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Wednesday round-up

Today the Supreme Court hears its last two oral arguments of the term. First on the agenda is Quarles v. United States, which asks when a defendant must have formed the intent required to commit burglary for purposes of a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act. Rory Little previewed the case for this blog. Matt Farnum and Trevor O’Bryan have a preview at Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute.

Today’s second argument is in Taggart v. Lorenzen, in which the justices will consider whether, after a debtor receives a discharge in bankruptcy, a creditor’s good-faith belief that collection activity does not violate the discharge protects the creditor from sanctions for contempt. Ronald Mann had this blog’s preview. Luís Lozada and Jared Ham preview the case for Cornell.

Yesterday the justices heard oral argument in Department of Commerce v. New York, a high-profile challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. Amy Howe analyzes the argument for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court, reporting that “[a]fter roughly 80 minutes of often tense debate, the justices seemed divided along ideological lines, with the conservative justices appearing ready to uphold the use of the question.” At Courthouse News Service, Tim Ryan reports that “the Supreme Court’s more conservative justices seemed undisturbed … by evidence that it would distort census counts in 2020 to ask respondents about their citizenship.” Mark Walsh has this blog’s first-hand account of the argument, and Andrew Hamm rounded up early coverage and commentary for this blog. The Human Rights at Home Blog finds it “curious, and perhaps a harbinger of things to come, that Justice Kavanaugh raised an issue of international law and practice during the oral argument.” Additional commentary comes from Noah Feldman at Bloomberg and the editorial board of The Washington Times.

This blog’s coverage of yesterday’s afternoon’s argument in Mitchell v. Wisconsin, in which the justices considered a Fourth Amendment challenge to a state law allowing law enforcement to draw blood from unconscious drivers without a warrant, comes from Amy Howe, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. At USA Today, Richard Wolf reports that “[t]he Supreme Court generally frowns on drunk or drugged drivers,” but “it also believes that police usually need warrants to conduct searches”; this case “presented the justices with two things they don’t like, and it divided them almost down the middle.” At Bloomberg Law, Kimberly Robinson reports that during yesterday afternoon’s other 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, “[s]everal justices seemed hostile to the government’s position that it doesn’t have to prove that a defendant knew their immigration status in order to be convicted of a federal firearms crime.”

Yesterday the court dismissed as improvidently granted Emulex Corp. v. Varjabedian, a securities case that was argued last week about whether securities investors can sue a company for negligently failing to provide adequate information for the investors to use in evaluating the price of a tender offer. Ronald Mann covers the dismissal for this blog. Additional coverage comes from Rachel Graf at Law360 (subscription required), who reports that “during oral arguments last week, a number of justices seemed unconvinced that the case was the best vehicle for the claims since Emulex didn’t raise the question of a private right of action before any of the lower courts.”

Charlotte Garden analyzes Monday’s argument in Fort Bend County v. Davis, which asks whether Title VII’s requirement that a plaintiff exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit is a jurisdictional prerequisite or a claim-processing rule that can be waived by an employer, for this blog. At Law360 (subscription required), Braden Campbell reports that the court “appeared to be leaning … toward ruling that courts can hear job bias claims even if workers don’t bring them to government enforcers first.” This blog’s analysis of Monday’s other argument, in Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, in which the justices considered how to interpret the term “confidential” in a Freedom of Information Act exemption in case of newspaper seeking data revealing where SNAP recipients purchase groceries, comes from Mark Fenster.


  • At Reason’s Volokh Conspiracy blog, Samuel Bray looks at Putnam Investments, LLC v. Brotherston, a case “about the burden of proving causation for losses in ERISA suits” in which the court yesterday asked the federal government to provide its views.
  • At The Interdependent Third Branch, M. Ryan Groff considers Justice Clarence Thomas’ remarks during a recent public appearance in which Thomas “questioned the meaning of oaths made by atheists”; Groff remarks that “Thomas is not wrong to indicate that faith can play an important role in compelling a judge to serve dutifully in his important role in our nation’s courts, but based on the existence of the affirmation alternative as early as 1789 it would also be improper to question the meaning of those same commitments made by judges without such faith.”
  • At the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty blog, Walter Olson observes that three new additions to next term’s docket that ask whether federal employment discrimination law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity will bring to the forefront the “philosophical divides on statutory interpretation” that “play out every term in lower-profile cases.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 24, 2019, 7:04 AM),