Breaking News

Petitions of the week: Snapchat discipline, sex offender registration, deportation proceedings and more

This week we highlight cert petitions that ask the Supreme Court to decide whether schools may discipline students for off-campus social media posts, whether sex offender registration is punishment, and whether a deported immigrant received effective assistance of counsel, among other petitions.

In the landmark 1969 case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, the Supreme Court recognized that students have First Amendment rights at public schools. However, the court also allowed school officials to discipline students whose speech “would materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.” In Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., a Pennsylvania high school student sent two messages on Snapchat to 250 people that criticized the cheerleading program. After coaches removed the student from the team, the student and her parents filed suit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled that “Tinker does not apply to off-campus speech.” Arguing that the 3rd Circuit’s decision conflicts with decisions of five courts of appeals and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the school district’s petition asks the justices to decide whether Tinker allows school officials to regulate student speech that occurs off campus.

Maryland v. Rogers addresses whether sex offender registration is “punishment” within the meaning of the Sixth and 14th Amendments. Jimmie Rogers pleaded guilty to a Maryland criminal law that provides that a person may not knowingly “take or cause another to be taken to any place for prostitution.” Because the victim’s age was not an element of the offense, the prosecution did not present evidence of her age. However, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services determined that the victim was a minor. After Rogers’ release from prison, the department classified him as a Tier II sex offender, which requires registration for 25 years for human-trafficking offenses against minors. In contrast, a Tier I sex offender must register for only 15 years and may petition for removal after 10 years. The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, determined that sex offender registration constitutes punishment for which the state must prove all elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The Maryland attorney general’s petition asks the justices to review that decision, arguing that it conflicts with two Supreme Court decisions and other lower-court and state-court decisions.

In Juarez v. Colorado, Alfredo Juarez pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possessing pyrovalerone, a controlled substance. In return, the state dropped a felony possession charge. After violating his drug court probation, Juarez was placed in state custody and ultimately deported. Juarez filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that his counsel provided constitutionally deficient advice. Juarez maintains that counsel advised him that a misdemeanor plea would “probably” result in deportation and that immigration officials may look more favorably upon a misdemeanor than a felony. In fact, Juarez argues, his guilty plea ultimately made his deportation mandatory under federal law. After the Colorado Supreme Court rejected Juarez’s claim because he understood the guilty plea would make him “deportable,” Juarez filed a cert petition before the U.S. Supreme Court.

These and other petitions of the week are below:

Lebamoff Enterprises Inc. v. Whitmer
Issue: Whether a state liquor law that allows in-state retailers to ship wine directly to consumers, but prohibits out-of-state retailers from doing so, is invalid under the nondiscrimination principle of the commerce clause or is a valid exercise of the state’s 21st amendment authority to regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages within its borders.

Juarez v. Colorado
Issue: Whether, when there is no dispute that a guilty plea will trigger mandatory deportation pursuant to federal law, defense counsel must advise a noncitizen-defendant that the plea will result in deportation as a matter of law, or whether it is sufficient for defense counsel to caution that the plea could make the noncitizen-defendant “deportable” or that it will “probably” result in deportation.

Massie v. Mena
Issues: (1) Whether, under the particular facts and circumstances of this case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit erred in finding that Robert Massie’s actions constituted an excessive use of force in violation of the Fourth Amendment; and (2) whether, regardless of the answer to the first issue, the district court and 9th Circuit nonetheless erred in denying qualified immunity to Massie when it was not clearly established at the time of the incident (or now) that his actions constituted an excessive use of force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.
Issue: Whether Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, which holds that public school officials may regulate speech that would materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school, applies to student speech that occurs off campus.

Jordan v. United States
Issue: Whether each separate conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) — under which “any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime . . . uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm” commits an offense — requires only a separate predicate crime of violence or drug trafficking offense, as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 3rd, 4th and 8th Circuits have held, or also requires a separate act of using, carrying or possessing a firearm, as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th and District of Columbia Circuits have held.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. v. Scott
Issue: Whether a district court may consider factors other than the presence of a single material question of law or fact common to a group of employees when assessing whether the employees are “similarly situated” for purposes of the collective-action provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Maryland v. Rogers
Issue: Whether the Court of Appeals of Maryland departed from the Supreme Court’s decisions in Smith v. Doe and Apprendi v. New Jersey in holding, contrary to the decisions of numerous federal courts of appeals and state supreme courts, that sex offender registration constitutes “punishment” within the meaning of the Sixth and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution, and that, as a result, any fact necessary for placement on the sex offender registry, such as the victim’s age, must be determined beyond a reasonable doubt during the criminal proceeding, even if that fact is not an element of the criminal offense that is the basis for registration.

Retirement Plans Committee of IBM v. Jander
Issues: (1) Whether Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer’s “more harm than good” standard can be satisfied by generalized allegations that the harm of an inevitable disclosure of an alleged fraud generally increases over time and thus plan fiduciaries should have made earlier disclosures through regular securities-law filings; and (2) whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act imposes a duty on a plan fiduciary who is also a corporate officer to use inside information for the benefit of plan participants.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. New Mexico, ex rel. Balderas
Issues: (1) Whether the federal government or a state government, as the real party in interest in a qui tam action brought in its name and litigated to judgment with its full knowledge, is bound by a final judgment on the merits when that government has declined to intervene; and (2) whether a state court may establish a novel “public policy” exception to the res judicata effect of a concededly final federal judgment when that exception runs to the exclusive benefit of a single party, the government.

Recommended Citation: Andrew Hamm, Petitions of the week: Snapchat discipline, sex offender registration, deportation proceedings and more, SCOTUSblog (Sep. 25, 2020, 3:30 PM),