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Thursday round-up

The court released three more opinions yesterday, all of them unanimous. In Holguin-Hernandez v. United States, the court held that a criminal defendant is not required to object formally to his sentence to preserve a challenge to the length of the sentence on appeal. Rory Little analyzes the opinion for this blog. The justices decided in Shular v. United States that a state drug offense is not required to match the elements of a generic analogue offense in order to qualify as a “serious drug offense” under the Armed Career Criminal Act, which enhances the sentences of repeat offenders who commit crimes involving guns. This blog’s opinion analysis comes from Leah Litman.

And in Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, the court ruled that a plaintiff suing retirement-plan fiduciaries is not presumed to have “actual knowledge” of fraud, triggering a shorter window for suing, when relevant information is revealed in mandatory disclosures that the plaintiff did not read. Natalya Schnitser analyzes the opinion for this blog. At his eponymous blog, Ross Runkel observes that “[t]he US Supreme Court can get behind being unanimous when faced with a statutory phrase that is written in ‘plain and unambiguous statutory language.’”

At NPR, Nina Totenberg covers Tuesday’s decision in Hernandez v. Mesa, noting that “[t]he vote was 5-to-4 with the court’s conservative justices refusing to allow damage suits for cross-border shootings, and the court’s liberal justices castigating the court’s majority for giving a free pass to the ‘rogue actions’ of law enforcement officers.” For The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Brent Kendall and Jess Bravin report that “Tuesday’s separate 5-4 decision in [an] Arizona murder case,” McKinney v. Arizona, “highlighted the Supreme Court’s growing split in death-penalty litigation.” At Subscript Law, Abdel-Rahman Hamed provides a graphic explainer for the decision in McKinney.

Gabriel Chin analyzes Tuesday’s oral argument in United States v. Sineneng-Smith, a First Amendment challenge to a federal law making it a crime to encourage or cause illegal immigration for financial gain, for this blog. Daniel Hemel has this blog’s analysis of Tuesday’s opinion in Rodriguez v. FDIC, in which the court held that a judicially created rule how courts should determine ownership of a tax refund paid to an affiliated corporate group is not a legitimate exercise of federal common law rulemaking.


  • For The Washington Post (subscription required), Harrison Smith reports that “Lawrence G. Wallace, a Justice Department official who risked his career over a high-profile discrimination case and went on to argue more Supreme Court cases than any lawyer in the modern era, died Feb. 13 at a hospital in Rockville, Md.,” at the age of 88.
  • At Crime & Consequences, Kent Scheidegger hopes that the Supreme Court will move quickly to replace Mathena v. Malvo, which involved life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders and which was dismissed yesterday at the request of both parties, with another case raising the same issue, “and not get derailed by the mootness of the Malvo.
  • At RealClear Policy, Timothy Sandefur urges the court to review Fleck v. Wetch, a challenge to North Dakota’s law requiring attorneys licensed in the state to be members of the state bar association, “and make clear that no one can be forced to surrender his First Amendment rights just to do his job.” [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the respondent in this case.]
  • At Dorf on Law, Michael Dorf takes issue with Justice Clarence Thomas’ claim, which Thomas reiterated on Monday in his dissent from denial of cert in Baldwin v. United States, that Chevron deference is unconstitutional.
  • At Vox, Ian Millhiser explains why the decision in June Medical Services v. Russo, a challenge to Louisiana’s law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, “could very well be a disaster for abortion rights even if the Court claims that it is leaving Roe in place.”
  • The latest episode of Strict Scrutiny (podcast) “proclaims victory for gender parity and previews two cases (US v. Sineneng-Smith and Seila v. CFPB).”
  • In an op-ed for The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse worries about “the growing threat that an increasingly weaponized free-exercise clause poses to civil society,” particularly now that the court has agreed to consider whether to “overturn a 30-year-old decision, Employment Division v. Smith, which held that as a general matter, the … free-exercise clause provides no exemption from a generally applicable law, so long as the law wasn’t enacted to target religion.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 27, 2020, 6:40 AM),