This week we highlight petitions pending before the Supreme Court that involve, among other things, whether the due process clause requires that a child receive an individualized hearing before being placed in criminal court to be tried as an adult, whether qualified immunity is an affirmative defense that state actors must assert or a shield that federal appellate courts may raise on their own initiative, and whether a district court’s discretion to vary from the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s sentencing guidelines based on a policy disagreement applies to the child pornography guidelines.

The petitions of the week are below the jump:

Hunt v. Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico
19-1225
Issue: Whether the Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico violated Paul Hunt’s clearly established rights as a private citizen under the First Amendment by punishing him for his off-campus, political speech.

Demma v. United States
19-1260
Issues: (1) Whether the discretion recognized under Kimbrough v. United States for a district court to vary from the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s sentencing guidelines based on a policy disagreement applies to the child pornography guidelines, as held by the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2nd, 3rd and 9th Circuits, or whether that discretion is limited or foreclosed altogether, as held by the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 5th, 6th and 11th Circuits; and (2) whether substantive-reasonableness review under Gall v. United States requires an appeals court to reassess the relative weight assigned by the district court to each of the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors, as held by the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 6th and 11th Circuits, or whether such reweighing is impermissible, as held by the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 1st, 2nd and 10th Circuits.

Fussell v. Louisiana
19-1278
Issues: (1) Whether the due process clause requires that a child receive an individualized hearing before being placed in criminal court to be tried as an adult; and (2) whether a state statute that places children in the exclusive jurisdiction of the state’s juvenile courts creates a liberty interest that is protected by the due process clause.

Idaho Department of Correction v. Edmo
19-1280
Issues: (1) Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit erred in concluding that the guidelines set by an advocacy organization – providing for sex reassignment surgery instead of hormone therapy and counseling for gender dysphoria – constitute the constitutional minima for inmate medical care under the Eighth Amendment, when the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 1st, 5th, 10th and 11th Circuits have all concluded that they do not; and (2) whether the 9th Circuit’s holding that a prison health-care provider’s individualized medical decision was unreasonable and therefore constituted deliberate indifference, regardless of his subjective reasoning, conflicts with Estelle v. Gamble, holding that mere negligence does not establish deliberate indifference, and Farmer v. Brennan, holding the provider must have known of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm to find deliberate indifference.

Hamner v. Burls
19-1291
Issues: (1) Whether qualified immunity is an affirmative defense that state actors must assert, as nine U.S. Courts of Appeals hold, or whether federal appellate courts may raise the defense sua sponte, as three U.S. Courts of Appeals hold; and (2) whether the Supreme Court should reconsider Pearson v. Callahan in light of empirical evidence that bypassing the constitutional prong results in a constitutional catch-22, increasingly leaving pressing questions unanswered simply because they have not been answered before.

Posted in Hamner v. Burls, Idaho Department of Correction v. Edmo, Fussell v. Louisiana, Demma v. U.S., Hunt v. Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico, Cases in the Pipeline

Recommended Citation: Andrew Hamm, Petitions of the week, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 11, 2020, 10:00 AM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2020/06/petitions-of-the-week-98/