp. (March 19): Whether an order denying state-action immunity to public entities is immediately appealable under the collateral-order doctrine.

Sveen v. Melin (March 19): Whether a state law providing that the designation of a spouse as a beneficiary (for example, of a life insurance policy) is automatically revoked if the couple divorces violates the Constitution’s contracts clause – which bars states from enacting laws that impair contracts – when the state law is applied to a contract that was signed before the law was enacted.

Upper Skagit Indian Tribe v. Lundgren (March 21): Whether a lawsuit against an Indian tribe can go forward, despite the tribe’s sovereign immunity, when a court is exercising jurisdiction over property, rather than a tribe.

United States v. Sanchez-Gomez (March 26): Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit should have reviewed a challenge by a group of individuals who were detained before trial to a policy of using full restraints for a variety of nonjury proceedings when the case was interlocutory and the court of appeals had recognized that the individuals’ own claims were moot.

China Agritech v. Resh (March 26): Whether previously absent members can file new class actions because the limitations period is tolled while the earlier would-be class actions are pending.

Hughes v. United States (March 27): Whether an inmate who enters into a plea bargain under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) – which specifies that an attorney for the government will agree that a specific sentence is appropriate – is eligible to have his sentence reduced later if the sentencing guidelines are changed.

Koons v. United States (March 27): Whether a defendant who is subject to a statutory mandatory minimum sentence, but who substantially assisted the government and received a sentence below the mandatory minimum, is eligible for an additional sentence reduction if the Sentencing Commission retroactively lowers the advisory sentencing guidelines range that would have applied in the absence of the statutory mandatory minimum.

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Justices release March calendar, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 24, 2018, 3:53 PM),