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October Term 2009

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was first argued during OT 2008, and is therefore a part of the October Term 2008 Case Index.

View this list sorted by case name.

October Sitting

Maryland v. Shatzer, No. 08-680 [Arg: 10.05.2009 Trans.; Decided 02.24.2010]
Holding: When the police arrest a suspect, they must tell him his Miranda rights, which include the right to a lawyer and the right to remain silent. Once the suspect requests a lawyer, the police may not question him again until he is given one, even if he later waives that right. In this case, the Court ruled that, if the suspect has been released from custody for at least fourteen days since he last requested a lawyer, the police may resume questioning him if he waives his right to a lawyer at that time. In the prison context, the police may resume questioning an inmate after he has been released into the general prison population for fourteen days.
Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, No. 08-678 [Arg: 10.05.2009 Trans.; Decided 12.08.2009]
Holding: An order requiring the disclosure of information protected (arguably) by the attorney client privilege is not immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine.
Johnson v. U.S., No. 08-6925 [Arg: 10.06.2009 Trans.; Decided 03.02.2010]
Holding: Federal gun laws require an enhanced sentence for defendant who have previously been convicted of a violent felony. The Court held that the defendant's prior conviction for battery in Florida did not count as a violent felony because under Florida law, although battery involves physical contact, the prosecution is not required to prove any use of physical force.
U.S. v. Stevens, No. 08-769 [Arg: 10.06.2009 Trans.; Decided 04.20.2010]
Holding: A federal statute that criminalizes depictions of animal cruelty in videotapes and other commercial media is unconstitutional.
Bloate v. U.S., No. 08-728 [Arg: 10.06.2009 Trans.; Decided 03.08.2010]
Holding: The Speedy Trial Act requires the government to bring a criminal defendant to trial within seventy days, with certain time excluded. The Court held that time spent preparing pretrial motions is not automatically excluded, but will be if the trial court properly granted a continuance of the trial in order to permit such motions.
Holding: Federal law provides for the binding arbitration of labor disputes involving railroads. The Court had agreed to decide whether (i) a court may overturn an arbitration award on the ground that it was unconstitutional, and (ii) the arbitration ruling in this case was in fact unconstitutionally retroactive. But it did not rule on those issues because it concluded that the arbitration violated the relevant federal statute.
Salazar v. Buono, No. 08-472 [Arg: 10.07.2009 Trans.; Decided 04.28.2010]
Holding: In a highly fractured decision, the Court sent back for reconsideration a case in which Congress enacted legislation to transfer federal property containing a cross to a veterans organization in response to a prior court ruling that leaving the cross on federal property violated the Establishment Clause.
Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick, No. 08-103 [Arg: 10.07.2009 Trans.; Decided 03.02.2010]
Holding: A copyright holder must register her work with the Copyright Office before suing for copyright infringement. However, the failure of some copyright holders to register does not stop a federal court from deciding a class-action lawsuit for copyright infringement so long as some holders involved in the lawsuit did register.
Holding: The Catawba Project and Duke Energy (but not the City of Charlotte) can intervene in this original case in which South Carolina claims North Carolina diverted more than its fair share of water from the Catawba River.
Smith v. Spisak, No. 08-724 [Arg: 10.13.2009 Trans.; Decided 01.12.2010]
Holding: A defendant's 1983 conviction for the murder of three people was not illegal or unconstitutional. The Court rejected the defendant's assertion that the instructions given to the jury were unconstitutional, because they did not require the jury to unanimously find the existence of any mitigating factor, which a prior case, Mills v. Maryland, forbid. The Court also held that the defendant's lawyer was not so ineffective as to call the legitimacy of the verdict into question.
Padilla v. Kentucky, No. 08-651 [Arg: 10.13.2009 Trans.; Decided 03.31.2010]
Holding: The lawyer for an alien charged with crime has a constitutional obligation to tell the client that a guilty plea carries a risk that he will be deported. (The Court, however, did not decide whether the individual in this specific case has been prejudiced by the lawyer's failure to give that advice.)
Perdue v. Kenny A., No. 08-970 [Arg: 10.14.2009 Trans.; Decided 04.21.2010]
Holding: A federal court can award larger-than-usual attorney's fees to a civil rights lawyer who gives an especially strong performance in a particular case, but only in extraordinary circumstances.
Alvarez v. Smith, No. 08-351 [Arg: 10.14.2009 Trans.; Decided 12.08.2009]
Holding: The Court agreed to decide how long the police could hold onto seized property without giving the property owner a hearing. When the police returned all the owners' seized property, the Court decided that the case was moot.

November Sitting

Holding: Federal Rule 23 controls when a class action lawsuit may be filed in federal court, so states do not have the authority to limit the right to sue.
Beard v. Kindler, No. 08-992 [Arg: 11.02.2009 Trans.; Decided 12.08.2009]
Holding: A defendant convicted in state court cannot challenge his conviction in a federal habeas corpus petition if there is an independent and adequate basis in state law for rejecting his claims for example, if the defendant missed a deadline created by state law. The Supreme Court ruled that state law is not inadequatemerely because state court judges have discretion whether to apply or ignore it.
Jones v. Harris Associates, No. 08-586 [Arg: 11.02.2009 Trans.; Decided 03.30.2010]
Holding: Investment advisors cannot charge mutual fund shareholders fees that are so disproportionately large that they are clearly out of proportion to the services rendered, even when the mutual fund shareholders are not misled about these fees.
Hemi Group v. New York, No. 08-969 [Arg: 11.03.2009 Trans.; Decided 01.25.2010]
Holding: New York City cannot use the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act to collect damages against out-of-state internet vendors who fail to pay city cigarette taxes.
NRG v. Maine Public Utilities, No. 08-674 [Arg: 11.03.2009 Trans.; Decided 01.13.2010]
Holding: The Supreme Court has previously held that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is required to presume that electricity prices set out in a freely negotiated wholesale-energy contract are just and reasonable the standard for lawful prices under Federal Power Act unless FERC concludes that the prices seriously harm the public interest. The Court held that this rule applies whether the challenge is brought by a party to the contract, or by a third-party (in this case, customers and state consumer protection agencies).
Schwab v. Reilly, No. 08-538 [Arg: 11.03.2009 Trans.; Decided 06.17.2010]
Holding: Someone who files for bankruptcy is allowed to retain the value of certain property that would otherwise be sold to pay her debts, up to a certain dollar limit. If the debtor initially declares that the property is worth less than that limit, but it turns out that the property is worth more than the limit, the trustee administering the bankruptcy process can keep the money above the limit for the creditors, even if the trustee did not object initially when the debtor first declared the property's value.
Wood v. Allen, No. 08-9156 [Arg: 11.04.2009 Trans.; Decided 01.20.2010]
Holding: The Court upheld a death sentence, rejecting the defendant's claim that his defense attorney had failed to properly investigate or introduce evidence that the defendant's IQ being well below average.
Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, No. 08-1065 [Arg: 11.04.2009 Trans.; Decided 01.04.2010]
Issue(s): Whether a prosecutor may be subjected to a civil trial and potential damages for a wrongful conviction and incarceration where the prosecutor allegedly violated a criminal defendant's substantive due process rights by procuring false testimony during the criminal investigation, and then introduced that same testimony against the criminal defendant at trial.
Sullivan v. Florida, No. 08-7621 [Arg: 11.09.2009 Trans.; Decided 05.17.2010]
Holding: The Court held that the case should not have been heard by them in the first place, thereby declining to decide whether sentencing a thirteen-year-old to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is cruel and unusual punishment.
Graham v. Florida, No. 08-7412 [Arg: 11.09.2009 Trans.; Decided 05.17.2010]
Holding: Sentencing a juvenile to life in prison without parole for crimes other than murder violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Bilski v. Kappos, No. 08-964 [Arg: 11.09.2009 Trans.; Decided 06.28.2010]
Holding: The Court held that the invention, in this case, could not be patented. More broadly, however, the Court held that business methods can be patented, even if does not pass the "machine or transformation" test.
Hertz Corp. v. Friend, No. 08-1107 [Arg: 11.10.2009 Trans.; Decided 02.23.2010]
Holding: Federal courts have diversity jurisdiction to hear suits alleging solely violation of state law if the parties to the lawsuit are citizens of different states. A corporation is considered to be a citizen of the state where it has its principal place of business. In this case, the Court defined that term to mean the state in which the company's high level officers control and coordinate its activities, which will usually be its corporate headquarters.
Kucana v. Holder, No. 08-911 [Arg: 11.10.2009 Trans.; Decided 01.20.2010]
Holding: A federal immigration statute bars judicial review of certain immigration decisions left to the discretion of the Attorney General by statute. In this case, the Court held that whether to reopen administrative proceedings in an immigration case is not one of those discretionary decisions shielded from judicial review.

December Sitting

Merck & Co. v. Reynolds, No. 08-905 [Arg: 11.30.2009 Trans.; Decided 04.27.2010]
Holding: The time for a plaintiff to file a federal securities fraud lawsuit begins to run as soon as a plaintiff discovers (or should have discovered) the facts showing a violation of the Securities Exchange Act. A false statement affecting stock prices is not enough to violate the securities law; the defendant must know that the statement was false. As a result, the time to sue does not start to run simply because the plaintiff knows that the statement is false; the time runs only once the plaintiff discovers that the defendant knew that the statement was false.
Holding: The False Claims Act allows private citizens who discover that someone is defrauding the federal government to file suit against the perpetrator (on behalf of the government) and receive a portion of the recovery. In this case, the Court ruled that the law does not apply if the fraud has already been discovered and made public by a government agency report or audit.
Holding: A bankruptcy court must determine that a debtor suffers from undue hardship before it cancels student loan debt in bankruptcy. However, even if the bankruptcy court doesn't make such a determination, its original order to cancel the debt may be enforced if the creditor did not object by a given deadline.
Holding: Lawyers cannot advise their clients to incur more debt in bad faith, but they can do so in good faith i.e., if there is a valid reason to do so other than to have the debt discharged by a bankruptcy court.
Stop the Beach v. Florida, No. 08-1151 [Arg: 12.02.2009 Trans.; Decided 06.17.2010]
Holding: Florida's beach restoration program deposits sand on eroded beaches, effectively creating new land at the water's edge. A state court held that the state owns the newly created strip of land at the water's edge, not the individuals who own the land abutting the new newly created beach area. The Supreme Court held that this ruling did not effectively take the landowners property without just compensation because it was consistent with pre-existing state property law.
Florida v. Powell, No. 08-1175 [Arg: 12.07.2009 Trans.; Decided 02.23.2010]
Holding: Criminal suspects have a right to have their lawyer present during police questioning, and the police are required to inform suspects of that right as part of their Miranda warning. In this case, police officers told a suspect that he had the right to talk to a lawyer before answering [any] questions and [y]ou have the right to use any of these rights at any time you want during this interview. The Court held that even though this warning did not specifically mention the right to have a lawyer present during questioning (as opposed to the right to talk to the lawyer before questioning), the warning nonetheless was constitutional because it conveyed to the suspect that he had the right to have an attorney present.
Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, No. 08-861 [Arg: 12.07.2009 Trans.; Decided 06.28.2010]
Holding: The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has expansive powers to regulate accounting firms that audit public companies. Its members are appointed by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and cannot be removed except for “good cause.” The members of the SEC, in turn, may be removed by the President only for “good cause.” The Court ruled that the two-tiered “good cause” protection violates separation of powers principles by depriving the President of sufficient authority to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed by executive branch officials.
Weyhrauch v. U.S., No. 08-1196 [Arg: 12.08.2009 Trans.; Decided 06.24.2010]
Holding: The lower court's decision was overturned in light of an earlier decision by the Supreme Court, in Skilling v. United States.
Black v. U.S., No. 08-876 [Arg: 12.08.2009 Trans.; Decided 06.24.2010]
Holding: Two business executives were convicted of honest services fraud after the judge at their trial instructed the jury that a person commits such fraud if he misuses his position for private gain and knowingly and intentionally breaches his duty of loyalty. Given the Court's ruling in Skilling restricting the scope of the honest services fraud statute, it ruled in this case that those jury instructions were erroneous.
Stolt-Nielsen v. AnimalFeeds, No. 08-1198 [Arg: 12.09.2009 Trans.; Decided 04.27.2010]
Holding: Parties may sometimes settle disputes through arbitration, rather than litigation. When the dispute involves numerous similarly-situated individuals, a few individuals may conduct the arbitration on behalf of the larger groups (similar to a class action lawsuit). Here, the Court ruled that that class action arbitration is permitted only if all the parties specifically agree to it.

January Sitting

Alabama v. North Carolina, No. 132 Original [Arg: 01.11.2009 Trans.; Decided 06.01.2010]
Holding: North Carolina acts as a host state for a radioactive waste disposal facility utilized and partially funded by a commission of southern states. When North Carolina was unable to finance its share of the facility, the commission withdrew funding, and the facility shut down. The Court held that the terms of the agreement among the states did not allow the commission to impose financial sanctions against North Carolina, and that North Carolina did not breach its contractual obligation or its implied duty in any event. It also held that North Carolina was not protected from suit by the commission by the doctrine of sovereign immunity because the commission was itself made up of sovereign states.
Briscoe v. Virginia, No. 07-11191 [Arg: 01.11.2010 Trans.; Decided 01.25.2010]
Holding: The Court sent the case back to a lower court in light of a recently decided case, which held that it is unconstitutional for a prosecutor to submit a chemical drug test report without the testimony of the scientist who conducted the test.
U.S. v. Comstock, No. 08-1224 [Arg: 01.12.2010 Trans.; Decided 05.17.2010]
Holding: The Court upheld, under the Commerce Clause, the law passed by Congress allowing the civil commitment of mentally ill sex offenders after the completion of their criminal sentences.
Abbott v. Abbott, No. 08-645 [Arg: 01.12.2010 Trans.; Decided 05.17.2010]
Holding: If a parent has the right to consent before the other parent can remove a child from the country where the child is living, then the parent also has a right of custody under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, and the child must be returned.
Jerman v. Carlisle, No. 08-1200 [Arg: 01.13.2010 Trans.; Decided 04.21.2010]
Holding: The Fair Debt Collection Practices act regulates the conduct of debt collectors. The statute provides a bona fide error defense for instances in which a debt collector violates the statute through a good faith mistake. The Court held, however, that ignorance of the law does not count as a good faith mistake under that defense.
American Needle v. NFL, No. 08-661 [Arg: 01.13.2010 Trans.; Decided 05.24.2010]
Holding: The NFL's team joint licensing of the use of trademarks on clothing and other consumer goods may be challenged under the Sherman Antitrust Act's section 1.
Granite Rock v. Teamsters, No. 08-1214 [Arg: 01.19.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.24.2010]
Holding: The Court held that the federal court, and not an arbitrator, may decide when parties enter into a collective bargaining agreement.
Holding: Under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act, a local operator of a gas station franchise cannot bring a claim for constructive termination of its franchise unless the parent company effectively forced the franchise out of business. Nor can the local gas station sue the company for constructively failing to renew the franchise agreement if the gas station owner actually signed a new agreement with the company.
Berghuis v. Smith, No. 08-1402 [Arg: 01.20.2010 Trans.; Decided 03.30.2010]
Holding: Defendants have the right to a trial by a jury selected from a fair cross-section of the community. In this case, in which an African-American man convicted by an all-white jury selected from a pool that contained a very small percentage of African Americans, the Court held that the underrepresentation of African-Americans in the jury pool was not serious enough to warrant overturning the conviction, and that there was not enough evidence of systematic exclusion of black jurors from the pool.
Conkright v. Frommert, No. 08-810 [Arg: 01.20.2010 Trans.; Decided 04.21.2010]
Holding: An employee health plan often has an administrator who must interpret its terms, and in some circumstances courts will defer to the administrator's reading. The Court held here that a plan administrator's interpretation is entitled to deference, even when the administrator had previously adopted a different interpretation that a court found erroneous.

February Sitting

Astrue v. Ratliff, No. 08-1322 [Arg: 02.22.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.14.2010]
Holding: When an individual sues the federal government and recovers attorney’s fees, the government can recoup some of those fees when the plaintiff owes the government money.
Lewis v. Chicago, No. 08-974 [Arg: 02.22.2010 Trans.; Decided 05.24.2010]
Holding: The Court held that that employers can be sued any time they use results from tests that rule out disproportionate numbers of women and minorities.
U.S. v. O'Brien, No. 08-1569 [Arg: 02.23.2010 Trans.; Decided 05.24.2010]
Holding: The fact that a firearm was a machine gun is a fact that must be proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt at the time of trial, rather than a fact to be proved to the judge at the time of sentencing.
Holder v. HLP, No. 08-1498 [Arg: 02.23.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.21.2010]
Holding: The federal government may prohibit providing non-violent material support for terrorist organizations including legal services and advice without violating the free speech clause of the First Amendment.
U.S. v. Marcus, No. 08-1341 [Arg: 02.24.2010 Trans.; Decided 05.24.2010]
Issue(s): Whether the Second Circuit departed from the Court's interpretation of Rule 52(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure by adopting as the appropriate standard for plain-error review of an alleged ex post facto violation whether there is any possibility that the defendant could have been convicted based exclusively on conduct that took place before the enactment of the statutes in question.
Carr v. U.S., No. 08-1301 [Arg: 02.24.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.01.2010]
Holding: The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2007 makes it a crime for convicted sex offenders to fail to register with local authorities when they move to a new state. The Court rules that the Act does not apply to sex offenders moved before the Act went into effect.
Holland v. Florida, No. 09-5327 [Arg: 03.01.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.14.2010]
Holding: A state prisoner who has exhausted her state court appeals has one year within which to petition a federal court for a writ of habeas corpus. The Court held that under certain extraordinary circumstances, a court may relax that deadline. Those circumstances may arise from an attorney's misconduct, even if the attorney did not act dishonestly or in bad faith.
Berghuis v. Thompkins, No. 08-1470 [Arg: 03.01.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.01.2010]
Holding: The police are required to stop questioning a suspect once he invokes his Miranda right to remain silent. In this case, the Court held that a suspect did not invoke his right to remain silent by simply not answering questions. Instead, a suspect must unambiguously invoke his right to remain silent before the police are required to end their questioning.
Skilling v. U.S., No. 08-1394 [Arg: 03.01.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.24.2010]
Holding: (1) Former Enron C.E.O. Jeffrey Skilling had a fair trial before an impartial jury despite publicity about his case before trial and community prejudice; and (2) the federal law that makes it a crime to deprive people of “honest services” covers only bribery and kickback schemes.
Hui v. Castaneda, No. 08-1529 [Arg: 03.02.2010 Trans.; Decided 05.03.2010]
Holding: Public health service officers and employees cannot be sued through so-called Bivens actions for violating citizens constitutional rights if the violation was committed in the course of their government duties. The plaintiff can only sue the federal government, not the employees.
McDonald v. Chicago, No. 08-1521 [Arg: 03.02.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.28.2010]
Holding: The Second Amendment right of individuals to keep and bear arms in self defense applies against state and local governments as well as the federal government.
Samantar v. Yousuf, No. 08-1555 [Arg: 03.03.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.01.2010]
Holding: The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) generally protects foreign governments from being sued in American courts, even for violations of human rights. The Court ruled that FSIA does not protect a former official of foreign government from suit (in this case, a former Somalian defense minister sued for alleged atrocities committed in Somalia).

March Sitting

Levin v. Commerce Energy, No. 09-223 [Arg: 03.22.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.01.2010]
Holding: Under the comity doctrine, which compels federal courts to defer to state courts under certain circumstances, lawsuits alleging discriminatory state taxation must initially be brought in state courts.
Hamilton v. Lanning, No. 08-998 [Arg: 03.22.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.07.2010]
Holding: The Court held that a debtor œprojected income refers to future calculations based on actual income rather than those based on past income over a period of years.
New Process Steel v. NLRB, No. 08-1457 [Arg: 03.23.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.17.2010]
Holding: Because of gridlock over presidential confirmations, the National Labor Relations Board only operated with two of its five seats filled. The Court held that it was illegal for NLRB to rule on cases with only two sitting members.
Magwood v. Patterson, No. 09-158 [Arg: 03.24.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.24.2010]
Holding: A state prisoner can often petition a federal court for a writ of habeas corpus, challenging her state court conviction or sentence. But she generally may not file a second or successive application for habeas relief. In Magwood, the defendant prevailed on habeas and had his case sent back to the state courts for a new sentencing proceeding, After the state court imposed the same sentence again, he again sought federal habeas relief. This time, he raised a new argument that could have been in his initial application but was not. The Supreme Court held that when a state prisoner obtains federal habeas relief and is re-sentenced, a habeas application challenging the new judgment is not “second or successive, even if the prisoner could have challenged the original sentence on the same ground.
Kawasaki v. Regal-Beloit Corp., No. 08-1553 [Arg: 03.24.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.17.2010]
Holding: When a cargo shipment starts its journey overseas, the portion of the trip during which the goods are shipped by train is governed by the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, rather than the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act.
Renico v. Lett, No. 09-338 [Arg: 03.29.2010 Trans.; Decided 05.03.2010]
Holding: Under the Double Jeopardy Clause, a criminal defendant can be subjected to a new trial if the jury in his original trial was deadlocked and could not reach a unanimous verdict. In this case, a state court ordered a new trial after finding an initial jury deadlocked, and in the second trial, the defendant was convicted. A federal court overturned the conviction after concluding that the trial court did not try hard enough to get the first jury to reach a unanimous verdict. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the federal court did not give enough deference to the state trial court’s judgment about whether the first jury was truly deadlocked.
Holding: The Court held that U.S. law against securities fraud does not apply to investment deals that occur outside the country, even if they have a domestic impact or effect.
Dillon v. U.S., No. 09-6338 [Arg: 03.30.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.17.2010]
Holding: In certain circumstances, a defendant can ask to be resentenced if the federal Sentencing Guidelines are changed in his favor. The Court held that when this happens, the new Guidelines are binding on the district court at resentencing, even though the court could treat them as merely advisory if it was sentencing the defendant for the first time.
Barber v. Thomas, No. 09-5201 [Arg: 03.30.2010 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.07.2010]
Holding: A federal inmate is entitled to a credit of up to fifty-four days for every year of her term of imprisonment if she exhibits exemplary behavior during that year. The Supreme Court held that term of imprisonment refers to the length of the sentence actually served by the inmate, rather than the length of the sentence as imposed by the sentencing judge.
Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, No. 09-60 [Arg: 03.31.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.14.2010]
Holding: The Court held that a minor drug offense is not automatic grounds for deportation of a legal immigrant.
Holding: The Court held that it should not have heard the case in the first place, thereby declining to decide whether a private party can bring an action for criminal contempt.

April Sitting

CLS v. Martinez, No. 08-1371 [Arg: 04.19.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.28.2010]
Holding: A public college does not violate the First Amendment by refusing to officially recognize a student organization unless it allows all students to join the group, even if that all comers policy requires a religious organization to admit gay students who do not adhere to the group's core beliefs.
City of Ontario v. Quon, No. 08-1332 [Arg: 04.19.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.17.2010]
Holding: The search of a police officer's text messages sent over a government pager to private parties was reasonable, and therefore the officer's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated.
Dolan v. U.S., No. 09-367 [Arg: 04.20.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.14.2010]
Holding: A federal statute provides that a court shall order particular defendants to make restitution to their victims within a ninety-day period after sentencing.
Krupski v. Costa Crociere, No. 09-337 [Arg: 04.21.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.07.2010]
Holding: The Court held that a plaintiff is allowed to amend the name of a defendant when he or she gets it wrong in the original complaint.
Rent-A-Center v. Jackson, No. 09-497 [Arg: 04.26.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.21.2010]
Holding: If after parties agree to arbitrate a dispute rather than take it to court, one side challenges the arbitration provision itself, then a court must decide the challenge. However, if the enforceability of the agreement as a whole is challenged, the challenge must be decided by an arbitrator.
Holding: In certain retirement-benefits cases, a party requesting attorney's fees from the court does not need to be the prevailing party in the case; a court may award fees to her as long as she has achieved some degree of success in the case.
Holding: The Supreme Court held that a lower court judge had incorrectly ruled when he banned the planting of genetically engineered because of claims they might be environmentally unsafe. The case was sent back to the Animal Protection and health Inspection Service for them to determine if they want to pursue a partial deregulation of the alfalfa seeds.
Doe v. Reed, No. 09-559 [Arg: 04.28.2010 Trans.; Decided 06.24.2010]
Holding: Disclosure of the identity of persons who sign petitions for ballot referenda does not normally violate the First Amendment. The Court leaves open, however, the question whether the First Amendment might prohibit disclosure if it can be shown that disclosure could expose those who signed a petition to serious harm.

Cases Not (Yet) Set for Argument

Issue(s): Whether, on federal habeas review, the evidence underlying the defendant's conviction for sexual assault was clearly insufficient under Jackson v. Virginia (1979).
Holding: The issue in this case was whether a federal judge has the authority to order the release onto U.S. soil of foreign citizens detained by the U.S. military after capture abroad, if the judge first rules that the U.S. has no authority to detain them. The case was sent back to a lower court for reconsideration in light of renewed opportunities for the release of the Guantanamo Bay detainees who brought the case.
Holding: Without oral argument, the Court held that errors made by a death row inmate’s defense attorney did not undermine the inmate’s conviction.
Holding: A death row inmate challenged his death sentence in district court, giving five arguments for the reconsideration of the sentence. The district court accepted one and did not resolve the others. The Supreme Court held that an appeals court subsequently erred when it reinstated the death sentence upon reversing the district court on the single ground considered, without evaluating any of the other grounds raised by the defendant.
Issue(s): Whether the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act, 5 U.S.C. § 8902(m)(1), preempts a state court lawsuit filed against a government contractor administering such benefits.
Holding: The Court decided without oral argument that an officer’s decision to enter a home without a warrant, after observing blood on the hood of a pickup truck outside and newly broken windows inside the house, did not violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
Holding: The Court held, without oral argument, that the performance of a death row inmate’s defense attorneys fulfilled the Constitutional requirement for effective assistance of counsel.
Holding: Without hearing oral argument, the Court summarily reversed a lower court decision that appeared to hold that a trial judge must find that a prosecutor dismissed a jury for a discriminatory (and therefore unconstitutional) reason, when the only justification the prosecutor can give for the dismissal was based on the demeanor of the juror, but the trial judge resolving the challenge to the dismissal did not personally observe the juror.
Holding: Without oral argument, the Court returned this case to a lower court to consider whether to hold a hearing to investigate whether the trial judge and jury in the defendant’s trial engaged in significant misconduct that could undermine the validity of his death sentence.
Issue(s): Without oral argument, the Court decided that a state court failed to adequately assess the a capital defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel arising from his lawyer’s failure to investigate the defendant’s history of mental impairments.