We live-blogged as the Supreme Court released its opinions in Dawson v. Steager and Timbs v. Indiana. The transcript of the live blog is available below and at this link.

Posted in Live

Wednesday round-up

By on Feb 20, 2019 at 7:16 am

This morning, in Mission Product Holdings Inc. v. Tempnology LLC, the justices will consider whether a trademark licensee retains any rights under a licensing agreement when the licensor goes bankrupt. Ronald Mann previewed the case for this blog. Cecelia Bruni and Brady Plastaras have a preview at Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute.

Yesterday the court released additional orders from Friday’s conference, adding an important Clean Water Act case to their docket for next term and invalidating for the second time in an unsigned opinion the death sentence of a Texas inmate who claims that he is ineligible for the death penalty because he is intellectually disabled. Amy Howe covers the order list for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. At E&E News, Ellen Gilmer reports that yesterday’s cert grant came in came in County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, “a case involving whether the law covers pollution that moves through groundwater before reaching a federal waterway,” and that “[e]nvironmental groups, states, industry and conservatives are watching the case closely, as its outcome could clarify or narrow EPA’s historical interpretation of the types of pollution discharges covered by the Clean Water Act.” Additional coverage comes from Ledyard King and Richard Wolf for USA Today, Brent Kendall and Jess Bravin for The Wall Street Journal, and Stephanie Sundier at Jurist.

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Posted in Round-up

Next week the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a case involving free speech and public-access television channels. Although the issue may sound somewhat obscure, internet giants like Facebook and YouTube are paying close attention, fearing that the court’s ruling could have ripple effects that limit their ability to control their content.

The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law” restricting freedom of speech. Through the 14th Amendment, the First Amendment also applies to state and local governments. Although the amendment does not generally apply to private actors, it does apply to people or entities who are acting on behalf of the government or doing something that the government would normally do – taking “state action,” so to speak.

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The justices have a light calendar this week, with only two arguments. If the first argument of the week (Return Mail Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service) is any guide, they’ve spent their extra time focusing carefully on the relatively thin session. At first glance, Return Mail is a simple statutory case, involving another in a long line of drafting flaws in the AIA (Congress’ 2011 patent-reform bill, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act). But the argument presented a highly engaged bench, with all of the justices (except Justice Clarence Thomas) asking pointed questions, several of which seemed to raise the stakes higher than we might expect for a simple patent case.

Justice Ginsburg asks first question of petitioner’s lawyer, Beth S. Brinkmann (Art Lien)

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The court is returning to the bench this morning after its usual four-week winter recess. The recess, marked by noteworthy “shadow docket” actions on the death penalty, abortion rights and other matters, may have offered more news than the relatively sleepy February sitting.

Today, though, the press section is filling up, and it is not because there is a groundswell of interest in today’s lone case for argument – a thorny patent dispute between a private business and the U.S. Postal Service over an invention to aid the swift processing of undeliverable mail.

Justice Ginsburg returns to the bench (Art Lien)

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Argument transcript

By on Feb 19, 2019 at 1:28 pm

The transcript of oral argument in Return Mail Inc. v. United States Postal Service is available on the Supreme Court’s website.


Posted in Merits Cases

Last Friday the justices added the dispute over the decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census to their merits docket. Today they issued more orders from last week’s conference, granting review in another case and throwing out – for the second time – the death sentence of a Texas inmate who argues that he cannot be executed because he is intellectually disabled.

The Clean Water Act bars the discharge of any pollutant into “navigable waters” without a permit. In its lone grant on today’s order list, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether a violation of the CWA occurs only when a pollutant is released directly into navigable waters, or whether it is enough that the pollutant is released indirectly.

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Tuesday round-up

By on Feb 19, 2019 at 6:47 am

This morning the justices will return from a four-week break to hear oral argument in Return Mail Inc. v. United States Postal Service, in which they will consider whether the federal government can challenge patents under the America Invents Act. Ronald Mann previewed the case for this blog. Garion Liberti and Tayler Woelcke have a preview at Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. Subscript Law offers a graphic explainer for the case. First Mondays (podcast) previews both of this week’s oral arguments.

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Posted in Round-up

OT2018 #19: “Fake Mootness”

By on Feb 18, 2019 at 8:27 am

As we enter the February sitting, we give you the rarest of episodes: a completely comprehensive preview of all the cases that will be argued this week! All two of them!

This week at the court

By on Feb 17, 2019 at 12:00 pm

The Supreme Court released orders from the February 15 conference on Tuesday; the justices added County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund to next term’s merits docket and summarily reversed in Moore v. Texas.

On Wednesday the justices released their opinions in Dawson v. Steager and Timbs v. Indiana.

On Tuesday, the justices heard oral argument in Return Mail Inc. v. United States Postal Service.

On Wednesday, the justices heard oral argument in Mission Product Holdings Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC.

On Friday, the justices will meet for their February 22 conference.

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