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A habeas circuit split and Ohio’s public-sector unions

This week we highlight cert petitions that ask the Supreme Court to consider, among other things, when a habeas corpus filing is a barred “second or successive” petition and whether Ohio’s exclusive representation for public-sector unions violates non-consenting public-sector employees’ First Amendment rights.

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 places procedural limits on prisoners’ ability to have courts re-open their cases after their initial appeals are exhausted. In particular, AEDPA allows one petition for complete “collateral” review but restricts “second or successive” petitions to certain circumstances. In his petition in Balbuena v. Cates, Alexander Balbuena maintains that lower courts are split over when collateral review ends and subsequent filings are “second or successive.” In two circuits, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit after a ruling by then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the first petition is not complete while any appeals remain pending. As a result, any petitions filed during those appellate proceedings are not yet “second or successive” and are not barred by AEDPA. In other circuits, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in this case, any petition filed after the district court’s ruling on the first petition, regardless of pending appeals, is “second or successive.”

In Balbuena’s case, detectives interviewing Balbuena in an interrogation room advised him of his right to an attorney prior to questioning, without adding that he had a right to counsel during the questioning. Balbuena then confessed his role in a murder. On direct appeal and after his first petition, courts rejected Balbuena’s argument that his confession was involuntary. As his appeal was pending at the 9th Circuit, Balbuena received permission to amend his petition in the district court, and he introduced a new argument: The detectives had violated Miranda v. Arizona by not advising him of his right to counsel during interrogation. Because the district court had already ruled on Balbuena’s first petition, his new argument in the amended filing was a barred “second or successive” petition. On the ground that other circuits would have allowed him to make his new argument, Balbuena asks for Supreme Court review.

In 2017’s Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, a divided Supreme Court ruled that Illinois’ extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violated the First Amendment. In Thompson v. Marietta Education Association, Jade Thompson brings a First Amendment challenge to an Ohio law that makes public-sector unions the exclusive representative for public-sector employees in a bargaining unit, such as a school district. Thompson, a Spanish teacher at Marietta High School, disagrees with positions taken by her representative, the Marietta Education Association, including, for example, its advertisements opposing her late husband’s bid for public office. Quoting language from Janus, she argues that exclusive representation nonetheless compels her to support these positions in violation of the First Amendment. The lower courts rejected Thompson’s argument because of the Supreme Court’s 1984 decision in Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight. In that case, the court ruled that the plaintiff college professors did not have a right to participate in a public employer’s “meet and confer” process with an exclusive representation. Thompson asks the justices to distinguish Knight from the facts of her case or to overrule it entirely.

These and other petitions of the week are below:

American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. v. Neapco Holdings LLC
Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to SCOTUSblog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the respondents in this case.
Issues: (1) What standard determines whether a patent claim is “directed to” a patent-ineligible concept under step 1 of the Supreme Court’s two-step framework for determining whether an invention is eligible for patenting under 35 U.S.C. § 101; and (2) whether patent eligibility (at each step of the Supreme Court’s two-step framework) is a question of law for the court based on the scope of the claims or a question of fact for the jury based on the state of art at the time of the patent.
Thompson v. Marietta Education Association
Issues: (1) Whether it violates the First Amendment to designate a labor union to represent and speak for public-sector employees who object to its advocacy on their behalf; and (2) whether Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight, which upheld a Minnesota restriction on participation in “meet and confer” sessions to the faculty’s exclusive representative, should be overruled.
Doe v. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Inc.
Issues: (1) Whether, on de novo consideration of a benefits claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, summary judgment must be denied if there is a genuine dispute of material fact; and (2) whether, on de novo consideration of an ERISA benefits claim and absent a challenge to the plan’s procedures, a district court has discretion to consider evidence that was not part of the record before the plan administrator.
American Hospital Association v. Cochran
Issue: Whether deference under Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council applies to a statutory interpretation question that determines both the lawfulness of agency action and the court’s jurisdiction.
Flynn v. United States
Issues: (1) Whether the due process clause of the United States Constitution, as discussed in McCarthy v. United States and more recent decisions of the Supreme Court, requires discussion in open court of the elements of an 18 U.S.C. § 371 conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (Klein Conspiracy) offense to advise the defendant of the nature of the charges against him before a guilty plea is accepted; (2) whether the requirement for a nexus between a particular administrative proceeding and a taxpayer’s conduct is necessary to save the constitutionality of a conviction under an 18 U.S.C. § 371 conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (Klein Conspiracy) after the Supreme Court’s decision in Marinello v. United States; and (3) whether a criminal defendant is entitled to a jury trial to determine the amount of restitution under either the Sixth or Seventh Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Balbuena v. Cates
Issue: Whether a district court filing that seeks to amend a habeas petition pending on appeal constitutes a “second or successive” petition under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

Recommended Citation: Andrew Hamm, A habeas circuit split and Ohio’s public-sector unions, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 12, 2021, 6:25 PM),