United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted Opinions

2014

January 11 summaries

American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc.

Whether a company “publicly performs” a copyrighted television program when it retransmits a broadcast of that program to paid subscribers over the Internet.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Copyright

CTS Corporation v. Waldburger

Whether the preemption provision of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. § 9658, applies to state statutes of repose as well as the state statutes of limitations.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

Limelight Networks, Inc. V Akamai Technologies, Inc.

Whether 35 U.S.C. §271(b) allows a defendant to be held liable for patent infringement when no one committed a direct infringement.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Nautilus Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc.

Whether a claim violates the statutory requirements for "particular and distinct patent claiming" when the Federal Circuit accepts ambiguous patent claims that have multiple reasonable interpretations, provided that the ambiguity is not “insoluble.”

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Pom Wonderful LLC V. Coca-Cola Company

Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that a private party cannot bring a Lanham Act claim challenging a product label regulated under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Standing

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus

(1) Whether, to challenge a speech-suppressive law, a party must prove that authorities would certainly and successfully prosecute or should the court presume that a credible threat of prosecution exists; and (2) whether the state laws proscribing “false” political speech are subject to pre-enforcement First Amendment review.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

The Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital, Ltd.

Whether post-judgment discovery, when enforcing a judgment against a foreign state, can be ordered against assets held outside of the United State or is limited to assets that are executable under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sovereign Immunity

United States v. Clarke

Whether an unsupported allegation that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a summons for an improper purpose entitles the summoned party to an evidentiary hearing to question IRS officials about their basis for issuing the summons.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tax Law

Lane v. Franks

(1) Whether the government, under the First Amendment, may retaliate against a public employee for giving testimony which was not a part of the employee’s ordinary job responsibilities; and (2) whether damages are precluded in a qualified immunity claim.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Riley, David L. v. California

Whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits the warrantless search of cell phones.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

United States v. Wurie

Whether the Fourth Amendment permits the warrantless search of an arrestee's cell phone.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

February 0 summaries

March 8 summaries

Holt v. Hobbs

Whether regulation of beard length by the Department of Corrections violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) or the First Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, et al.

Whether the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947 prohibits employees from receiving compensation for time spent in security screenings under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Labor Law

North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission

Whether a state regulatory board may be treated as a private entity because the board is elected by market participants.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund

Whether a claim under §11 of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. §77k, must allege that a statement was subjectively or objectively false.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

WARGER, GREGORY P. V. SHAUERS, RANDY D.

Whether Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) permits the use of statements made during jury deliberations to prove a juror lied during voir dire.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Evidence

Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi v. IndyMac MBS, Inc.

Whether the filing of a putative class action serves, under American Pipe & Construction Co. v. Utah, to satisfy the three year time limitation in § 13 of the Securities Act with respect to the claims of putative class members.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Jennings v. Stephens

Whether a habeas petitioner who prevails on an ineffective assistance of counsel of claim can raise assertions of deficient performance that were rejected by the trial court against the state's appeal if the petitioner has not filed a separate notice of appeal and certificate of appealability.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

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

Whether the Federal Circuit erred in reviewing district court factual findings of construction of patent claims de novo and Rule 52(a) standard of review accepting findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous applies to construction of patent claims.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

April 6 summaries

Dart Cherokee Basin, et al. v. Owens, Brandon W.

Whether a party seeking removal from state court to federal court is required to provide evidence of federal jurisdiction in the notice of removal?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Standing

Heien v. North Carolina

Whether an officer's mistaken understanding of a statute can create the reasonable suspicion needed to justify a traffic stop.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Johnson v. United States

Whether possession of a shotgun is a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Zivotofsky v. Kerry

Whether a federal statute directing the Secretary of State to list the birthplace of American citizens born in Jerusalem as Israel on the Consular Report of Birth Abroad and on the U.S. passport is unconstitutional because the statute "impermissibly infringes on the President's exercise of the recognition power reposing exclusively in him."

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.

Whether notification within three years is sufficient to invoke the statutory right to rescind on a transaction under the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. 1635(a), or whether a lawsuit must be filed within three years instead.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Contract Law

Yates v. United States

Whether 18 U.S.C. § 1519 makes it an offense to destroy any tangible objects with the intent to impede an investigation or administrative matter, or whether the statute is limited to tangible objects related to records or documents.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Evidence

May 4 summaries

M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett

Whether under the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), courts should presume that silence as to the duration of retiree’s health-care benefits in collective bargaining agreements means the parties to the agreement intended those benefits to vest; or courts should require a statement that clearly states that the health care benefits survive the end of the agreement; or should there be at least some statement in the bargaining agreement that could support a ruling that the health care benefits should continue for life.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

T-Mobile South, LLC v. City of Roswell

Whether, according to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a government may deny a telecommunication company's request "in writing" by sending a statement that contains no written explanation of its reasoning, or if there must be a written record for its reasoning and a written statement for the denial to qualify as being "in writing."

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean

Whether Congress intended the Whistleblower Protection Act to bar penalties when a government employee unilaterally exposes sensitive security information.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Qualified Immunity

Comptroller v. Wynne

Whether the Constitution of the United States requires states to provide an income tax credit for income tax paid to other states

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tax Law

June 11 summaries

Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama; Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama

1. Whether a state enacted redistricting plan violates one person, one vote if the plan results in large deviations for local legislative appointments that have governing power over counties. 2. Whether the legislative redistricting plans unconstitutionally classify African American voters by race because the plans intentionally draw district lines to preserve “the supermajority percentages produced when 2010 census data are applied to the 2001 majority-black districts.”

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association; Nickols v. Mortgage Bankers Association

Whether agencies must submit significant changes to a definitive agency interpretation to the public under the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

US v. Elonis

Whether, consistent with the First Amendment and Virginia v. Black, conviction of threatening another person requires proof of the Petitioner’s subjective intent to threaten or whether it is enough to show that a “reasonable person” would regard the statement as threatening.

Area(s) of Law:
  • First Amendment

Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads

Whether Amtrak is a private entity for purposes of determining whether Congress may delegate legislative authority to Amtrak, jointly with the Federal Railroad Administration, to create rules used in Surface Transportation Board adjudications.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank, et

Whether trademark priority under the tacking doctrine should be considered a matter of fact or a matter of law.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Trademarks

Whitfield v. United States

Whether "forced accompaniment" during a bank robbery must be substantial in order to trigger the increased penalty under 18 U.S.C. § 2113(e).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Gelboim v. Bank of America Corp.

Whether a final order renders a suit immediately appealable when that suit has been consolidated with other suits that have not concluded.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Mach Mining, LLC v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Whether, and to what extent, a court may enforce the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's mandatory duty to conciliate discrimination claims before filing suit.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Mellouli v. Holder

Whether a drug paraphernalia conviction "relates to" a controlled substance within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. §1227(a)(2)(B)(i).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Immigration

United States v. June

Whether equitable tolling of the Federal Tort Claims Act’s two-year time limit for administration claims with the appropriate agency is permitted.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

United States v. Wong

Whether 28 U.S.C. § 2401(b) of the Federal Tort Claims Act is a “jurisdictional” statute and entitled to presumptions of equitable tolling.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tort Law

July 8 summaries

Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation Inc.

Whether a state commits discrimination when it requires industrial and commercial businesses, including rail carriers, to pay sales-and-use-tax, but exempts rail carriers’ competitors from the tax, and whether other aspects of the state’s taxation should be considered in addition to the tax provision challenged.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tax Law

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

Whether the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's findings preclude the relitigation of those same issues in subsequent litigation.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl

Whether the Tax Injunction Act precludes federal court jurisdiction over issues dealing with "secondary aspects of state tax administration."

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tax Law

Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter

Whether 18 U.S.C. § 3287 applies to claims brought by private relators, and also leads to indefinite tolling; and whether the “first-to-file” bar in the False Claims Act is essentially a “one-case-at-a-time” rule.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Oneok, Inc. v. Learjet, Inc.

Whether the Natural Gas Act, which defines Federal Energy Regulation Commission (“FERC”) jurisdiction over natural gas, preempts state antitrust claims arising from transactions beyond FERC jurisdiction.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

Reed v. Gilbert

Whether a town's sign code, limiting the amount of time when a sign may be posted, violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when the sign is used to announce religious services.

Area(s) of Law:
  • First Amendment

Wellness International Network, Ltd. v. Sharif

Whether a bankruptcy court has constitutional authority to enter a final order in a federal 11 U.S.C. § 541 action when there is also a state property law issue present because the action does not “stem from the bankruptcy itself,” and whether conduct of a party is enough to satisfy implied consent for purposes of Article III judicial power.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

Whether, and in what circumstances, an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations must provide similar accommodations to pregnant employees who are "similar in their ability or inability to work."

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

August 0 summaries

September 0 summaries

October 14 summaries

Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

1) Can a state use a commission to create congressional districts without running afoul of the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution and 2 U.S.C. §2a(c)? 2) Does a state legislature have standing to bring this type of suit?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Election Law

Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, Inc.

Whether Medicaid providers have a right to enforce 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(30)(A) under the Supremacy Clause where Congress did not give that right.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Baker Botts, L.L.P. v. ASARCO, L.L.C.

Whether Bankruptcy Code §330(a) allows judges discretion in awarding attorneys compensation in litigation dealing with a fee application.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

Coleman-Bey v. Tollefson

Whether a dismissal that is not final, either due pending appellate review or because the time period to appeal has not run, is counted when determining if 28 U.S.C. § 1915(g) applies to bar civil actions or appeals by prisoners who have already had three or more civil actions or appeals dismissed.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.

Whether it is a violation of Title VII for refusing to hire an applicant or for terminating an employee based on a religious practice that require accommodations.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Kerry v. Din

Whether the spouse of a non-citizen has a protected liberty interest in the denial of a visa to the non-citizen and whether a person can challenge the denial or a visa and require the government to list specific reasons for denial.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Immigration

Ohio v. Clark

(1) Whether individuals acting under mandatory reporting statutes become law enforcement agents under the Confrontation Clause; and (2) whether non-emergency hearsay statements from minor children to such individuals are testimonial statements under the Confrontation Clause.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Evidence

Rodriguez v. United States

Whether conducting a canine sniff without reasonable suspicion at the conclusion of a lawful traffic stop is a "de minimis" intrusion on personal liberty and is thus lawful under the Fourth Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.

Whether disparate-impact claims are allowed under the Fair Housing Act

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

Tibble v. Edison International

Whether the statute of limitations immunizes ERISA plan fiduciaries from retaining imprudent investments when the investments were first included in the plan more than six years ago, and whether Firestone deference applies in fiduciary breach actions when a fiduciary violates the terms of a governing plan document.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar

Whether a rule of judicial conduct that prohibits judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign funds violates the First Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

City of Los Angeles v. Patel

Whether statutes or ordinances authorizing warrantless searches of hotel registries violate the Fourth Amendment, and whether a hotel has an expectation of privacy in their guest registry under the Fourth Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Davis v. Ayala

Whether a federal constitutional error occurred as the result of excluding Petitioner from ex parte Batson proceedings and if the error was harmless, and whether the court correctly applied the Brecht v. Abrahamson standard.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Henderson v. United States

Whether federal prohibition of felons possessing firearms under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) completely terminates an individual’s firearm ownership right when that individual is convicted of felony.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Property Law

November 5 summaries

Chen v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, Maryland

Whether, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m), a district court has discretion to extend the time for service of process absent a showing of good cause.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

King v. Burwell

Whether the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) creates rule-making authority permitting the IRS to grant tax credit subsidies to taxpayers who have purchased health insurance plans through health insurance exchanges established by either states or the federal government.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett; consolidated with Bank of America, N.A. v. Toledo-Cardona

Whether under 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code, can a Chapter 7 debtor “strip off” in the entirety, a junior mortgage’s lien if the outstanding debt that is owed to a senior lien-holder is more than the current value of the collateral?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan

(1) Whether police officers must make "reasonable accommodations" under the American with Disabilities Act when they are making an arrest of violent armed individual; and (2) whether entry into a residence, even though there is a clear exception to the warrant requirement can still be unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Disability Law

Michigan v. EPA; consolidated with Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA; National Mining Association v. EPA

Whether it was unreasonable for the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") refused to consider costs in deciding if it is "appropriate" to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Environmental Law

December 7 summaries

Brumfield v. Cain

Whether (1) exclusive reliance on findings made during the penalty phase of a trial is an unreasonable determination of facts under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) for making an Atkins analysis; and (2) whether a state's denial of resources for post-trial evidentiary examinations denies a defendant the "opportunity to be heard" and to mount an adequate defense.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc.

Whether it was error for the Federal Circuit to hold that it is a defense to induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. 271(b) that a defendant thought a patent was invalid.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc.

(1) Whether state issued license plates, and the messages on them, are government speech, and thus immune from viewpoint neutrality; and (2) whether Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates were discriminated against on the basis of viewpoint when the state rejected them, even though the confederacy was not portrayed negatively.

Area(s) of Law:
  • First Amendment

Bullard v. Hyde Park Savings Bank

Whether a bankruptcy court's denial of a reorganization plan is a final order that may be appealed.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

Harris v. Viegelahn

Whether undistributed funds held by a Chapter 13 trustee after conversion to Chapter 7 should be returned to the debtor or given to creditors.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises, Inc.

Whether a rule of reason analysis should replace current per se ban on post-expiration patent royalty collection.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Toca v. Louisiana

(1) Whether the rule announced in Miller v. Alabama that states that a mandatory life sentence without parole for those under 18 years of age violates the 8th Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment applies retroactively, and (2) Whether a federal question is raised by a claim that a state court failed to find a Teague exception.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sentencing