United States Supreme Court

Opinions Filed in 2017

January 2 summaries

White v. Pauly

Whether an officer, who arrives late to an ongoing police action and, after having witnessed shots being fired at fellow officers, shoots and kills the armed assailant without first issuing a warning violates the fourth amendment thereby disqualifying him from immunity from liability?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Lightfoot v. Cendant Mortgage Corp.

12 U. S. C. §1723a(a)’s sued-and-be-sued clause does not establish federal subject matter jurisdiction over all cases involving Fannie Mae.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

February 3 summaries

Buck v. Davis

Testimony from an expert witness regarding propensity for violence based on race meets the Strickland test for ineffective assistance of counsel and the related Rule 60(b)(6) Motion should have been granted as such testimony is not de minimis.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools

The exhaustion clause of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) only applies if the gravamen of the plaintiff’s complaint seeks relief under the IDEA.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Disability Law

Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp.

A single component is insufficient to constitute a substantial proportion of the components for the purposes of liability under § 271(f)(1) because the phrase holds a quantitative, not qualitative meaning.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

March 12 summaries

Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Bd. of Elections

The District Court erred by applying an incorrect legal standard to find that race was not predominate in the Virginia Legislature’s redrawing of 11 of 12 legislative districts, but the District Court’s analysis of District 75 was consistent with the narrowly tailoring analysis set forth in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Election Law

Beckles v. U.S.

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are not subject to vagueness challenges under the Due Process Clause because they only guide the exercise of a court's discretion.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sentencing

Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado

If a juror makes a statement that exhibits overt racial bias and casts serious doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the jury’s deliberations, then the no-impeachment rule must give way to allow the trial court to consider the evidence of the juror’s statement.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Evidence

Rippo v. Baker

In disqualification proceedings, the court must determine whether, objectively speaking, the risk of bias is too high to be constitutionally tolerable.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Manuel v. City of Joliet, Illinois, et al.

Unlawful pretrial detention may be challenged on Fourth Amendment grounds, and not solely on the Due Process Clause.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

NLRB v. SW General, Inc.

Subject to a narrow exception, subsection(b)(1) of §3345 of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act prohibits any person who has been nominated by the President to fill a vacant office from executing the duties of the office in an acting capacity, regardless of whether the acting officer was appointed under subsection (a)(1), (a)(2), or (a)(3).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC

Laches is not an available defense to patent infringement claims for damages incurred during the statute of limitation period set forth in § 286 of the Patent Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp.

When distributing an estate’s assets under a structured dismissal of the Bankruptcy Code Chapter 11, the bankruptcy court cannot deviate from basic priority rules that apply under the Code without consent of the affected creditors.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Re-1

For a school to meet its substantive obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, it must offer an Individualized Education Program that is "reasonably calculated to enable a child [with a qualifying disability] to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances."

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Law

Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc.

The designs on cheerleading uniforms are separable and protectable under copyright law.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Copyright

Moore v. Texas

When evaluating an individual’s intellectual capacity to enforce the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of the execution of intellectually disabled individuals, a State must look to the medical community’s diagnostic framework.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman

A ban on the imposition of a surcharge by merchants for the use of a credit card in which the ban regulates how a merchant may advertise a surcharge is a regulation of speech under the First Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

April 7 summaries

Dean v. United States

Sentencing courts may consider the mandatory minimum sentences imposed by § 924(c) when determining the proper sentence for the predicate offense.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sentencing

McLane Co. v. EEOC

A court of appeals should review a district court’s decision to enforce or quash an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission subpoena for an abuse of discretion.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Coventry Health Care Of Mo., Inc. v. Nevils

The preemption clause of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (“FEHBA”) is valid under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and it overrides state laws that prohibit FEHBA subrogation and reimbursement requirements.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haegar

The power of a federal district court to sanction a litigant by ordering payment of the other side’s attorney’s fees for bad-faith conduct is limited to those fees the innocent party incurred as a result of the misconduct.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Attorney Fees

Manrique v. United States

When a defendant seeks appellate review of an order imposing restitution in a deferred restitution case, the defendant must file a notice of appeal from that order.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Remedies

Nelson v. Colorado

Only “minimal procedures” can be placed on persons attempting to recover costs, fees, and restitution that were ordered in criminal convictions for which the persons were subsequently exonerated, as a matter of Due Process.

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

Lewis v. Clarke

Tribal sovereign immunity does not extend to all Tribal employees to bar claims of wrongful conduct allegedly committed within the scope of their employment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sovereign Immunity

May 12 summaries

Bank of America Corp. v. Miami

Under the FHA § 3602(i), a City constitutes an “aggrieved person” and may bring suit under that section. Further in an action under the FHA, a plaintiff must prove a direct relation in order to show “proximate cause,” which requires more than mere foreseeability.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tort Law

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, et al., v. Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co., et al.

Any claim brought forward under the expropriation exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA) now requires a heightened argument standard when attempting to establish ownership rights.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sovereign Immunity

Howell v. Howell

§1408(a)(4)(B) preempts a state court from indemnifying a veteran’s former spouse for their lost portion of retirement that was awarded in a divorce proceeding and which was subsequently waived for the veteran to receive disability benefits under the statute.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

Kindred Nursing Centers, L. P. v. Clark

The Kentucky Supreme Court’s clear-statement rule that a power of attorney does not allow a representative to enter into an arbitration agreement without expressly providing that the representative may do so violates the Federal Arbitration Agreement.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Arbitration

Midland Funding, LLC v. Johnson

A “proof of claim” filed by a creditor in a bankruptcy proceeding that is determined to be unenforceable pursuant to a statute of limitations is not “false,” “deceptive,” “misleading,” “unconscionable,” or “unfair” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U. S. C. §1692k.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Remedies

Cooper v. Harris

Under the Fourteenth Amendment, the State lacks a compelling reason for redrawing its congressional districts making those peoples of voting age predominantly black and violates the Equal Protection Clause even if it claims compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC

The residence of a domestic corporation under the patent infringement venue statute, 28 U. S. C. §1400(b), is the state in which the entity is incorporated.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Water Splash, Inc. v. Menon

The Hague Service Convention allows for service of process by mail.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell

§56 of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act does not confer to the States the power to exercise personal jurisdiction over nonresident corporations that are not “at home” in the putative forum state.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

County of Los Angeles v. Mendez

Under the Fourth Amendment, there exists no “provocation rule” where a law enforcement officer may also be held liable for injuries caused by their reasonable force during an unreasonable “seizure” as a separate constitutional violation.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, Attorney General

For statutory rape offenses that criminalize sexual intercourse based solely on the age of the participants, the generic federal definition of “sexual abuse of a minor” requires the age of the victim to be less than 16 years.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc.

If a patent holder sells its patented item, then it has exhausted its patent rights as it relates to that item, whether or not the terms of the sale of the item placed restrictions on the item’s use after the sale.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

June 19 summaries

Advocate Health Care Network, et al. v. Stapleton, et al.

A pension plan maintained by a principal-purpose organization qualifies as a “church plan,” regardless of who established it, and is exempt from ERISA’s requirements.

Area(s) of Law:
  • ERISA

Honeycutt v. United States

Under 21 U.S.C. §853, “a defendant may not be held jointly and severally liable for property that his co-conspirator derived from a crime but that the defendant did not himself acquire.”

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Kokesh v. SEC

The 5-year statute of limitations, under 28 U. S. C. §2462, applies to securities-enforcement disgorgement claims.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Remedies

North Carolina v. Covington

In evaluating racial gerrymandering determinations in the context of special elections, courts must apply a particularized analysis that takes into account the "balance of equities."

Area(s) of Law:
  • Election Law

Town of Chester, New York, Petitioner v. Laroe Estates, Inc.

Intervenors must have Article III standing to pursue relief under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Standing

Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc.

A debt purchaser is not a “debt collector” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Consumer Credit

Microsoft v. Baker

A voluntary dismissal of a putative class action lawsuit in which the parties have stipulated to renew the claim if an appellate court reverses the denial of class certification is not a final judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc.

Under 42 U. S. C. §262(l), an applicant for FDA approval of a biosimilar cannot be enjoined for failing to provide manufacturing information of the biosimilar, although it may under state law; and, the applicant may give the sponsor of the biosimilar notice of its application before or after receiving its FDA license.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Virginia v. Leblanc

Under 28 U. S. C. §2254(d)(1), the standard for a federal court to review the constitutionality of a state court’s decision vis-a-vis a petition for writ of habeas corpus does not permit the federal court to disturb the state court’s decision unless the state court unreasonably applied federal law and there is “no fairminded disagreement” regarding how it acted unreasonably.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Cal., San Francisco Cty.

California courts lack specific jurisdiction over nonresidents’ claims when there is an insufficient connection between the forum and the claims.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Jenkins v. Hutton

The Sixth Circuit was incorrect in holding that it could review Respondent’s claim, that the trial court violated his due process rights during the penalty phase of his trial, under the miscarriage of justice exception to procedural default.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Matal v. Tam

The disparagement clause of 15 U. S. C. §1052(a), which forbids the registration of trademarks containing possible “disparage . . . or bring . . . into contemp[t] or disrepute” to any “persons,” is viewpoint regulation of private speech that fails First Amendment scrutiny.

Area(s) of Law:
  • First Amendment

McWilliams v. Dunn

Under Ake v. Oklahoma, a state is required to provide more than an expert mental health evaluation to assist with an indigent defendant’s insanity defense during the death penalty phase; it must also provide the defendant with access to an independent mental health expert to aid with the preparation and the presentation of the defendant's death penalty phase defense.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Packingham v. North Carolina

Under the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, North Carolina’s law making it a felony for a registered sex offender to access commonplace social media websites is unconstitutionally invalid because it suppresses lawful speech as a mean to suppress unlawful speech.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Zigler v. Abbasi

Under the Bivens decision, a federal official cannot be sued for damages as to detention policy claims. Further, under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), a federal official is entitled to qualified immunity if a reasonable official in the same situation would not know their conduct constituted an unlawful conspiracy.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Qualified Immunity

Maslenjak v. U.S.

To convict under 18 U. S. C. §1425(a), the finder of fact must determine that the defendant committed an illegal act to influence his application for citizenship, the illegal act was a legal basis to disqualify the defendant’s admission, and the defendant did not prove they were qualified for citizenship.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Lee v. U.S.

Under the Sixth Amendment, an undocumented criminal defendant, who pleaded guilty to a deportable offense due to ineffective assistance of counsel, meets the prejudice prong of Strickland v. Washington if there is sufficient evidence to establish a “reasonable probability” that the defendant would have proceeded to trial but for the erroneous legal advice.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Murr v. Wisconsin

Under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, common ownership of two adjacent lots may be considered as a single property for the purposes of the categorical takings analysis of Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U. S. 1003, 1014 (1992) and the regulatory takings inquiry of Penn Central Transp. Co. v. New York City, 438 U. S. 104, 124 (1978).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Perry v. Merit Systems Protection Board

When the Merit Systems Protection Board, created under the Civil Service Reform Act, dismisses a mixed case on jurisdictional grounds, the proper forum for review is federal district court.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Appellate Procedure

July 0 summaries

August 0 summaries

September 0 summaries

October 1 summary

Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project

Pursuant to the Court's "established practice," the September 2017 expiration of the ninety-day term for the President's travel ban—of foreign nationals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering into the U.S.—leaves Respondents' Establishment Clause challenge moot.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Immigration

November 3 summaries

Dunn v. Madison

A person who merely understands why they are being punished is competent to be executed although they do not remember the crime they committed.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Kernan v. Cuero

There is no precedent that mandates specific performance for a criminal defendant who, after the State filed an amended complaint that required a higher mandatory minimum sentence than the initial complaint, pleads guilty to the amended complaint and is sentenced to serve a longer mandatory minimum.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services Of Chicago

The 30-day deadline for extensions to file notices of appeal under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5)(C) is a court-made rule and is, therefore, a claim-processing rule subject to waiver and forfeiture if the appellee does not raise it.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Appellate Procedure