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October Term 2020

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Merits cases (to be) decided during OT 2020

Issue(s): Whether Alaska Native regional and village corporations are “Indian tribes” under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act and therefore are eligible for emergency-relief funds under Title V of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Issue(s): Whether the Sherman Act authorizes a court to subject the product-defining rules of a joint venture to full Rule of Reason review, and to hold those rules unlawful if, in the court’s view, they are not the least restrictive means that could have been used to accomplish their procompetitive goal.
Issue(s): Whether the exacting scrutiny the Supreme Court has long required of laws that abridge the freedoms of speech and association outside the election context – as called for by NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson and its progeny – can be satisfied absent any showing that a blanket governmental demand for the individual identities and addresses of major donors to private nonprofit organizations is narrowly tailored to an asserted law-enforcement interest.
Issue(s): Whether Section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, by authorizing “injunction[s],” also authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to demand monetary relief such as restitution—and if so, the scope of the limits or requirements for such relief.
Issue(s): (1) Whether Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act compels states to authorize any voting practice that would be used disproportionately by racial minorities, even if existing voting procedures are race-neutral and offer all voters an equal opportunity to vote; and (2) whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit correctly held that Arizona’s ballot-harvesting prohibition was tainted by discriminatory intent even though the legislators were admittedly driven by partisan interests and by supposedly “unfounded” concerns about voter fraud.
Issue(s): Whether the approval by the secretary of health and human services of the Arkansas Works Amendment was lawful.
Issue(s): (1) Whether, for purposes of the Constitution’s appointments clause, administrative patent judges of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are principal officers who must be appointed by the president with the Senate’s advice and consent, or “inferior Officers” whose appointment Congress has permissibly vested in a department head; and (2) whether, if administrative patent judges are principal officers, the court of appeals properly cured any appointments clause defect in the current statutory scheme prospectively by severing the application of 5 U.S.C. § 7513(a) to those judges.
Issue(s): Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit erred in concluding that the secretary of health and human services may not authorize demonstration projects to test requirements that are designed to promote the provision of health-care coverage by means of facilitating the transition of Medicaid beneficiaries to commercial coverage and improving their health.
Borden v. U.S., No. 19-5410 [Arg: 11.03.20 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): Whether the “use of force” clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act encompasses crimes with a mens rea of mere recklessness.
Issue(s): Whether 28 U.S.C. 1447(d) permits a court of appeals to review any issue encompassed in a district court’s order remanding a removed case to state court when the removing defendant premised removal in part on the federal-officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1442, or the civil-rights removal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1443.
Issue(s): (1) Whether Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy, which does not count provisional ballots cast in person on Election Day outside of the voter’s designated precinct, violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; and (2) whether Arizona’s ballot-collection law, which permits only certain persons (i.e., family and household members, caregivers, mail carriers and elections officials) to handle another person’s completed early ballot, violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act or the 15th Amendment.
Brownback v. King, No. 19-546 [Arg: 11.09.20 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): Whether a final judgment in favor of the United States in an action brought under Section 1346(b)(1) of the Federal Tort Claims Act, on the ground that a private person would not be liable to the claimant under state tort law for the injuries alleged, bars a claim under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics that is brought by the same claimant, based on the same injuries, and against the same governmental employees whose acts gave rise to the claimant’s FTCA claim.
California v. Texas, No. 19-840 [Arg: 11.10.20 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): (1) Whether the individual and state plaintiffs in this case have established Article III standing to challenge the minimum-coverage provision in Section 5000A(a) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA); (2) whether reducing the amount specified in Section 5000A(c) to zero rendered the minimum-coverage provision unconstitutional; and (3) if so, whether the minimum-coverage provision is severable from the rest of the ACA.
Issue(s): Whether the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement extends to the home.
Cargill v. Doe I, No. 19-453 [Arg: 12.1.2020 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): (1) Whether the presumption against extraterritorial application of the Alien Tort Statute is displaced by allegations that a U.S. company generally conducted oversight of its foreign operations at its headquarters and made operational and financial decisions there, even though the conduct alleged to violate international law occurred in – and the plaintiffs suffered their injuries in – a foreign country; and (2) whether a domestic corporation is subject to liability in a private action under the Alien Tort Statute.
Carney v. Adams, No. 19-309 [Arg: 10.5.2020 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.10.2020]
Holding: Because Adams has not shown that he was “able and ready” to apply for a judicial vacancy in the imminent future, he has failed to show a “personal,” “concrete” and “imminent” injury necessary for Article III standing.
Carr v. Saul, No. 19-1442 [Arg: 3.3.2021]
Issue(s): Whether a claimant seeking disability benefits under the Social Security Act forfeits an appointments-clause challenge to the appointment of an administrative law judge by failing to present that challenge during administrative proceedings.
Issue(s): Whether the uncompensated appropriation of an easement that is limited in time effects a per se physical taking under the Fifth Amendment.
Issue(s): Whether the Anti-Injunction Act’s bar on lawsuits for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of taxes also bars challenges to unlawful regulatory mandates issued by administrative agencies that are not taxes.
Holding: The mere retention of estate property after the filing of a bankruptcy petition does not violate 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(3), which operates as a “stay” of “any act” to “exercise control” over the property of the estate.
Issue(s): Whether, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit alone has held, district courts “lack[] discretion to deny or reduce” appellate costs deemed “taxable” in district court under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 39(e).
Collins v. Mnuchin, No. 19-422 [Arg: 12.9.2020 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): (1) Whether the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s structure violates the separation of powers; and (2) whether the courts must set aside a final agency action that FHFA took when it was unconstitutionally structured and strike down the statutory provisions that make FHFA independent.
Davis v. Saul, No. 20-105 [Arg: 3.3.2021]
Issue(s): Whether a claimant seeking disability benefits under the Social Security Act forfeits an appointments-clause challenge to the appointment of an administrative law judge by failing to present that challenge during administrative proceedings.
Issue(s): Whether an impeachment trial before a legislative body is a “judicial proceeding” under Rule 6(e)(3)(E)(i) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Edwards v. Vannoy, No. 19-5807 [Arg: 12.2.2020 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): Whether the Supreme Court’s decision in Ramos v. Louisiana applies retroactively to cases on federal collateral review.
Issue(s): Whether the definition of an "automatic telephone dialing system" in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 encompasses any device that can “store” and “automatically dial” telephone numbers, even if the device does not “us[e] a random or sequential number generator.”
Issue(s): Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit erred in vacating as arbitrary and capricious the Federal Communications Commission orders under review, which, among other things, relaxed the agency’s cross-ownership restrictions to accommodate changed market conditions.
Issue(s): (1) Whether the “expropriation exception” of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which abrogates foreign sovereign immunity when “rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue,” provides jurisdiction over claims that a foreign sovereign has violated international human-rights law when taking property from its own national within its own borders, even though such claims do not implicate the established international law governing states’ responsibility for takings of property; and (2) whether the doctrine of international comity is unavailable in cases against foreign sovereigns, even in cases of considerable historical and political significance to the foreign sovereign, and even when the foreign nation has a domestic framework for addressing the claims.
Florida v. Georgia, No. 22o142 [Arg: 1.8.2018 Trans./Aud.
Arg: 2.22.2021]
Issue(s): Whether Florida is entitled to equitable apportionment of the waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin and appropriate injunctive relief against Georgia to sustain an adequate flow of fresh water into the Apalachicola Region.
Issue(s): Whether the “arise out of or relate to” requirement of the 14th Amendment's due process clause is met when none of the defendant’s forum contacts caused the plaintiff’s claims, such that the plaintiff’s claims would be the same even if the defendant had no forum contacts.
Issue(s): Whether the “arise out of or relate to” requirement for a state court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant under Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz is met when none of the defendant’s forum contacts caused the plaintiff’s claims, such that the plaintiff’s claims would be the same even if the defendant had no forum contacts.
Issue(s): Whether free exercise plaintiffs can only succeed by proving a particular type of discrimination claim — namely that the government would allow the same conduct by someone who held different religious views — as two circuits have held, or whether courts must consider other evidence that a law is not neutral and generally applicable, as six circuits have held; (2) whether Employment Division v. Smith should be revisited; and (3) whether the government violates the First Amendment by conditioning a religious agency’s ability to participate in the foster care system on taking actions and making statements that directly contradict the agency’s religious beliefs.
Issue(s): (1) Whether a defendant in a securities class action may rebut the presumption of classwide reliance recognized in Basic Inc. v. Levinson by pointing to the generic nature of the alleged misstatements in showing that the statements had no impact on the price of the security, even though that evidence is also relevant to the substantive element of materiality; and (2) whether a defendant seeking to rebut the Basic presumption has only a burden of production or also the ultimate burden of persuasion.
Issue(s): (1) Whether copyright protection extends to a software interface; and (2) whether, as the jury found, the petitioner’s use of a software interface in the context of creating a new computer program constitutes fair use.
Issue(s): Whether, when applying plain-error review based on an intervening United States Supreme Court decision, Rehaif v. United States, a circuit court of appeals may review matters outside the trial record to determine whether the error affected a defendant’s substantial rights or impacted the fairness, integrity or public reputation of the trial.
Issue(s): (1) Whether a settlement that is not under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act can trigger a contribution claim under CERCLA Section 113(f)(3)(B); and (2) whether a settlement that expressly disclaims any liability determination and leaves the settling party exposed to future liability can trigger a contribution claim under CERCLA Section 113(f)(3)(B).
Holding: Certiorari dismissed as improvidently granted.
Issue(s): Whether, in order to qualify for a hardship exemption under Section 7545(o)(9)(B)(i) of the Renewable Fuel Standards, a small refinery needs to receive uninterrupted, continuous hardship exemptions for every year since 2011.
Issue(s): Whether the Eighth Amendment requires the sentencing authority to make a finding that a juvenile is permanently incorrigible before imposing a sentence of life without parole.
Lange v. California, No. 20-18 [Arg: 2.24.2021]
Issue(s): Whether the pursuit of a person whom a police officer has probable cause to believe has committed a misdemeanor categorically qualifies as an exigent circumstance sufficient to allow the officer to enter a home without a warrant.
Issue(s): 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.
Holding: Under the unusual circumstances of this case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit should not have ventured into such an uncertain area of state tort law without first using state certification procedures to seek guidance from the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Issue(s): Whether a defendant in a patent infringement action who assigned the patent, or is in privity with an assignor of the patent, may have a defense of invalidity heard on the merits.
Mnuchin v. Collins, No. 19-563 [Arg: 12.9.2020 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): (1) Whether the statute’s anti-injunction clause, which precludes courts from taking any action that would “restrain or affect the exercise of powers or functions of the Agency as a conservator,” 12 U.S.C. 4617(f), precludes a federal court from setting aside the Third Amendment. 2. Whether the statute’s succession clause—under which FHFA, as conservator, inherits the shareholders’ rights to bring derivative actions on behalf of the enterprises—precludes the shareholders from challenging the Third Amendment.
Issue(s): Whether Alaska Native regional and village corporations established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act are “Indian Tribe[s]” for purposes of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Issue(s): Whether under Section 202(h) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 the Federal Communications Commission may repeal or modify media ownership rules that it determines are no longer “necessary in the public interest as the result of competition” without statistical evidence about the prospective effect of its rule changes on minority and female ownership.
Issue(s): Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit erroneously held, in conflict with decisions of other circuits and general antitrust principles, that the National Collegiate Athletic Association eligibility rules regarding compensation of student-athletes violate federal antitrust law.
Nestlé USA v. Doe I, No. 19-416 [Arg: 12.1.2020 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): (1) Whether an aiding and abetting claim against a domestic corporation brought under the Alien Tort Statute may overcome the extraterritoriality bar where the claim is based on allegations of general corporate activity in the United States and where the plaintiffs cannot trace the alleged harms, which occurred abroad at the hands of unidentified foreign actors, to that activity; and (2) whether the judiciary has the authority under the Alien Tort Statute to impose liability on domestic corporations.
Niz-Chavez v. Barr, No. 19-863 [Arg: 11.09.20 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): Whether, to serve notice in accordance with 8 U.S.C. § 1229(a) and trigger the stop-time rule, the government must serve a specific document that includes all the information identified in Section 1229(a), or whether the government can serve that information over the course of as many documents and as much time as it chooses.
Pereida v. Barr, No. 19-438 [Arg: 10.14.2020 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): Whether a criminal conviction bars a noncitizen from applying for relief from removal when the record of conviction is merely ambiguous as to whether it corresponds to an offense listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Pham v. Guzman Chavez, No. 19-897 [Arg: 1.11.2021 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): Whether the detention of an alien who is subject to a reinstated removal order and who is pursuing withholding or deferral of removal is governed by 8 U.S.C. § 1231, or instead by 8 U.S.C. § 1226.
Issue(s): Whether a district court may abstain from exercising jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act for reasons of international comity, in a matter in which former Hungarian nationals have sued the nation of Hungary to recover the value of property lost in Hungary during World War II but the plaintiffs made no attempt to exhaust local Hungarian remedies.
Rosen v. Alcaraz-Enriquez, No. 19-1156 [Arg: 2.23.2021]
Issue(s): Whether a court of appeals may conclusively presume an applicant’s testimony is credible and true whenever an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals adjudicates a withholding-of-removal application without making an explicit adverse credibility determination.
Rosen v. Dai, No. 19-1155 [Arg: 2.23.2021]
Issue(s): (1) Whether a court of appeals may conclusively presume that an asylum applicant’s testimony is credible and true whenever an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals adjudicates an application without making an explicit adverse credibility determination; and (2) whether the court of appeals violated the remand rule as set forth in INS v. Ventura when it determined in the first instance that the respondent, Ming Dai, was eligible for asylum and entitled to withholding of removal.
Holding: Arkansas’ Act 900 is not preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
Issue(s): Whether, under Section 5(f) of the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act and Section 8 of the Railroad Retirement Act, the Railroad Retirement Board’s denial of a request to reopen a prior benefits determination is a “final decision” subject to judicial review.
Issue(s): Whether, under 8 U.S.C. § 1254a(f)(4), a grant of temporary protected status authorizes eligible noncitizens to obtain lawful-permanent-resident status under 8 U.S.C. § 1255.
Holding: A decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit granting post-conviction relief to a man on Arizona's death row for his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel violated the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
Issue(s): (1) Whether, for purposes of the Constitution’s appointments clause, administrative patent judges of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are principal officers who must be appointed by the president with the Senate’s advice and consent, or “inferior Officers” whose appointment Congress has permissibly vested in a department head; and (2) whether, if administrative patent judges are principal officers, the court of appeals properly cured any appointments clause defect in the current statutory scheme prospectively by severing the application of 5 U.S.C. § 7513(a) to those judges.
Tanzin v. Tanvir, No. 19-71 [Arg: 10.6.2020 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.10.2020]
Holding: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993’s express remedies provision, 42 U. S. C. §2000bb–1(c), permits litigants, when appropriate, to obtain money damages against federal officials in their individual capacities for violating litigants' right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment.
Holding: Because any reasonable correctional officer should have realized that Trent Taylor’s conditions of confinement offended the Eighth Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit erred in granting the officers qualified immunity.
Issue(s): Whether pre-August 3, 2010, crack offenders sentenced under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C) have a “covered offense” under Section 404 of the First Step Act.
Texas v. California, No. 19-1019 [Arg: 11.10.20 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): (1) Whether the unconstitutional individual mandate to purchase minimum essential coverage is severable from the remainder of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and (2) whether the district court properly declared the ACA invalid in its entirety and unenforceable anywhere.
Texas v. New Mexico, No. 22O65 [Arg: 10.5.2020 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.14.2020]
Holding: Texas’ motion to review the Pecos River Master’s determination – that New Mexico was entitled to a delivery credit for evaporated water stored at Texas’ request under the Pecos River Compact – is denied.
Issue(s): (1) Whether exacting scrutiny or strict scrutiny applies to disclosure requirements that burden nonelectoral, expressive association rights; and (2) whether California’s disclosure requirement violates charities’ and their donors’ freedom of association and speech facially or as applied to the Thomas More Law Center.
Torres v. Madrid, No. 19-292 [Arg: 10.14.2020 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): Whether an unsuccessful attempt to detain a suspect by use of physical force is a “seizure” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 8th, 9th and 11th Circuits and the New Mexico Supreme Court hold, or whether physical force must be successful in detaining a suspect to constitute a “seizure,” as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals hold.
Issue(s): Whether either Article III or Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 permits a damages class action when the vast majority of the class suffered no actual injury, let alone an injury anything like what the class representative suffered.
Trump v. New York, No. 20-366 [Arg: 11.30.2020 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.18.2020]
Holding: Because the challengers have not shown standing and because the claims presented are not ripe for adjudication, the district court’s judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.
Trump v. Sierra Club, No. 20-138 [Arg: 2.22.2021]
Issue(s): (1) Whether respondents have a cognizable cause of action to obtain review of the acting secretary of defense’s compliance with a proviso in Section 8005 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act that the secretary’s authority to transfer funds internally between DOD appropriations accounts “may not be used unless for higher priority items, based on unforeseen military requirements, than those for which originally appropriated and in no case where the item for which funds are requested has been denied by the Congress”; and (2) whether in 2019 the acting secretary exceeded his statutory authority under Section 8005 by transferring approximately $2.5 billion in response to a request from the Department of Homeland Security for counterdrug assistance under 10 U.S.C. 284, including in the form of construction of fences along the southern border of the United States.
Issue(s): Whether Exemption 5 of the Freedom of Information Act, by incorporating the deliberative process privilege, protects against compelled disclosure of a federal agency’s draft documents that were prepared as part of a formal interagency consultation process under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and that concerned a proposed agency action that was later modified in the consultation process.
U.S. v. Arthrex Inc., No. 19-1434 [Arg: 3.1.2021]
Issue(s): (1) Whether, for purposes of the Constitution’s appointments clause, administrative patent judges of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are principal officers who must be appointed by the president with the Senate’s advice and consent, or “inferior Officers” whose appointment Congress has permissibly vested in a department head; and (2) whether, if administrative patent judges are principal officers, the court of appeals properly cured any appointments clause defect in the current statutory scheme prospectively by severing the application of 5 U.S.C. § 7513(a) to those judges.
U.S. v. Briggs, No. 19-108 [Arg: 10.13.2020 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.10.2020]
Holding: The prosecutions of three military service members for rape were timely under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
U.S. v. Collins, No. 19-184 [Arg: 10.13.2020 Trans./Aud.; Decided 12.10.2020]
Holding: The prosecutions of three military service members for rape were timely under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Issue(s): Whether the lower courts erred in suppressing evidence on the theory that a police officer of an Indian tribe lacked authority to temporarily detain and search the respondent, Joshua James Cooley, a non-Indian, on a public right-of-way within a reservation based on a potential violation of state or federal law.
Issue(s): Whether a defendant who pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) and 924(a), is automatically entitled to plain-error relief if the district court did not advise him that one element of that offense is knowledge of his status as a felon, regardless of whether he can show that the district court’s error affected the outcome of the proceedings.
Issue(s): Whether a defendant, charged with unlawful reentry into the United States following removal, automatically satisfies the prerequisites to asserting the invalidity of the original removal order as an affirmative defense solely by showing that he was removed for a crime that would not be considered a removable offense under current circuit law, even if he cannot independently demonstrate administrative exhaustion or deprivation of the opportunity for judicial review.
Issue(s): Whether a government’s post-filing change of an unconstitutional policy moots nominal-damages claims that vindicate the government’s past, completed violation of a plaintiff’s constitutional right.
Van Buren v. U.S., No. 19-783 [Arg: 11.30.2020 Trans./Aud.]
Issue(s): Whether a person who is authorized to access information on a computer for certain purposes violates Section 1030(a)(2) of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act if he accesses the same information for an improper purpose.
Wolf v. Innovation Law Lab, No. 19-1212 [Arg: 3.1.2021]
Issue(s): (1) Whether the Department of Homeland Security policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols is a lawful implementation of the statutory authority conferred by 8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(2)(C); (2) whether MPP is consistent with any applicable and enforceable non-refoulement obligations; (3) whether MPP is exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act requirement of notice-and-comment rulemaking; and (4) whether the district court’s universal preliminary injunction is impermissibly overbroad.