United States Supreme Court

Opinions Filed in 2015

January 11 summaries

Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans

Under the Truth In Lending Act a borrower only needs to give written notice to his lender within three years when the borrower chooses to rescind a loan; the borrower does not need to file a lawsuit.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Whitfield v. United States

The word "accompany" in 18 U.S.C. §2113, which creates increased penalties for actions taken during the commission of, or flight from, a bank robbery, means "to go with" even over short distances.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Jennings v. Stephens

Petitioner seeking habeas relief for ineffective assistance of counsel under two Wiggins theories was not required to file cross-appeal to preserve a Spisak claim because it would not enlarge Petitioner’s rights nor diminish the rights of the State under a District Court’s judgment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

T-Mobile South, LLC v. City of Roswell

Under § 332(c)(7)(B)(iii) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a locality must state the reasoning for the denial of an application, and that reasoning may be issued in another written record so long as it is "essentially contemporaneously" with the denial.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

Christeson v. Roper

Substitution of a habeas petitioner’s appointed counsel is permissible pursuant to Martel. v. Clair when appointed counsel faces a conflict of interest due to appointed counsel’s possible malfeasance in abandonment of petitioner’s case.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Holt v.Hobbs

RLUIPA does not allow a Department of Corrections to enforce a policy that prohibits an inmate from growing a half inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs.

Area(s) of Law:
  • First Amendment

Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc.

When reviewing a district court’s analysis of factual matters made in advocation of a patent claim, a court must apply a “clear error” instead of a de novo standard.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Dept. of Homeland Security v. MacLean

Disclosure of sensitive security information to the media prohibited by a promulgated federal regulation is not a disclosure prohibited by law under the whistleblower protections of 5 U.S.C. §2302(b)(8)(A).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Gelboim v. Bank of America

When a case that is part of a consolidated proceedings in multidistrict litigation is dismissed on the merits, the district court has made a final decision that to remove the case from the consolidated proceedings and the case may be appealed under § 1291.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Hana Financial, Inc, v. Hana Bank, et. al.

Trademark priority should be considered a factual question to be determined by a jury.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Trademarks

M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett

Collectively bargained for benefit agreements should be interpreted under ordinary principles of contract law without undue inferences into the intent of the parties.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Contract Law

February 3 summaries

Kansas v. Nebraska

The recommendations of the Special Master appointed pursuant to the 2007 settlement of Kansas v. Nebraska should be followed to account for water allocation from the Republican River Basin under the Republican River Compact.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Water Rights

North Caroline State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission

State immunity does not protect agencies run by active market participants from antitrust laws unless that agency is under state supervision.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sovereign Immunity

Yates v. United States

"Tangible object," as used in 18 USC § 1519 and elsewhere in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, refers to a physical object capable of recording or preserving information.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

March 12 summaries

Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl

The Tax Injunction Act does not bar suits in federal district courts where petitioners seek to enjoin enforcement of notice and reporting requirements, which is different than assessment, collection, or levy of taxes.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tax Law

Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation, Inc.

Alabama’s sales and use tax exemption for diesel fuel purchases by motor carriers and water carriers, but not rail carriers, does not violate the Railroad Revitalization and Reform Act, 49 USC 11501 et. seq. because Alabama does not treat similarly situated taxpayers differently and provides sufficient justification for their different tax treatment of water carriers.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tax Law

Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads

When Amtrak assists the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in creating metrics and standards for rail travel it is acting as a government entity.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

Kansas v. Nebraska et. al

Whether Nebraska violated 1943 Congressional agreement and 2003 settlement on the apportionment of waters of the Republican River between Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado and if so, what remedy is required.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Water Rights

Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Assn.

Under the Federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA), a federal agency is not required to engage in notice and comment procedures when amending and existing interpretive rule.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc.

Providing that the elements of issue preclusion are met, if the usage adjudicated by the administrative agency are materially the same as the usage adjudicated by the district court, issue preclusion should apply.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

OMNICARE, INC. v. LABORERS DIST. COUNCIL CONSTR. INDUSTRY PENSION FUND

A statement in connection with a public stock offering is not an untrue statement of fact strictly because it is incorrect, but rather it also needs to be misleading.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Law

Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama

The redistribution of majority-minority voters into fewer districts is unconstitutional when it decreases the overall strength of voters within the state.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Election Law

Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

Under Section VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 a pregnant worker pursuing a claim that an employer is in violation of the Act through disparate treatment can establish a prima facie case, under the analysis in McDonald Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792., by showing she is a member of a protected class, she requested accommodation, the employer did not provide accommodation, and the employer accommodated others “similar in their ability to work.”

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Grady v. North Carolina

The Supreme Court will not examine the issue of whether North Carolina's satellite based monitoring is an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment when the State's appellate courts did not first examine the reasonableness of the search.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Appellate Procedure

Woods v. Donald

A temporary absence by defense counsel is not ineffective assistance of counsel per se under U.S. v. Cronic when it occurs during testimony about co-defendants that defense counsel deems irrelevant to defendant’s theory of the case.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, Inc.

A Medicaid provider does not have a private right of action to sue under the Medicaid Act because the Supremacy Clause does not give the right to do so.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

April 2 summaries

United States v. Kwai Fun Wong

The Federal Tort Claim Act is not jurisdictional and is subject to equitable tolling.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tort Law

Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins

Whether a plaintiff can sustain Article III standing by showing only a violation of a federal statute, or whether the plaintiff must also show concrete harm to sustain Article III standing?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Standing

May 9 summaries

Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank

The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel does not consider denial of debtor repayment plans final orders that warrant appeal.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association

Whether a vacated order that attempted to regulate wholesale prices paid for demand response, on the basis that the order was beyond jurisdiction due to its impermissible effect on retail markets risks confusion in the energy markets and unnecessarily limits the government's regulatory options.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

City and County of San Francisco California et. al v. Sheehan

Officers are entitled to qualified immunity under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because there is no clearly established law addressing the issue of necessity to accommodate for mental illness

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Rights § 1983

Coleman v. Tollefson

The three strikes provision of the forma pauperis statute counts a dismissal that is currently on appeal as a strike.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne

A state law that does not credit taxpayers for income tax paid in other states for income earned out of state is unconstitutional.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tax Law

Gomez v. Campbell-Ewald Co.

Whether a plaintiff's claim under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act is moot when the plaintiff is offered complete relief. Whether derivative sovereign immunity is limited to public works projects.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Law

Harris v. Viegelhan

Under§ 348(f) of the Bankruptcy Code, a debtor who in good faith converts from a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is entitled to a refund of any accumulated wages.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

Henderson v. United States

A court-ordered transfer of a felon’s firearms to a third party is not barred by 18 U.S.C. §922(g) if the court is reasonably sure the third party will not give the felon control over the firearms.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Tibble v. Edison International

A fiduciary's allegedly imprudent decision to retain an investment is considered as an omission or action that triggers the six-year statute of limitations.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Trusts and Estates

June 29 summaries

Davis v. Ayala

Not allowing a criminal defendant’s counsel to be present at an ex parte hearing explaining why potential jurors were excluded is a harmless error.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett

A debtor filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy cannot entirely void a junior mortgage under section 506(d) when the value of the home is less than what is owned on the senior mortgage.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

Elonis v. United States

For a person to be convicted under 18 U.S.C.§875(c), the jury must conclude that the convicted person intended for their communication to be a threat to injure another person.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.

To prevail in a disparate-treatment claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the applicant need only show that his need for an accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer's decision; actual knowledge is not required.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Mellouli v. Lynch

A lawful alien resident may be deported if convicted of a drug-related state crime only where the drug is a federally regulated substance.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Immigration

Taylor v. Barkes

There is no clearly established Eighth Amendment right to adequate suicide prevention methods therefore, qualified immunity is proper.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Rights § 1983

Zivotofsky v. Kerry

The Constitution grants the Executive Branch alone the power to determine national policy on the status or recognition of foreign sovereigns.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Baker Botts L.L.P. v. ASARCO LLC

§330(a)(1) does not permit the court to award attorney’s fees in defending an application for fees.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

Bruce v. Samuels

Whether the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(2), limits the percentage of a prisoners income that can be used to pay court fees to 20% of the prisoners total monthly income, or to 20% of the prisoners income for each case requiring court fee payments?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Post-Conviction Relief

Kerry v. Din

A liberty interest in marriage is not violated by not granting a visa to a foreign living spouse.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Reyes Mata v. Lynch

Federal Circuit Courts have jurisdiction to review a denial of an alien's petition to reopen a removal proceeding by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Immigration

Brumfield v. Cain

If an individual brings up an Atkins claim in regards to their intellectual capacity, and has fulfilled the requirements necessary for a hearing, then they are entitled to present evidence of their intellectual disability to the court.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

McFadden v. United States

Under the Analogue Act, the knowledge requirement is met if the defendant knew the analogue substance was a controlled substance or an analogue, or knew the specific features that made it a controlled substance.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Ohio v. Clark

Introduction of statements by child's teacher regarding an allegation of child abuse do not violate the Confrontation Clause when the primary purpose is not prosecution.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Reed v. Town of Gilbert

A city sign ordinance that is on its face, is a content based restriction on free speech, it unconstitutional under strict scrutiny.

Area(s) of Law:
  • First Amendment

Walker v. Tex. Div., Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc.

Texas's specialty license plate designs constitute government speech.

Area(s) of Law:
  • First Amendment

City of Los Angeles v. Patel, et al

A city's statute that requires hotels to provide to police their guest registries without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Evidence

Horne v. Department of Agriculture

Under the Fifth Amendment, the Government is required to pay just compensation for a taking of both real property and personal property. Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, the Government cannot regulate the market by taking crops from farmers without compensation.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, LLC

A patentee cannot continue to receive royalties after expiation of the patent, however, parties may use alternative arrangements to achieve similar payment deferral outcomes.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States

Whether the VA must choose a veteran owned business or whether the VA is allowed to exercise discretion when selecting a contractor?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Law

Kingsley v. Hendrickson

Under a § 1983 claim, a pretrial detainee must show only that the force used against that detainee was “objectively unreasonable,” not that state actors “recklessly disregarded” detainee safety or “acted with reckless disregard” of constitutional rights.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Rights § 1983

King v. Burwell

Federal tax credits are available to taxpayers who buy insurance on a Federal Exchange.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

Texas Dept. of Housing and Comm. Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.

Disparate-impact claims, showing discriminatory effect without evidence of discriminatory intent, are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Property Law

Johnson v. United States

Imposing an increased sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act's residual clause violates due process.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Obergefell v. Hodges

Same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry in every state.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Et Al.

An independent commission adopted by the voters of a state to redistrict maps for congressional and state legislative districts is valid under the Elections Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Election Law

Glossip v. Gross

The use of midazolam as a lethal injection execution drug does not violate the Eighth Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sentencing

Michigan v. EPA

The EPA must consider costs and quantifiable benefits when imposing Clean Air Act regulations on power plants.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Environmental Law

Torres v. Holder

Whether a state offense constitutes an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43) when the state offense is "described in" a specified federal statute.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

July 0 summaries

August 0 summaries

September 0 summaries

October 5 summaries

Maryland v. Kulbicki

When considering an ineffectiveness of counsel claim, counsel’s performance must be assessed against technology or information that was generally accepted at the time of counsel’s performance.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

CPV Maryland, LLC v. PPC EnergyPlus, LLC

Whether an energy plant subsidized by the state of Maryland may be "field preempted" or "conflict preempted" when its higher incentives disrupt the federal energy market's regulatory scheme as governed by the Federal Power Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc.

Whether the Federal Circuit properly applied a rigid two-part analysis to determine enhanced damages for patent infringement?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Hughes v. PPL EnergyPlus, LLC

Whether Maryland violated the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution with their subsidy structure for energy production?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Stryker Co. v. Zimmer Inc.

Whether the Circuit Court erred in applying a stringent two pronged framework for proving willingness for the purposes of showing willful infringement?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

November 1 summary

Mullenix v. Luna

Whether an officer was entitled to qualified immunity when he shot and killed a driver to end a high-speed chase.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Qualified Immunity

December 2 summaries

OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs

When considering whether the commercial activity exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act applies to a lawsuit, the court focuses on the conduct at the core of the lawsuit.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sovereign Immunity

DirecTV, INC. v. Imburgia

The Federal Arbitration Act preempts the California ban on class action arbitration waivers.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Contract Law