Breaking News

October Term 2018

View this list sorted by case name.

October Sitting

Holding: State and local governments are covered employers under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 regardless of the number of employees they have.
Holding: An area is eligible for designation as “critical habitat” under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 only if it is habitat for the listed species; and the decision by the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior not to exclude an area from critical habitat under 16 U. S. C. §1533(b)(2) is subject to judicial review.
Madison v. Alabama, No. 17-7505 [Arg: 10.2.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.27.2019]
Holding: The Eighth Amendment may permit executing a prisoner even if he cannot remember committing his crime, but it may prohibit executing a prisoner who suffers from dementia or another disorder rather than psychotic delusions.
Gundy v. U.S., No. 17-6086 [Arg: 10.2.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.20.2019]
Holding: The judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit that 34 U. S. C. §20913(d) – which requires the U.S. attorney general to apply the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act’s registration requirements as soon as feasible to offenders convicted before the statute’s enactment – is not an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority is affirmed.
New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, No. 17-340 [Arg: 10.3.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.15.2019]
Holding: A court should determine whether the Federal Arbitration Act’s Section 1 exclusion for disputes involving the “contracts of employment” of certain transportation workers applies before ordering arbitration; here, truck driver Dominic Oliveira’s independent contractor operating agreement with New Prime Inc. falls within that exception.
Stokeling v. U.S., No. 17-5554 [Arg: 10.9.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.15.2019]
Holding: The Armed Career Criminal Act’s elements clause encompasses a robbery offense that, like Florida’s law, requires the criminal to overcome the victim’s resistance.
U.S. v. Sims, No. 17-766 [Arg: 10.9.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.10.2018]
Holding: The term “burglary” in the Armed Career Criminal Act includes burglary of a structure or vehicle that has been adapted or is customarily used for overnight accommodation.
U.S. v. Stitt, No. 17-765 [Arg: 10.9.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.10.2018]
Holding: The term “burglary” in the Armed Career Criminal Act includes burglary of a structure or vehicle that has been adapted or is customarily used for overnight accommodation.
Holding: In the maritime tort context, a product manufacturer has a duty to warn when its product requires incorporation of a part, the manufacturer knows or has reason to know that the integrated product is likely to be dangerous for its intended uses, and the manufacturer has no reason to believe that the product’s users will realize that danger.
Nielsen v. Preap, No. 16-1363 [Arg: 10.10.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.19.2019]
Holding: The judgments of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit -- that respondents, who are deportable for certain specified crimes, are not subject to 8 U. S. C. §1226(c)(2)’s mandatory-detention requirement because they were not arrested by immigration officials as soon as they were released from jail -- are reversed, and the cases are remanded.

November Sitting

Holding: The “wholly groundless” exception to the general rule that courts must enforce contracts that delegate threshold arbitrability questions to an arbitrator, not a court, is inconsistent with the Federal Arbitration Act and Supreme Court precedent.
Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela, No. 17-988 [Arg: 10.29.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.24.2019]
Holding: Under the Federal Arbitration Act, an ambiguous agreement cannot provide the necessary contractual basis for concluding that the parties agreed to submit to class arbitration.
Garza v. Idaho, No. 17-1026 [Arg: 10.30.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.27.2019]
Holding: The presumption of prejudice for Sixth Amendment purposes recognized in Roe v. Flores-Ortega applies regardless of whether a defendant has signed an appeal waiver.
Holding: The Supreme Court of Washington’s judgment -- that the “right to travel” provision of the 1855 Treaty Between the United States and the Yakama Nation of Indians pre-empts the state’s fuel tax as applied to Cougar Den’s importation of fuel by public highway for sale within the reservation -- is affirmed.
Jam v. Int'l Finance Corp., No. 17-1011 [Arg: 10.31.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.27.2019]
Holding: The International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945 affords international organizations the same immunity from suit that foreign governments enjoy today under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976.
Frank v. Gaos, No. 17-961 [Arg: 10.31.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 03.20.2019]
Holding: This class action settlement case is remanded for the courts below to address the plaintiffs’ standing in light of Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins.
Sturgeon v. Frost, No. 17-949 [Arg: 11.5.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 3.26.2019]
Holding: Alaska’s Nation River is not public land; and like all non-public lands and navigable waters within Alaska’s national parks, it is exempt under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act from the National Park Service’s ordinary regulatory authority.
Virginia Uranium v. Warren, No. 16-1275 [Arg: 11.5.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.17.2019]
Holding: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit’s judgment that the Atomic Energy Act does not preempt Virginia’s prohibition on uranium mining in the commonwealth is affirmed.
Bucklew v. Precythe, No. 17-8151 [Arg: 11.6.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.01.2019]
Holding: Baze v. Rees and Glossip v. Gross govern all Eighth Amendment challenges alleging that a method of execution inflicts unconstitutionally cruel pain; Russell Bucklew’s as-applied challenge to Missouri’s single-drug execution protocol -- that it would cause him severe pain because of his particular medical condition -- fails to satisfy the Baze-Glossip test.
Holding: A railroad’s payment to an employee for working time lost due to an on-the-job injury is taxable “compensation” under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act.
Culbertson v. Berryhill, No. 17-773 [Arg: 11.7.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 01.08.2019]
Holding: The Social Security Act’s fee cap of 25 percent of past-due benefits imposed on attorneys who successfully represent Title II benefit claimants in court proceedings applies only to fees for court representation and not to aggregate fees for both court and agency representation.
Holding: When civil process is served on a foreign state under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, 28 U. S. C. §1608(a)(3) requires a mailing to be sent directly to the foreign minister’s office in the foreign state.
Sharp v. Murphy, No. 17-1107 [Arg: 11.27.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 7.9.2020]
Holding: The judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit is affirmed for the reasons stated in McGirt v. Oklahoma.

December Sitting

Nieves v. Bartlett, No. 17-1174 [Arg: 11.26.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.28.2019]
Holding: Because police officers had probable cause to arrest Russell Bartlett, his First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim fails as a matter of law.
Apple Inc. v. Pepper, No. 17-204 [Arg: 11.26.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 05.13.2019]
Holding: Respondents, who purchased apps for their iPhones though Apple’s App Store, were direct purchasers from Apple under Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois and may sue Apple for allegedly monopolizing the retail market for the sale of iPhone apps.
Holding: Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f), which establishes a 14-day deadline to seek permission to appeal an order granting or denying class certification, is not subject to equitable tolling.
Timbs v. Indiana, No. 17-1091 [Arg: 11.28.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.20.2019]
Holding: The Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause is an incorporated protection applicable to the states under the 14th Amendment’s due process clause.
Holding: Dissemination of false or misleading statements with intent to defraud can fall within the scope of Securities and Exchange Commission Rules 10b–5(a) and (c), as well as the relevant statutory provisions, even if the disseminator cannot be held liable under Rule 10b–5(b).
Dawson v. Steager, No. 17-419 [Arg: 12.3.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 02.20.2019]
Holding: By taxing the federal pension benefits of U.S. Marshals Service retiree James Dawson, while exempting from taxation the pension benefits of certain state and local law enforcement officers, West Virginia unlawfully discriminates against Dawson as 4 U.S.C. §111 forbids.
Holding: The sale of an invention to a third party who is obligated to keep the invention confidential may place the invention “on sale” for purposes of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which bars a person from receiving a patent on an invention that was “in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention,” 35 U. S. C. §102(a)(1).
Biestek v. Berryhill, No. 17-1184 [Arg: 12.4.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.01.2019]
Holding: A vocational expert’s refusal to provide private market-survey data during a Social Security disability benefits hearing upon the applicant’s request does not categorically preclude the testimony from counting as “substantial evidence” in federal court under 42 U. S. C. §405(g).
Gamble v. U.S., No. 17-646 [Arg: 12.6.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.17.2019]
Holding: The dual-sovereignty doctrine – under which two offenses are not the “same offence” for double jeopardy purposes if prosecuted by separate sovereigns – is upheld.

January Sitting

Holding: A business engaged in no more than nonjudicial foreclosure proceedings is not a “debt collector” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, except for the limited purpose of enforcing security interests under 15 U. S. C. §1692f(6).
Holding: “Clear evidence” that the Food and Drug Administration would not have approved a change to a drug’s label – thus pre-empting a state-law failure-to-warn claim – is evidence showing that the drug manufacturer fully informed the FDA of the justifications for the warning required by state law and that the FDA, in turn, informed the drug manufacturer that the FDA would not approve a change to the drug’s label to include that warning; the question of agency disapproval is primarily one of law for a judge to decide.
Holding: Registration occurs, and a copyright claimant may commence an infringement suit, when the Copyright Office registers a copyright.
Herrera v. Wyoming, No. 17-532 [Arg: 1.8.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 05.20.2019]
Holding: Wyoming’s statehood did not abrogate the Crow Tribe’s 1868 federal treaty right to hunt on the “unoccupied lands of the United States”; the lands of the Bighorn National Forest did not become categorically “occupied” when the forest was created.
Holding: Nevada v. Hall is overruled; states retain their sovereign immunity from private suits brought in courts of other states.
Holding: A federal district court’s discretion to award “full costs” to a party in copyright litigation pursuant to 17 U. S. C. §505 is limited to the six categories specified in the general costs statute codified at 28 U. S. C. §§1821 and 1920.
Holding: Title 16 U.S.C. §831c(b), which serves to waive the Tennessee Valley Authority’s sovereign immunity from suit, is not subject to a discretionary function exception of the kind in the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Holding: Because the Department of Health and Human Services neglected its statutory notice-and-comment obligations when it revealed a new policy that dramatically – and retroactively – reduced Medicare payments to hospitals serving low-income patients, its policy must be vacated.
Holding: Neither the general removal provision, 28 U.S.C. §1441(a), nor the removal provision in the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, §1453(b), permit a third-party counterclaim defendant to remove a class-action claim from state to federal court.
Holding: Tennessee’s 2-year durational-residency requirement applicable to retail liquor store license applicants violates the commerce clause and is not saved by the 21st Amendment.
Holding: A government violates the takings clause when it takes property without compensation, and a property owner may bring a Fifth Amendment claim under 42 U. S. C. §1983 at that time; the state-litigation requirement of Williamson County Regional Planning Comm’n v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, is overruled.

February Sitting

Holding: The federal government is not a “person” capable of petitioning the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to institute patent review proceedings under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.
Holding: A bankruptcy debtor’s rejection of an executory contract under 11 U.S.C. §365 has the same effect as a breach of that contract outside bankruptcy; such an act thus cannot rescind rights that the contract previously granted.
Holding: Manhattan Community Access Corp., a private nonprofit corporation designated by New York City to operate the public access channels on the Manhattan cable system owned by Time Warner (now Charter), is not a state actor subject to the First Amendment.
Mont v. U.S., No. 17-8995 [Arg: 2.26.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.02.2019]
Holding: Pretrial detention later credited as time served for a new conviction tolls a supervised-release term under 18 U.S.C. §3624(e), even if the court must make the tolling calculation after learning whether the time will be credited.
U.S. v. Haymond, No. 17-1672 [Arg: 2.26.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.26.2019]
Holding: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit’s judgment – that 18 U. S. C. §3583(k)’s last two sentences are unconstitutional and unenforceable – is vacated, and the case is remanded.
Holding: The Bladensburg Cross does not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Holding: The Bladensburg Cross does not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

March Sitting

Holding: The House of Delegates lacks standing to appeal the invalidation of Virginia’s redistricting plan.
Smith v. Berryhill, No. 17-1606 [Arg: 3.18.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 5.28.2019]
Holding: A Social Security Administration Appeals Council dismissal on timeliness grounds of a request for review after a claimant has had an administrative law judge hearing on the merits qualifies as a “final decision . . . made after a hearing” for purposes of allowing judicial review under 42 U.S.C. §405(g).
Holding: The limitations period in 31 U.S.C. §3731(b)(2) -- which provides that a False Claims Act action must be brought within three years after the “the official of the United States charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances” knew or should have known the relevant facts, but not more than 10 years after the violation -- applies in a qui tam suit in which the federal government has declined to intervene; the relator in a nonintervened suit is not “the official of the United States” whose knowledge triggers §3731(b)(2)’s limitations period.
Flowers v. Mississippi, No. 17-9572 [Arg: 3.20.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.21.2019]
Holding: The trial court at Curtis Flowers’ sixth murder trial committed clear error in concluding that the state’s peremptory strike of a particular black prospective juror was not motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent.
Holding: A plaintiff may not recover punitive damages on a maritime claim of unseaworthiness.
Holding: The extent to which a 2006 Federal Communications Commission order interpreting the term “unsolicited advertisement” binds lower courts may depend on the resolution of two preliminary questions that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit should address in the first instance: (1) whether the order is the equivalent of a legislative rule, which has the force and effect of law, or an interpretative rule, which does not; and (2) whether PDR Network, LLC had a “prior” and “adequate” opportunity to seek judicial review of the order.
Lamone v. Benisek, No. 18-726 [Arg: 3.26.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.27.2019]
Holding: Partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.
Rucho v. Common Cause, No. 18-422 [Arg: 3.26.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.27.2019]
Holding: Partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.
Kisor v. Wilkie, No. 18-15 [Arg: 3.27.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.26.2019]
Holding: Auer v. Robbins and Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co – under which deference is given to an agency’s reasonable reading of its own genuinely ambiguous regulations – are not overruled.

April Sitting

Emulex Corp. v. Varjabedian, No. 18-459 [Arg: 4.15.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 04.23.2019]
Issue(s): Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit correctly held, in express disagreement with five other courts of appeals, that Section 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 supports an inferred private right of action based on the negligent misstatement or omission made in connection with a tender offer.
Iancu v. Brunetti, No. 18-302 [Arg: 4.15.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.24.2019]
Holding: The Lanham Act prohibition on the registration of “immoral” or “scandalous” trademarks infringes the First Amendment.
Holding: The presence of in-state beneficiaries alone does not empower a state to tax trust income that has not been distributed to the beneficiaries where the beneficiaries have no right to demand that income and are uncertain to receive it.
Holding: Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, when federal law addresses the relevant issue, state law is not adopted as surrogate federal law on the Outer Continental Shelf.
McDonough v. Smith, No. 18-485 [Arg: 4.17.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.20.2019]
Holding: The statute of limitations for Edward McDonough’s 42 U. S. C. §1983 fabricated-evidence claim against his prosecutor began to run when the criminal proceedings against him terminated in his favor – that is, when he was acquitted at the end of his second trial.
U.S. v. Davis, No. 18-431 [Arg: 4.17.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.24.2019]
Holding: Title 18 U. S. C. §924(c)(3)(B), which provides enhanced penalties for using a firearm during a “crime of violence,” is unconstitutionally vague.
Holding: The charge-filing precondition to suit set out in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is not a jurisdictional requirement.
Holding: Where commercial or financial information is both customarily and actually treated as private by its owner and provided to the government under an assurance of privacy, the information is “confidential” within the meaning of 5 U. S. C. §552(b)(4), the Freedom of Information Act’s Exemption 4.
Mitchell v. Wisconsin, No. 18-6210 [Arg: 4.23.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.27.2019]
Holding: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s judgment – affirming the drunk-driving convictions of Gerald Mitchell, who was administered a warrantless blood test while he was unconscious – is vacated, and the case is remanded.
Holding: The secretary of the Department of Commerce did not violate the enumeration clause or the Census Act in deciding to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire, but the district court was warranted in remanding the case back to the agency where the evidence tells a story that does not match the secretary’s explanation for his decision.
Rehaif v. U.S., No. 17-9560 [Arg: 4.23.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.21.2019]
Holding: In a prosecution under 18 U. S. C. §922(g) and §924(a)(2), the government must prove both that the defendant knew he possessed a firearm and that he knew he belonged to the relevant category of persons barred from possessing a firearm.
Taggart v. Lorenzen, No. 18-489 [Arg: 4.24.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.02.2019]
Holding: A creditor may be held in civil contempt for violating a bankruptcy court’s discharge order if there is no fair ground of doubt as to whether the order barred the creditor’s conduct.
Quarles v. U.S., No. 17-778 [Arg: 4.24.2019 Trans./Aud.; Decided 06.10.2019]
Holding: Michigan’s third-degree home-invasion statute substantially corresponds to or is narrower than generic burglary for purposes of qualifying for enhanced sentencing under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

Decided without oral argument

Holding: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit failed to conduct the analysis required by Supreme Court precedents in determining whether two Escondido police officers were entitled to qualified immunity.
Shoop v. Hill, No. 18-56 [ Decided 1.7.2019]
Holding: Because Danny Hill’s intellectual disability claim must be evaluated based solely on holdings of the Supreme Court that were clearly established at the time the state-court decisions were rendered, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit’s reliance on Moore v. Texas -- which was handed down much later -- was plainly improper.
Yovino v. Rizo, No. 18-272 [ Decided 2.25.2019]
Holding: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit erred when it counted as a member of the majority a judge who died before the court’s opinion in this case was filed.
Moore v. Texas, No. 18-443 [ Decided 2.19.2019]
Holding: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ redetermination that Bobby James Moore does not have an intellectual disability and is thus eligible for the death penalty is inconsistent with the Supreme Court's 2017 decision in Moore v. Texas.
Holding: Indiana’s law relating to the disposition of fetal remains by abortion providers passes rational basis review; certiorari is denied on the question whether the state may bar the knowing provision of sex-, race- or disability-selective abortions by abortion providers, as only the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has addressed this kind of law.

Cases dismissed from merits docket

Issue(s): Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has jurisdiction under 38 U.S.C. § 502 to review an interpretive rule reflecting the Department of Veterans Affairs’ definitive interpretation of its own regulation, even if the VA chooses to promulgate that rule through its adjudication manual.
Issue(s): Whether, in an action seeking to set aside agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., a district court may order discovery outside the administrative record to probe the mental processes of the agency decisionmaker—including by compelling the testimony of high-ranking Executive Branch officials—when there is no evidence that the decisionmaker disbelieved the objective reasons in the administrative record, irreversibly prejudged the issue, or acted on a legally forbidden basis.

Argued but rescheduled for next term

Sharp v. Murphy, No. 17-1107 [Arg: 11.27.2018 Trans./Aud.; Decided 7.9.2020]
Holding: The judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit is affirmed for the reasons stated in McGirt v. Oklahoma.