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Wednesday round-up

This morning the Supreme Court wraps up its January session with oral arguments in two cases. First on the agenda is a reargument in Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, which asks whether the court should reconsider a precedent that requires property owners to exhaust state remedies before bringing federal takings claims under the Constitution. Miriam Seifter had this blog’s preview. Isaac Syed and Yuexin Angela Zhu preview the case for Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. The second case today is Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, a challenge to Tennessee’s durational residency requirements for liquor licensing. Amy Howe had this blog’s preview, which first appeared at Howe on the Court. Cornell’s preview comes from Matt Farnum and Brady Plastaras.

Yesterday the justices issued two opinions. In New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, the court held 8-0 that an exemption in the Federal Arbitration Act for transportation workers involved in interstate commerce applies to independent contractors. Ronald Mann analyzes the opinion for this blog. At The Employment Law Group, R. Scott Oswald writes that “[t]he court’s recent FAA jurisprudence may have revived the Gilded Age fiction that employment agreements are voluntary contracts — when, in truth, most workers have no option but to accept their terms — but Oliveira at least proves that the justices’ historical predilections may cut both ways[:] Here, a worker-friendly outcome was reached by entering the minds of 1920s legislators.” Another look at the opinion comes from Mark Joseph Stern at Slate.

In Stokeling v. United States, the justices ruled 5-4 yesterday that a state-law robbery conviction can qualify as a “violent felony” for the purposes of a sentencing enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act even when the conviction does not require the use of violent force. At Crime & Consequences, Kent Scheidegger writes that with this ruling, the Supreme Court “took a step back from the brink of irrationality in sentencing.”

This blog’s analysis of Monday’s argument in Thacker v. Tennessee Valley Authority, in which the court will decide whether an implied discretionary function exception bars a negligence claim against the TVA, comes from Gregory Sisk. Ronald Mann has this blog’s analysis of Monday’s argument in Rimini Street Inc. v. Oracle USA Inc. , in which the justices considered whether the term “full costs” awarded to a prevailing party in a copyright case is limited to taxable costs or also authorizes nontaxable costs.


  • At the Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen looks at how yesterday’s district-court decision blocking the federal government from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census may affect the census-related case scheduled for argument before the Supreme Court next month.
  • For Capitol Media Services (via the Arizona Capitol Times), Howard Fischer reports that “[t]he U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to reinstate a 2002 voter-approved amendment to the Arizona Constitution which denied bail to anyone accused of rape.”
  • At the Goldwater Institute’s In Defense of Liberty blog, Adi Dynar urges the justices to review a challenge to rules governing adoptions under the Indian Child Welfare Act that a lower court dismissed “on the grounds that because our clients’ adoption cases had all reached their conclusions, the case was legally ‘moot.’”
  • At ThinkProgress, Ian Millhiser suggests that “an easy-to-miss order on Monday holding in favor of Larry Lamont White, a Kentucky man sentenced to death for a 1983 murder,” over a dissent by Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, “fits into an emerging pattern within the Supreme Court” of some degree of division “between the more nihilistic Republicans and their two more measured colleagues.”
  • At The Interdependent Third Branch, Lawrence Friedman looks at two recent examples of how Chief Justice John Roberts, “speak[ing] with the authority of his office outside the confines of the Court’s written opinions,” maximizes his “opportunities … to ensure all of us that, regardless of how they rule in particular cases, the federal courts are just going about their business.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 16, 2019, 6:43 AM),