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October Term 2012

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October Sitting

Holding: Lozman's floating home is not a "vessel" for purposes of 1 U.S.C. § 3, and therefore federal maritime jurisdiction is not triggered, because -- except for the fact that it floats -- nothing about it suggests that it was intended to transport people or things over water.
Holding: The presumption against the extraterritorial application of U.S. law applies to claims under the Alien Tort Statute, and nothing in the text, history, or purposes of the statute rebuts that presumption.
Kloeckner v. Solis, No. 11-184 [Arg: 10.2.12 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.10.2012]
Holding: A federal employee who claims that an agency action appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board violates an antidiscrimination statute listed in 5 U.S.C. § 7702(a)(1) should seek judicial review in district court, rather than the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, regardless whether the MSPB decided her case on procedural grounds or on the merits.
U.S. v. Bormes, No. 11-192 [Arg: 10.2.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 11.13.2012]
Holding: The Little Tucker Act does not waive the government’s sovereign immunity with respect to Fair Credit Reporting Act damages actions.
Holding: Recurrent flooding that is induced by the government and temporary in duration is not automatically exempt from liability under the Takings Clause. (Kagan, J., recused.)
Johnson v. Williams, No. 11-465 [Arg: 10.3.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.20.2013]
Holding: For purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), when a state court rules against a defendant in an opinion that rejects some of the defendant’s claims but does not expressly address a federal claim, a federal habeas court must presume, subject to rebuttal, that the federal claim was adjudicated on the merits.
Tibbals v. Carter, No. 11-218 [Arg: 10.9.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.8.2013]
Holding: 18 U.S.C. § 3599 does not provide a state prisoner with the right to suspend his federal habeas proceedings when he is adjudged incompetent.
Ryan v. Gonzales, No. 10-930 [Arg: 10.9.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.8.2013]
Holding: 18 U.S.C. § 3599 does not provide a state prisoner with the right to suspend his federal habeas proceedings when he is adjudged incompetent.
Moncrieffe v. Holder, No. 11-702 [Arg: 10.10.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.23.2013]
Holding: If a noncitizen’s conviction for a marijuana distribution offense fails to establish that the offense involved either remuneration or more than a small amount of marijuana, it is not an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Holding: Because the lower court did not hold the university to the demanding burden of strict scrutiny articulated in Grutter v. Bollinger, and Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, its decision affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment was incorrect.

November Sitting

Clapper v. Amnesty Int'l USA, No. 11-1025 [Arg: 10.29.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.26.2013]
Holding: Respondents lack Article III standing to challenge FISA Amendments Act of 2008, 50 U. S. C. § 1881a.
Holding: The “first sale” doctrine, which allows the owner of a copyrighted work to sell or otherwise dispose of that copy as he wishes, applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.
Florida v. Harris, No. 11-817 [Arg: 10.31.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.19.2013]
Holding: When, subject to challenge by the defendant, the police provide evidence of a drug-sniffing dog’s satisfactory performance in a certification or training program, the dog’s alert can provide probable cause to search a vehicle.
Florida v. Jardines, No. 11-564 [Arg: 10.31.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.26.2013]
Holding: A dog sniff at the front door of a house where the police suspected drugs were being grown constitutes a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment.
Chaidez v. U.S., No. 11-820 [Arg: 11.1.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.20.2013]
Holding: The Court’s decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, holding that the Sixth Amendment requires defense attorneys to inform criminal defendants of the deportation risks of guilty pleas, does not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review.
Bailey v. U.S., No. 11-770 [Arg: 11.1.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.19.2013]
Holding: The rule in Michigan v. Summers that officers executing a search warrant are permitted “to detain the occupants of the premises while a proper search is conducted” is limited to the immediate vicinity of the premises to be searched and does not apply when a recent occupant of the premises was detained at a point beyond any reasonable understanding of the immediate vicinity of the premises in question.
Holding: Proof of materiality is not a prerequisite to certification of a securities-fraud class action seeking money damages for alleged violations of Securities and Exchange Commission Rule #10(b) and Rule 1.
Comcast v. Behrend, No. 11-864 [Arg: 11.5.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.27.13]
Holding: The class action brought by respondents, subscribers to the cable television services provided by petitioner, was improperly certified under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3), which requires a court to find that the “questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members,” because the Third Circuit erred in refusing to decide whether the class’s proposed damages model could show damages on a classwide basis. Under proper standards, the model was inadequate, and the class should not have been certified.
Smith v. U.S., No. 11-8976 [Arg: 11.6.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.9.2013]
Holding: A defendant bears the burden of proving a defense of withdrawal from conspiracy.
Evans v. Michigan, No. 11-1327 [Arg: 11.6.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.20.2013]
Holding: The Double Jeopardy Clause bars retrial following a court-directed acquittal, even if the acquittal was erroneous.
Holding: Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1), a prevailing defendant in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act suit may be awarded costs when the lawsuit was not brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment.
Already, LLC v. Nike, No. 11-982 [Arg: 11.7.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 1.9.2012]
Holding: Nike's unconditional and irrevocable covenant not to enforce a trademark against a competitor’s existing products and any future “colorable imitations” moots the competitor’s action to have the trademark declared invalid.

December Sitting

Holding: Because Georgia has not clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed a policy allowing hospital authorities to make acquisitions that substantially reduce competition, state-action immunity does not apply.
Holding: An employee is a “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act only if he is empowered by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim.
U.S. Airways v. McCutchen, No. 11-1285 [Arg: 11.27.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.16.2013]
Holding: In an action brought under Section 502(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which authorizes a civil action “to obtain . . . appropriate equitable relief . . . to enforce . . . the terms of the” ERISA plan, based on an equitable lien by agreement, the terms of the ERISA plan govern. However, when there are gaps in the plan, equitable doctrines may be used to properly construe it.
Henderson v. U.S., No. 11-9307 [Arg: 11.28.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.20.2013]
Holding: Regardless whether a legal question was settled or unsettled at the time of trial, an error is “plain” within the meaning of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 52(b) so long as the error was plain at the time of appellate review.
Holding: Because respondent had no personal interest in representing putative, unnamed claimants, nor any other continuing interest that would preserve her suit from mootness, her suit was appropriately dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
Holding: A provision of the Clean Water Act governing challenges to Environmental Protection Agency actions, 33 U.S.C. § 1369(b), is not a jurisdictional bar to this suit, which alleges that the defendants had not obtained National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits before discharging stormwater runoff into two Oregon rivers. That provision is the exclusive vehicle for suits seeking to invalidate certain agency decisions, such as the establishment of effluent standards and the issuance of permits. It does not bar a district court from entertaining a citizen suit, like this one, under Section 1365 when the suit is against an alleged violator and seeks to enforce an obligation imposed by the Act or its regulations. Moreover, the EPA’s recent amendment to the Industrial Stormwater Rule does not make the cases moot.
Holding: A provision of the Clean Water Act governing challenges to Environmental Protection Agency actions, 33 U.S.C. § 1369(b), is not a jurisdictional bar to this suit, which alleges that the defendants had not obtained National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits before discharging stormwater runoff into two Oregon rivers. That provision is the exclusive vehicle for suits seeking to invalidate certain agency decisions, such as the establishment of effluent standards and the issuance of permits. It does not bar a district court from entertaining a citizen suit, like this one, under Section 1365 when the suit is against an alleged violator and seeks to enforce an obligation imposed by the Act or its regulations. Moreover, the EPA’s recent amendment to the Industrial Stormwater Rule does not make the cases moot.
Holding: The 180-day statutory time limit for a hospital to appeal a final Medicare reimbursement is not “jurisdictional,” but it is also not subject to equitable tolling.
Holding: The flow of water from an improved portion of a navigable waterway into an unimproved portion of the same waterway does not qualify as a “discharge of a pollutant” under the Clean Water Act.
Chafin v. Chafin, No. 11-1347 [Arg: 12.5.2012 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.19.2013]
Holding: The return of a child to a foreign country pursuant to an order under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction does not render an appeal of that order moot.

January Sitting

Descamps v. U.S., No. 11-9540 [Arg: 1.7.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.20.2013]
Holding: Sentencing courts may not apply the modified categorical approach to a federal defendant when the crime of which the defendant was previously convicted has a single, indivisible set of elements.
Holding: The stipulation in this case that the class would seek less than five million dollars in damages, which was intended to establish the amount of damages in controversy, does not defeat federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005.
Wos v. E.M.A., No. 12-98 [Arg: 1.8.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.20.2013]
Holding: The anti-lien provision of the federal Medicaid statute pre-empts North Carolina’s irrebuttable statutory presumption that one-third of any tort recovery by a Medicaid beneficiary is attributable to medical expenses.
Holding: The five-year statute of limitations for the SEC to bring a civil suit seeking penalties for securities fraud against investment advisers begins to tick when the fraud occurs, not when it is discovered.
Maracich v. Spears, No. 12-25 [Arg: 1.9.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.17.2013]
Holding: An attorney’s solicitation of clients is not a permissible purpose covered by the “litigation exception” to the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act.
Missouri v. McNeely, No. 11-1425 [Arg: 1.9.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.17.2013]
Holding: In drunk-driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without a warrant.
Boyer v. Louisiana, No. 11-9953 [Arg: 1.14.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.29.2013]
Holding: Dismissed as improvidently granted.
Alleyne v. U.S., No. 11-9335 [Arg: 1.14.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.17.2013]
Holding: Because mandatory minimum sentences increase the penalty for a crime, any fact that increases the mandatory minimum is an “element” of the crime that must be submitted to the jury.
Holding: The government’s demand for property from a land-use permit applicant must satisfy the Nollan /Dolan requirements even when it denies the permit.
Levin v. U.S., No. 11-1351 [Arg: 1.15.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.4.2013]
Holding: The Gonzalez Act, 10 U.S.C. § 1089(e), which provides that the intentional tort exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act does not apply to “any cause of action arising out of a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the performance of medical . . . functions,” permits a suit against the United States alleging medical battery by a Navy doctor acting within the scope of his employment.
Holding: Courts must apply the Chevron framework to an agency’s interpretation of a statutory ambiguity that concerns the scope of the agency’s statutory authority ( i.e., its jurisdiction).
City of Arlington v. FCC, No. 11-1545 [Arg: 1.16.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.20.2013]
Holding: Courts must apply the Chevron framework to an agency’s interpretation of a statutory ambiguity that concerns the scope of the agency’s statutory authority ( i.e., its jurisdiction).
Gunn v. Minton, No. 11-1118 [Arg: 1.16.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 2.20.2013]
Holding: 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a), which provides for exclusive federal jurisdiction over an case “arising under any Act of Congress relating to patents,” does not deprive the state courts of subject matter jurisdiction over a state law claim alleging legal malpractice in a patent case.

February Sitting

Millbrook v. U.S., No. 11-10362 [Arg: 2.19.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.27.2013]
Holding: The law enforcement proviso to the Federal Tort Claims Act applies to all the activities of law enforcement officers within the scope of their employment, not just to their investigative or law enforcement activities.
Bowman v. Monsanto Co., No. 11-796 [Arg: 2.19.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.13.2013]
Holding: Patent exhaustion does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission.
Holding: The one-time “windfall tax” imposed in 1997 by the United Kingdom on a group of companies privatized between 1984 and 1996 is creditable under Section 901 of the Internal Revenue Code, which (as relevant here) provides that any “income, war profits, and excess profits taxes” paid overseas are creditable against U.S. income taxes.
McBurney v. Young, No. 12-17 [Arg: 2.20.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 4.29.2013]
Holding: Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, which grants Virginia citizens access to all public records, but grants no such right to non-Virginians, does not violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause, which protects only those privileges and immunities that are “fundamental.” The Act also does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause: it neither prohibits access to an interstate market nor imposes burdensome regulation on that market; and in any event, a state does not violate the Clause when, having created a market through a state program, it “limits benefits generated by [that] state program to those who fund the state treasury and whom the State was created to serve.”
McQuiggin v. Perkins, No. 12-126 [Arg: 2.25.2013 Trans.; Decided 5.28.2013]
Holding: Actual innocence, if proved, serves as a gateway through which a petitioner may pass whether the impediment to consideration of the merits of a constitutional claim is a procedural bar, as it was in Schlup v. Delo and House v. Bell, or expiration of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act statute of limitations, as in this case.
Trevino v. Thaler, No. 11-10189 [Arg: 2.25.2013 Trans.; Decided 5.28.2013]
Holding: When, as here, a state’s procedural framework, by reason of its design and operation, makes it highly unlikely in a typical case that a defendant will have a meaningful opportunity to raise on direct appeal a claim that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance, the good cause exception recognized in Martinez v. Ryan applies.
Maryland v. King, No. 12-207 [Arg: 2.26.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.3.2013]
Holding: When officers make an arrest supported by probable cause to hold a suspect for a serious offense and bring him to the station to be detained in custody, taking and analyzing a cheek swab of the arrestee’s DNA is, like fingerprinting and photographing, a legitimate police booking procedure that is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
Peugh v. U.S., No. 12-62 [Arg: 2.26.2013 Trans.; Decided 6.10.2013]
Holding: The Constitution’s Ex Post Facto Clause prohibits federal courts from sentencing a defendant based on guidelines that were promulgated after he committed his crimes, when the new version of guidelines provides a higher sentencing range than the version in place at the time of the offense.
Holding: The Federal Arbitration Act does not permit courts to invalidate a contractual waiver of class arbitration on the ground that the plaintiff’s cost of individually arbitrating a federal statutory claim exceeds the potential recovery.
Shelby County v. Holder, No. 12-96 [Arg: 2.27.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.25.2013]
Holding: Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional; its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance.

March Sitting

Holding: As applied to applicants who use a uniform federal form that merely requires them to aver, under penalty of perjury, that they are U.S. citizens, Arizona’s requirement that would-be voters provide actual proof of U.S. citizenship is pre-empted by the National Voter Registration Act's mandate that states “accept and use” the federal form.
Holding: The term “defalcation” in the Bankruptcy Code includes a culpable state of mind requirement involving knowledge of, or gross recklessness in respect to, the improper nature of the fiduciary behavior.
Sebelius v. Cloer, No. 12-236 [Arg: 3.19.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.20.2013]
Holding: An untimely National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act petition may qualify for an award of attorney’s fees if it is filed in good faith and there is a reasonable basis for its claim.
Holding: State-law design-defect claims that turn on the adequacy of a drug’s warnings are pre-empted by federal law under PLIVA v. Mensing.
Holding: A farmer who is deemed to have violated an agricultural marketing order, is fined, has a fine assessed against him, and seeks to argue that the fine is an unconstitutional “taking” can bring his “takings” claim in a regular federal district court without first paying the fine; he is not required to bring that claim in the Court of Federal Claims.
Holding: Section 14501(c)(1) of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 does not preempt state-law claims stemming from the storage and disposal of a towed vehicle.
FTC v. Actavis, No. 12-416 [Arg: 3.25.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.17.2013]
Holding: Governments and private parties may bring lawsuits against brand-name drug manufacturers to challenge the drug companies’ payments to would-be competitors who make generic substitutes to keep the generic substitutes out of the market, but those payments are not presumptively illegal.
Holding: When an arbitrator determines that the parties to an arbitration intended to authorize class-wide arbitration, that determination survives judicial review under § 10(a)(4) of the Federal Arbitration Act as long as the arbitrator was arguably construing the contract.
Hollingsworth v. Perry, No. 12-144 [Arg: 3.26.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.26.2013]
Holding: The proponents of California’s ban on same-sex marriage did not have standing to appeal the district court’s order invalidating the ban.
U.S. v. Windsor, No. 12-307 [Arg: 3.27.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.26.2013]
Holding: Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.

April Sitting

Holding: A naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated, but synthetic complementary DNA ("cDNA") is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring.
U.S. v. Davila, No. 12-167 [Arg: 4.15.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.13.2013]
Holding: When a federal judge participates in plea negotiations, contrary to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c),the defendant's guilty plea does not need to be vacated if there is no evidence in the record of prejudice to the defendant’s decision to plead guilty.
Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, No. 12-399 [Arg: 4.16.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.25.2013]
Holding: Assuming for the sake of argument that the biological father in this case is a "parent" for purposes of the Indian Child Welfare Act, the act still does not bar termination of the biological father's paternal rights.
Holding: The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) expressly preempts provisions in concession agreements between the port and short-haul trucking companies that require trucks moving cargo in and out of the port to affix placards bearing a phone number to receive complaints to each truck and to submit a plan for off-street parking for the trucks.
U.S. v. Kebodeaux, No. 12-418 [Arg: 4.17.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.24.2013]
Holding: As applied to respondent Anthony Kebodeaux, the registration requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act fall within the scope of Congress’s authority under the Necessary and Proper Clause.
Salinas v. Texas, No. 12-246 [Arg: 4.17.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.17.2013]
Holding: When petitioner had not yet been placed in custody or received Miranda warnings, and voluntarily responded to some questions by police about a murder, the prosecution’s use of his silence in response to another question as evidence of his guilty at trial did not violate the Fifth Amendment because petitioner failed to expressly invoke his privilege not to incriminate himself in response to the officer’s question.
Holding: The requirement that nongovernmental organizations wishing to receive funding from the federal government for HIV and AIDS programs overseas adopt a policy explicitly opposing prostitution violates the First Amendment.
Hillman v. Maretta, No. 11-1221 [Arg: 4.22.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.3.2013]
Holding: The Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Act (FEGLIA), which establishes a life insurance program for federal employees, allows an employee to designate a beneficiary to receive the proceeds of the policy when the employee dies. That law preempts a Virginia law that allows the family of a deceased employee to sue the designated beneficiary for the proceeds if the beneficiary happens to be the employee’s former spouse.
Sekhar v. U.S., No. 12-357 [Arg: 4.23.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 6.26.2013]
Holding: Attempting to compel a person to recommend that his employer approve an investment does not constitute “the obtaining of property from another” under the Hobbs Act.
Holding: The Red River Compact, which allocates water rights within the Red River basin among the states of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, does not pre-empt the Oklahoma water statutes at issue in this case.
Metrish v. Lancaster, No. 12-547 [Arg: 4.24.2013 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.20.2013]
Holding: Petitioner is not entitled to federal habeas relief.
Holding: Employee retaliation claims filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must be proved according to traditional principles of but-for causation, not the lessened causation test stated in the 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–2(m).

Decided without oral argument

Holding: The Oklahoma Supreme Court was wrong in preventing arbitration of a dispute over the scope of non-competition agreements in employment contracts.
Holding: In a lawsuit alleging that the conduct of government officials violates the Constitution, a plaintiff who obtains a permanent injunction but no money damages is a “prevailing party” because the injunction ordered the officials to change their behavior in a way that directly benefitted the plaintiff. The plaintiff is therefore entitled to receive his attorney’s fees unless special circumstances would render such an award unjust.
Holding: The Ninth Circuit erred in granting habeas relief to respondent Otis Lee Rodgers, who argued that the state courts violated his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel when it failed to appoint an attorney to help him file a motion for a new trial, even when he had waived his right to an attorney on three previous occasions. Even assuming that, after a defendant validly waives his right to trial counsel, a post-trial, preappeal motion for a new trial is a critical stage of the prosecution, the Ninth Circuit’s holding that respondent’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated was not supported by clearly established federal law; the courts of appeals may not rely on circuit precedent to refine or sharpen a general principle of Supreme Court jurisprudence into a specific legal rule that the Court has not announced.
Holding: In his trial for rape, Jackson sought to present evidence to show that the victim had previously reported that he had assaulted her. The state supreme court held that the evidence was properly excluded, but in his federal habeas proceedings the Ninth Circuit ordered the state to either retry or release Jackson, on the ground that the exclusion of the evidence violated Jackson’s constitutional right to present a defense, and that the state supreme court’s contrary decision was an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the state supreme court’s application of the Supreme Court’s clearly established precedents was in fact reasonable when no prior decision by the Supreme Court clearly established that the exclusion of the evidence violated Jackson’s constitutional right.
Ryan v. Schad, No. 12-1084 [ Decided 06.24.2013]
Holding: After a defendant was denied certiorari review by the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit abused its discretion by sua sponte construing the defendant’s earlier motion to stay a mandate as a motion to reconsider, and when it withheld its mandate.