United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted Opinions

2012

January 4 summaries

Florida v. Jardines

Whether a trained narcotics detection dog's sniff at a suspected grow house's front door is a Fourth Amendment search requiring probable cause.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Johnson v. Williams

(1)Whether a habeas petitioner's claim has been “adjudicated on the merits” for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); and (2) whether, under § 2254, a federal habeas court (a) may grant relief on the ground that the petitioner had a Sixth Amendment right to retain a biased juror on the panel and (b) may reject a state court’s finding of juror bias because it disagrees with the finding and the reasons stated for it, even where the finding was rationally supported by evidence in the state-court record.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Kloeckner v. Solis

Whether the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has sole subject matter jurisdiction over an appeal from a ruling by the Merit Systems Protection Board when the case includes both discrimination and unlawful termination claims.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

United States v. Bormes

Whether the Little Tucker Act (LTA), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(2), waives sovereign immunity of the United States with respect to damages actions for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sovereign Immunity

February 5 summaries

Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp.

Whether donning and doffing safety clothing falls within the meaning of “changing clothes” in Section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Fisher v. University of Texas

Whether including race as a factor in determining undergraduate admissions was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Lozman v. The City of Riviera Beach, Florida

Whether a floating structure that is indefinitely moored, receives power and other utilities from shore, and is not intended to be used in maritime transportation or commerce, constitutes a “vessel” under 1 U.S.C. § 3, thus triggering federal maritime jurisdiction.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Admiralty

Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan

(Whether an award of costs for interpretation includes costs for translation of documents.)

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.

(1) Whether the question of corporate civil tort liability under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”), 28 U.S.C. §1350, is a question of merits or one of subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) whether, like any other private party, a corporation may be held liable under the ATS for committing a tort, such as torture or genocide, in violation of the law of nations, or whether it is immune from liability.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Corporations

March 3 summaries

Ryan v. Gonzalez

Whether an indigent death row inmate is entitled to stay the federal habeas proceedings he initiated if he is not competent to assist counsel.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Tibbals v. Carter

Whether a prisoner who has been sentenced to death has a "right to competence" and if so whether a federal court may stay habeas proceedings indefinitely.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Florida v. Harris

Whether an alert by a narcotics detection dog is sufficient to establish probable cause to search a vehicle.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

April 4 summaries

Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. United States

Whether a physical invasion must be permanent in order to constitute a taking under the Fifth Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Moncrieffe v. Holder

Whether the government bears the burden of proving a defendant was convicted of a drug trafficking charge that would constitute a federal felony in order to justify removal as an aggravated felon under 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Immigration

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Whether the Copyright Act's "first sale doctrine" freely permits resale of foreign works legally purchased overseas and imported into the United States as the Third Circuit has held, or if such works can only be resold after the copyright holder explicitly approves the sale as the Second Circuit has held, or if they can only be resold after the copyright holder approves an earlier sale as the Ninth Circuit has held.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Copyright

Chaidez v. United States

Whether the rule announced in Padilla v. Kentucky—that an attorney provides ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment by failing to inform a criminal defendant that a guilty plea carries a risk of deportation—applies retroactively to persons whose convictions were already final.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

May 2 summaries

Clapper v. Amnesty Int'l USA

Whether a belief that legislation might result in future injury coupled with the funds expended in an effort to prevent that future injury is sufficient to meet the injury in fact requirement for Article III standing.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Standing

Marx v. General Revenue Corp.

Whether (1) a facsimile from a debt collection agency to a third party regarding a consumer's employment information constitutes a communication and is therefore in violation of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and (2) the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permitting award of costs to a prevailing party is superseded by the cost provision of the FDCPA.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

June 15 summaries

Bailey v. United States

Whether Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981) allows police officers executing a search warrant to detain an individual who left the premises before the warrant was executed.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Amgen Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds

Whether a court must require proof of materiality or allow evidence rebutting the applicability of the fraud-on-the-market theory before certifying a class based on that theory.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Evans v. Michigan

Whether an erroneously granted directed verdict, based on the prosecution’s failure to prove a non-existent element of the crime is an acquittal subject to the double-jeopardy provisions of the United States and state constitutions.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Smith v. United States

Whether the defendant bears the burden of proving withdrawal from a conspiracy or whether the burden shifts to the government once the defendant meets the burden of production to show withdrawal from the conspiracy.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Already, LLC v. Nike, Inc.

Whether a covenant not to sue deprives a defendant of a counterclaim due to loss of Article III subject matter jurisdiction since there is no case or controversy for the court to rule on.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock

A state ban on independent political expenditures from corporate general treasuries unduly burdens First Amendment rights.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Comcast Corp. v. Behrend

Whether district courts may certify class actions without first resolving whether the class has introduced admissible evidence—including expert testimony—to establish the case is susceptible to an award of damages on a class-wide basis in satisfaction of the predominance requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23.

FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health System, Inc.

(1) Whether the Georgia legislature “clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed [a] state policy to displace competition” when it vested powers to acquire and lease hospitals; if so (2) whether such policy is sufficient to validate anticompetitive conduct given minimal state involvement with a leased hospital.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Corporations

Genesis HealthCare Corp. v. Symczyk

Whether Article III’s Case or Controversy Clause moots an action when the plaintiff receives an offer that satisfies all of plaintiff's claims.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Georgia-Pacific West, Inc. v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center & Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center

Whether the Ninth Circuit erred when it rejected the EPA’s position that runoff from forest roads does not require a permit and mandated that the EPA regulate such runoff as industrial stormwater subject to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Environmental Law

Henderson v. United States

Whether an error can be "plain error” under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 52(b), when a law that was previously unsettled becomes settled during subsequent appeal.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council

Whether water that flows from one point in a navigable waterway, through a man-made channel, and back into the same river, can be considered a "discharge" from an "outfall" under the Clean Water Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Environmental Law

Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center

Whether the 180-day statutory time limit for filing an appeal with the Provider Reimbursement Review Board from a final Medicare payment determination made by the PRRB is subject to equitable tolling.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

US Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen

Whether § 502(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) authorizes courts to use equitable principles to rewrite contractual language and refuse to order participants to reimburse their plan for benefits paid even when the plan’s terms give it an absolute right to full reimbursement.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Vance v. Ball State University

Whether "supervisor" liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to harassment by individuals the employer has vested with authority to direct and oversee alleged victims’ work, or is limited to individuals who are empowered to “hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline” the alleged victim.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

September 9 summaries

Chafin v. Chafin

Whether an appeal of a ruling on a petition for Return of Children under the Hague Convention becomes moot when the child at issue returns to his or her own country of habitual residence.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Standing

The Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles

Whether a class action plaintiff's stipulation limiting damages to below the federal amount in controversy threshold, made to defeat defendant's right of removal under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, is binding on absent class members.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Descamps v. United States

Whether a state conviction under a modified statute that is missing an element of the generic crime may be used to enhance sentencing under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sentencing

Delia v. E.M.A.

Whether the Medicaid Act’s anti-lien provision preempts a North Carolina statute allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to place liens on settlement proceeds.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

Gabelli v. Securities and Exchange Commission

Whether the five-year limitations period under 28 U.S.C. § 2462 is calculated from the date of the underlying infraction or from when the government actually—or should have—discovered the fraud when there are no additional legislative controlling provisions.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Levin v. United States

Whether the United States and individual military personnel acting within the scope of their employment can be sued for the common law tort of battery.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tort Law

Maracich v. Spears

Whether lawyers may use personal information protected by the Driver's Privacy Protection Act to investigate and solicit potential clients for a class action litigation or whether such use falls outside the permissible scope of the litigation exception.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Professional Responsibility

Millbrook v. United States

Whether 28 U.S.C. §§1346(b) and 2680(h) waive the sovereign immunity of the United States for intentional torts committed by prison guards who are acting within the scope of their employment but are not exercising authority to "execute searches, to seize evidence or to make arrests for violations of Federal law."

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tort Law

Missouri v. McNeely

Whether evidence obtained by a nonconsensual and warrantless blood sample from a drunk driver is admissible under the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement based upon the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

October 12 summaries

Alleyne v. United States

Whether Harris v. United States, which held that the Constitution does not require facts which increase a mandatory minimum sentence to be determined by a jury, should be overruled.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sentencing

Bowman v. Monsanto

Whether patents on seeds containing self-replicating technology are exhausted after an authorized sale.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Boyer v. Louisiana

Whether a five-year delay due to a state funding crisis for indigent defendants counts against the state for speedy trial purposes.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Cable, Telecommunications, and Technology Committee v. FCC

Whether a Chevron analysis is appropriate for reviewing an administrative agency's interpretation of its own jurisdiction.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

Gunn v. Minton

Whether federal courts possess exclusive subject-matter jurisdiction over state-based legal malpractice claims that require application of federal patent law.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Mgmt.

Whether an "exactions taking" occurs under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution when the government actor does not compel dedication of any interest in the real property to the public use, and when the alleged exaction consists of imposition of a monetary obligation as a condition of permit issuance but the permit is never issued.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Property Law

McBurney v. Young

Whether the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, which limits the right of access to public documents to Virginia citizens, violates the Constitution's Privileges and Immunities and dormant commerce clauses.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council

(1) Whether the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit erred when it applied a heightened preemption test under the Elections Clause instead of applying the more traditional preemption analysis under the Supremacy Clause; and (2) whether the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit erred in holding that the National Voter Registration Act preempted an Arizona law requiring proof of eligibility to register to vote.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

Bullock v. BankChampaign

Whether §523(a)(4) of the Bankruptcy Code requires a showing of “extreme recklessness” or merely “objective recklessness” to constitute defalcation.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

McQuiggin v. Perkins

Whether a prisoner claiming actual innocence when petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus must do so with "reasonable diligence."

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

PPL Corp. v. CIR

Whether courts should apply a formalistic or substance-based approach when determining the creditability of foreign tax credits.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tax Law

Trevino v. Thaler

Whether a state court procedural defect acts to bar a federal habeas court from hearing a substantial claim of ineffective assistance at trial.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

November 8 summaries

American Exp. Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant

Whether the Federal Arbitration Act allows a court to invalidate an arbitration agreement which prohibits class arbitration of a federal statutory claim.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Arbitration

Maryland v. King

Whether the Fourth Amendment allows states to collect and analyze DNA from persons arrested for violent crimes who have been charged but not convicted.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Peugh v. United States

Whether a court violates the Constitution's ex post facto clause by retroactively applying current sentencing guidelines to past crimes when the result is a harsher sentence.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sentencing

Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder

"Whether Congress' decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution."

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Horne v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Whether a party may bring a Fifth Amendment Just Compensation Clause challenge in district court prior to exhausting the statutorily prescribed process for obtaining just compensation through the Court of Federal Claims.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Sebelius v. Cloer

Whether a person who untimely files a claim under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is eligible for an award of attorneys’ fees when the claim was brought in good faith and with a reasonable basis.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Attorney Fees

Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.

Whether human genes are patentable.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Bartlett

Whether federal law preempts state law design-defect claims against generic drug manufacturers.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

December 5 summaries

Dan's City Used Cars, Inc. v. Pelkey

Whether the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act preempts state law on the manner by which a towing company can collect debts secured by a lien.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

Hollingsworth v. Perry

Whether it is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment for a state to use the ballot initiative process to ban marriage between same-sex couples.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Oxford Health Plans, LLC v. Sutter

Whether an arbitrator acts within his powers under the Federal Arbitration Act or exceeds those powers when allowing class arbitration based solely on parties’ use of broad contractual language in an arbitration agreement.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Arbitration

United States v. Windsor

Whether section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Fifth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by defining marriage as "only a legal union between one man and one woman."

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

FTC v. Watson Pharmaceuticals

Whether reverse-payment agreements between brand-name and generic drug manufacturers are per se lawful or presumptively anticompetative and unlawful.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents