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Tuesday round-up

Yesterday a unanimous court ruled in Thacker v. Tennessee Valley Authority that the TVA can generally be sued for personal-injury claims, and sent the case back for the lower court to determine whether this particular claim can proceed. Gregory Sisk analyzes the opinion for this blog. Y. Peter Kang and Jimmy Hoover report for Law360 (subscription required) that the ruling “reviv[es] a sports fisherman’s negligence suit against the quasi-government utility.” At Bloomberg Law, Jordan Rubin reports that Justice Elena “Kagan’s opinion gives instructions for the lower court on remand, telling it to first decide whether the TVA’s alleged negligent conduct is governmental or commercial in nature,” and then, if the former, to determine whether “a more limited type of immunity” applies.

Yesterday the justices also issued orders from Friday’s conference, adding no cases to their merits document and requesting the views of the solicitor general in Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., which asks whether copyright protection extends to software interfaces. At Bloomberg, Susan Decker reports that “Google is challenging an appeals court ruling that it violated Oracle copyrights when it included some Oracle-owned Java programming code in Android, the dominant operating system in mobile devices.” [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioner in this case.] Amy Howe covers the order list for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. At Education Week’s School Law Blog, Mark Walsh reports that the court declined to take up a case that “involved the right of public unions in many states to be the exclusive representative for all employees in a bargaining unit, and whether nonmembers have First Amendment speech and associational interests in not being represented if they object.” Kevin Daley reports at The Daily Caller that the court also “rejected former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s bid to remove a court-appointed special prosecutor from his case.”

In the most recent episode of SCOTUStalk, Kimberly Robinson joins Amy Howe to discuss last week’s oral argument in Department of Commerce v. New York, a challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. For The New York Times, Adam Liptak observes that references by two conservative justices to the practices of other countries “illuminated a debate that has been unfolding for about two decades over whether the Supreme Court should look abroad for points of comparison.” At SCOTUS OA, Tonja Jacobi and Matthew Sag predict a 5-4 win for the government. Additional commentary comes from Ciara Torres-Spelliscy at the Brennan Center for Justice, who argues that “adding a citizenship question in 2020 is likely to ruin the count”; if “the Roberts Supreme Court allows this, it will be on the nativist side of history in a nation of immigrants.”


  • At, Marcia Coyle reports that a “committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States has been asked to review orders dismissing misconduct complaints against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh that stem from his 2017 U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings.”
  • At Letters Blogatory, Ted Folkman finds last week’s decision in Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela, which held 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, “difficult to explain,” noting that “it’s not clear why the justices thought their view of the merits of class arbitration should take the question out of the ordinary ambit of state law.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 30, 2019, 7:10 AM),