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Wednesday round-up

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued orders from last Friday’s conference. The justices agreed to review a challenge to New York City’s restrictions on the transportation of licensed handguns, in a case that may not be heard until next term. They also denied the federal government’s request to review lower-court orders banning implementation of the Trump administration’s ban on service in the military by most transgender people, but, by a 5-4 vote, they reinstated the ban while appeals are pending in the lower courts. Amy Howe covers the order list for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. Robert Barnes writes for The Washington Post that “[t]wo somewhat contradictory sides of the new Supreme Court were on display Tuesday: The justices extended their efforts to maintain a low-key term mostly free of hot-button issues, while at the same time the court’s reinforced conservatives gave notice that big changes may be on the way.”

For USA Today, Richard Wolf reports that by agreeing to hear the New York gun case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York, “the court ended a string of refusals in Second Amendment cases dating back to its landmark rulings in 2008 and 2010, which upheld the fundamental right to keep guns at home for self-defense.” For The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin reports that “[o]n a closely divided court, the pivotal vote could rest with Chief Justice John Roberts,” but that “the spotlight may shine particularly bright on Justice Kavanaugh, whose expansive view of gun rights while a lower-court judge came into play during confirmation hearings last fall.” Additional coverage comes from Kevin Daley at The Daily Caller. At the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, Ruthann Robson writes that “this grant of certiorari has the potential to determine the level of scrutiny to be applied to gun regulations.”

For The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Dan Lamothe report that the Trump administration’s transgender military policy that had been blocked by the lower courts “reversed an Obama administration rule that would have opened the military to transgender men and women and instead barred those who identify with a gender different from the one assigned at birth and who are seeking to transition.” Additional coverage of the court’s actions in the transgender-military ban cases comes from Kevin Daley at The Daily Caller. Stanford Law School’s Legal Aggregate Blog offers a Q&A about the cases with law professor Jane Schacter. Lisa Keen looks at the cases at Keen News Service.

For The New York Times, Adam Liptak reports that the court “took no action on Tuesday on the Trump administration’s plans to shut down a program that shields some 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation,” and that “[t]he court’s inaction almost certainly means it will not hear the administration’s challenge in its current term, which ends in June.” Additional coverage comes from Lydia Wheeler at The Hill and from Priscilla Alvarez and Ariane de Vogue at CNN.

Amy Howe reports for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court, that the justices also granted a request by an unnamed corporation to file a cert petition under seal in a case arising out of a subpoena thought to be connected to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. At Bloomberg, Greg Stohr reports that “[t]he new appeal is heavily redacted,” and that “[i]t doesn’t mention Mueller or provide any details about the type of information being sought. The appeal contends the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act shields foreign companies from having to cooperate with U.S. criminal investigations.”

At Education Week’s School Law Blog, Mark Walsh reports that the court “declined to hear the appeal of a high school football coach who was effectively dismissed by his Washington state school district for praying on the field immediately after games[; f]our justices signaled that they were troubled by the coach’s dismissal and the handling of his case by two lower courts, but that unresolved factual questions made the appeal unsuitable for high court review.” Pamela King and Ellen Gilmer report at E&E News that the justices also “turned down a sweeping challenge to pipeline oversight and took no action on a closely watched Clean Water Act debate.”At Crime & Consequences, Kent Scheidegger wonders why it took the court so long to deny cert without comment in two cases alleging racial disparities in the administration of Oklahoma’s capital-sentencing scheme, noting that one of the cases “was distributed for conference twenty-six times.”

Yesterday the court issued one opinion, ruling unanimously in Helsinn Healthcare v. Teva Pharmaceuticals, that an invention is “on sale,” and therefore cannot be patented, if the inventor made a private sale of the invention before seeking a patent. Ronald Mann analyzes the opinion for this blog.

At, Marcia Coyle reports that “[t]he Trump administration on Tuesday said it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule a federal judge’s decision that rejected the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 census.” Additional coverage comes from Kevin Daley at The Daily Caller, who reports that “Tuesday’s filing from the government is the latest in a succession of cases in which the Trump administration has short-circuited normal judicial process and asked the Supreme Court to review a district court decision before a federal appeals court does.”


  • At NPR, Nina Totenberg remarks that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “has been more transparent than most” about her health issues; she takes a look back at the murky “history of Supreme Court justices and their health.”
  • NFIB looks at the employment and labor cases on the Supreme Court’s certiorari docket.
  • At his eponymous blog, Ross Runkel notes that the recent decision in New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, in which the court held that an exemption in the Federal Arbitration Act for transportation workers involved in interstate commerce applies to independent contractors, “could have a big effect on lawsuits between Uber and their drivers.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 23, 2019, 7:07 AM),