Tag Archives: scotus

SCOTUS Opinion: Gay and Transgender Employees Are Protected Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Bostock v. Clayton County consisted of several cases in which a long-time employee was terminated solely for being gay or transgender. Those employees sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful to fire an employee “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” arguing that employment discrimination on account of ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Declines to Preclude Nonsignatories from Being Able to Enforce Arbitration Provision

At the heart of GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS, Corp. v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC is a construction contract with an arbitration clause. One of the signatories to that contract engaged a subcontractor to do part of that construction. When the subcontractor’s work allegedly failed, the owner sued the subcontractor. The subcontractor moved to dismiss the case and compel ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Upholds Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board Against Appointments Clause Challenge

After Puerto Rico suffered a fiscal crisis starting in 2006, Congress enacted the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, creating a Financial Oversight and Management Board that would be able to file bankruptcy on behalf of Puerto Rico or its instrumentalities, among other things, to regain financial stability. The members of the Board were to be appointed by ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Motion to Amend Judgment in Habeas Proceeding is Not a Separate Habeas Petition

After Gregory Banister was sentenced to 30 years in prison in Texas state court, and after he had exhausted his appeals in the Texas courts, he filed a petition for habeas relief under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, arguing, among other things, ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court denied the petition. Banister then filed a ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Beneficiaries Receiving Full Benefits Have No Standing To Challenge ERISA Plan Governance

U.S. Bank maintains a retirement plan for its employees. Two of those beneficiaries, who had retired, were entitled to a fixed payment each month, and received every such payment. Regardless, they sued their former employer under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, arguing that the plan had been mismanaged and should be re-payed about $750 million. The Eighth ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Enlarges Scope of Judicial Review of Orders Under the Convention Against Torture

Nidal Khalid Nasrallah received some stolen property, which made him eligible to be removed under federal immigration law. Nasrallah argued to the immigration court that he should not be removed to his home country of Lebanon under the Convention Against Torture because it was likely that, as a member of the Druze religion, he would be tortured upon his return ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Declines to Suspend COVID-19 Restrictions on Church Worship in California

The Governor of California issued an executive order to limit the spread of COVID-19, which in part limited attendance at places of worship to 25% of building capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. Several churches challenged that order, and asked the courts to enter an injunction staying its effect during the course of the litigation due to its First ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Stays District Court’s Order Affecting Wisconsin’s Election

Despite the ongoing danger of COVID-19, Wisconsin decided to go forward with its election on April 7. Since voters would be discouraged from arriving en masse at the polls, it was expected that absentee voting would surge. Various political groups filed suit to ease the burden of absentee voting. Although Wisconsin law required absentee votes to be received by 8 ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Age Discrimination Need Not Be The But-For Cause To Be Actionable

In Babb v. Wilkie, a clinical pharmacist at a Veterans Affairs medical center alleged that he suffered various adverse personnel actions due to age discrimination. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, personnel actions affecting individuals 40 and over must be made “free from any discrimination based on age.” The VA offered legitimate reasons for its actions and ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Permits Routine Stops Of Vehicles Whose Owners Have Revoked Licenses

While on routine patrol, a Kansas deputy ran the plate of a vehicle and discovered that its owner, Charles Glover, Jr., had a revoked driver’s license. On that basis alone, the deputy pulled over the vehicle, assuming, correctly, that Glover was driving it. Glover was charged with driving as a habitual violator and Glover appealed, arguing that the deputy lacked ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: “Safe-Berth” Clause In Maritime Contract Creates A Warranty of Safety

In Citgo Asphalt Refining Company v. Frescati Shipping Company, a punctured hull in a tanker caused a huge oil spill, which the owner of the tanker and the United States then paid millions to clean up. Those parties then sued the groups who chartered the tanker to recover those costs under a clause in the maritime contract that required the ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Courts May Consider Whether Deadline To Contest A Removal Order Has Been Equitably Tolled

When the Government has ordered that an immigrant be removed from the country for committing certain crimes, the Immigration and Nationality Act allows judicial review only on “constitutional claims or questions of law.” In Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr, two such immigrants sought appellate review of their removal orders based on whether their motions to reopen their removal proceedings were untimely or ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Civil Rights Plaintiffs Must Prove But-For Causation

For years, Entertainment Studios Network, an African-American owned company, sought to have Comcast Corp. carry its channels. Comcast refused and ESN sued, alleging racial discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. ESN alleged that Comcast’s legitimate business reasons for refusing to carry ESN channels were pretextual. The district court dismissed the complaint, holding that ESN had failed to allege but-for causation ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: States Need Not Have Insanity Defense Based on Moral Understanding

Kansas permits defendants to raise an insanity defense based on whether the defendant “lacked the culpable mental state required as an element of the offense charged.” James Kahler, who was charged with capital murder for killing four family members, argued that he should have been able to raise an insanity defense based on whether he had a mental illness that ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: States Immune from Copyright Claims

When North Carolina published a photographer’s copyrighted work recording operations to recover a shipwreck off of its coast, the photographer sued under the Copyright Remedy and Classification Act of 1990. The district court held that the Act abrogated State sovereign immunity from such claims, but the Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that the decision in Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Ed. Expense Bd ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Appellate Courts Must Review Late-Raised Arguments For Plain Error

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 52(b) provides that where a criminal defendant fails to raise an argument in the district court, the appellate court can review the issue for plain error. The Fifth Circuit, as opposed to other circuits, had the practice of refusing to review factual matters not raised before the district court. In Davis v. United States, a ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: No Pre-emption for States to Use Federal Immigration Information to Enforce State Identity Theft Law

Under federal law, employers must verify, through an I-9 form, that they have “verified” that each new employee “is not an unauthorized alien.” In Kansas v. Garcia, three persons who were living in the United States illegally used the same false Social Security number on their I-9 forms, as well as their tax withholding forms, and were prosecuted under ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Strictly Interprets “Actual Knowledge” For ERISA Limitations Period

Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, a person with “actual knowledge” of an alleged fiduciary breach by the administrator of a pension plan must file suit within three years of gaining such knowledge—otherwise, a six-year limitations period applies. In Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, Intel argued that its former employee filed such a claim ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Rejects Comparison of State Offenses to Generic Offenses for Armed Career Criminal Act Enhancement

The Armed Career Criminal Act mandates a 15-year sentence for defendants that have prior convictions for a “serious drug offense” that “involve[es] manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance.” Eddie Lee Shular had six prior Florida convictions for selling and possessing cocaine with intent to sell. The federal trial court deemed those to be ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Permits Appellate Review of Added Mitigating Factor in Death Penalty Case

After James McKinney was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, the trial court sentenced him to death upon the finding that he had two aggravating circumstances for each such murder. Twenty years later, a narrowly divided en banc Ninth Circuit reversed upon habeas review, holding that the state courts had not properly considered McKinney's post-traumatic stress disorder as a ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Strikes Down The “Bob Richards Rule”

The IRS allows affiliated corporations to file a group tax return. When the IRS issues a tax return to the group as a whole, federal law does not describe how to allocate the funds. The Ninth Circuit created a rule for that when it decided In re Bob Richards Chrysler-Plymouth Corp., 473 F.2d 262 (1973). The "Bob Richards Rule" mandated ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Declines To Extend Bivens To Allow Suit Against Border Agent For Shooting

U.S. Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa, Jr. shot 15 year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca while Mesa was on U.S. land, and Hernandez had run back across onto Mexican soil. Hernandez's family sued Mesa under Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), which permits damages claims against federal agents even though no federal statute authorized the claim ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Infant’s “Habitual Residence” Not Determined by Agreement of the Parents

The Hague Convention requires that a child wrongfully removed from her country of "habitual residence" must be returned to that country. In Monasky v. Taglieri, an infant was born in Italy to an American mother and Italian father. The relationship was abusive, and the mother soon relocated to America, taking the child with her. The father moved to have ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Enforces Removal Jurisdiction In Vacating Orders Against The Catholic Church

The case of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Yuan, Puerto Rico v. Feliciano concerned complaints filed by employees of Catholic schools in Puerto Rico alleging wrongful termination of their pension plan. Initially, the Puerto Rico trial court determined that the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church in Puerto Rico was the proper entity that owed obligations to the plan, and ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Enforces The “American Rule” Of Costs Against The Patent And Trademark Office

The Patent Act provides that when an applicant for a patent brings suit against the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) when the Office rejects the applicant’s patent, the applicant must pay “[a]ll the expenses of the proceedings.” In Peter v. Nantkwest, Inc., a patent applicant sued the PTO under the Act when the PTO denied its application for a ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Rejects Discovery Rule For Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Claims

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that claims be brought “within one year from the date on which the violation occurs.” In Rotkiske v. Klemm, a debt collector filed suit against Kevin Rotkiske, served him where he no longer lived, and obtained a default judgment against him in 2009. Rotkiske learned of the judgment in 2014, and sued ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Remands Alaska Political Contribution Limits Case For Closer Review

The first opinion handed down by the Court in its 2019 Term concerned Alaska’s law limiting contributions to candidates or election-oriented groups to $500 per year. The Ninth Circuit upheld the law, but the Court, in a per curiam decision in Thompson v. Hebdon, reversed and remanded. The Court noted that the Ninth Circuit chose not to apply the ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Police May Take Blood Test Of Unconscious Driver Without Warrant Under Exigent Circumstances Doctrine

After Gerald Mitchell was arrested for driving while intoxicated, his breath test came out three times over the legal limit. He then became unconscious. Wisconsin law presumed that an unconscious person consents to a blood test, so the police took him to a hospital where a blood test revealed his BAC well over the legal limit. During his prosecution, Mitchell ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Decides That Federal Courts Cannot Address Partisan Gerrymandering Claims

The case of Rucho v. Common Cause combined two different gerrymandering claims: one from North Carolina where the claim was that the redistricting plan hurt Democrats, one from Maryland which claimed that the plan hurt Republicans. In both cases, the district courts ruled that the plans violated the Constitution. The Court, in a 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, ... Read More

SCOTUS Opinion: Court Blocks The Citizenship Question From The 2020 Census Questionnaire For Now

The Constitution requires a census to be taken every 10 years, and Congress delegated that task to the Secretary of Commerce. In 2018, the Secretary announced that he would reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire, a question that had been included in almost every census up through 2000. Opposition to the question claimed that the question would ... Read More