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Thursday round-up

Yesterday the court ruled 5-4 in Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela that the Federal Arbitration Act bars interpretation of an arbitration agreement under state law that would allow class arbitration based on general language commonly used in arbitration agreements. Greg Stohr reports at Bloomberg that the “ruling said courts shouldn’t allow class arbitration unless an agreement clearly authorizes that type of proceeding.” For The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin reports that “[t]he case is the latest in a string of decisions that have given the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act wide powers to displace traditional legal remedies, prioritizing business interests in reducing liability over providing redress to consumers and employees alleging injuries.” Richard Wolf reports for USA Today that “the court’s four liberal justices were so incensed that they each wrote separate dissents totaling 31 pages.” Additional coverage comes from Tony Mauro at, Andrew Chung at Reuters and Adam Liptak for The New York Times. Ross Runkel discusses the opinion at his eponymous blog. At CPR Speaks, Echo Wang and Russ Bleemer observe that the decision “demonstrates the court’s profound conservative-liberal split.”

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse looks at the court’s decision Monday to review three cases that ask whether federal law protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender identity, suggesting that the justices’ rephrasing of the question the employer had asked the court to decide in one of the cases indicates that “there was an extended negotiation among the justices, aimed at crafting questions that would open up the case rather than skew it in the employer’s direction.” At Rewire.News, Imani Gandy explores the implications for the cases of a 1989 case, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, that, she writes, “barred gender stereotyping—discrimination based on someone failing to act and appear according to societal expectations defined by gender.”


  • Amy Howe reports for this blog, in a post that was first published at Howe on the Court, that yesterday the court refused to block last night’s execution of John William King, who had been sentenced to death for “a gruesome crime that spurred tougher hate-crime laws.”
  • Evan Lee has this blog’s coverage of Tuesday afternoon’s argument in Rehaif v. United States, which asks whether, to convict defendant in U.S. illegally for violating a federal gun-possession law, prosecutors must show that defendant knew he was in the country illegally.
  • At the National League of Cities’ CitiesSpeak blog, Lisa Soronen writes that, after Tuesday’s oral argument in Department of Commerce v. New York, “it seems likely the 2020 census will contain a question about citizenship.”
  • In the latest episode of the Heritage Foundation’s SCOTUS 101 podcast, “Hans von Spakovsky joins Elizabeth Slattery to talk about the Title VII sex discrimination cases coming to SCOTUS next term and the oral argument in a case challenging the Trump Administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.”
  • At The George Washington Law Review’s On the Docket blog, Richard Pierce explains why “[i]t would be easy to interpret the six-Justice majority opinion in Biestek v. Berryhill,” holding that an administrative judge in a social security disability benefits case can rely on testimony by a vocational expert that applicant can do “other work,” even if the expert does not provide the data she used to form her opinion, “as an invitation to agencies to make important decisions based on junk science, i.e., opinions of putative experts that are not supported by reliable data or analysis.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 25, 2019, 6:57 AM),