United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted Opinions

2015

January 7 summaries

Horne v. Department of Agriculture

(1) Whether the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment applies only to real property and not personal property; (2) whether government may avoid paying just compensation for a physical taking of property by reserving a contingent interest in a portion of the value of the property to the property owner; and (3) whether the California raisin marketing order is a per se taking that requires just compensation.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Kingsley v. Hendrickson

Whether a pretrial detainee's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force claim requires a showing that the force used by the state actor was objectively unreasonable and that the use of force was deliberate.

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

Mata v. Holder

Whether the Fifth Circuit erred in determining that it had no jurisdiction to review a petitioner's request that the Board of Immigration Appeals equitably toll a deadline on his motion to reopen due to ineffective assistance of counsel under 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(c)(2).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Immigration

McFadden v. United States

Whether the government must prove a defendant knew a substance was a controlled substance before convicting the defendant for distribution of a controlled substance.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Obgerfell, et al. v. Hodges, et al.

Whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex, and whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to recognize a same sex marriage when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Glossip v. Gross

Whether Oklahoma's prisoner execution protocols violate the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs

(1) Whether common law agency, the definitions in Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 USC 1602 (FSIA), or the factors set out in First National City Bank v. Banco Para el Comercio Exterior de Cuba should determine when an entity is an “agent” of a foreign state under the commercial-activity exception of FSIA; and (2) whether under the commercial-activity exception of the FSIA, a tort claim in connection with travel outside of the United States arises from allegedly tortuous conduct which occurred outside of the United States; or the from preceding sale of the ticket within the United States.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sovereign Immunity

February 0 summaries

March 9 summaries

Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore

Whether spousal guarantors have standing to bring a claim under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), and whether the Federal Reserve Board can include spousal guarantors as “applicants” to avoid discrimination against married women.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Consumer Credit

Ocasio v. United States

Whether the federal statute forbidding extortion requires a conspiracy to commit extortion to target a victim outside the conspiracy.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Hurst v. Florida

Whether Florida's death sentencing scheme violates the Sixth Amendment or the Eighth Amendment in light of this Court's decision in Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia

Whether California state law forbids agreements that waive customer rights to bring a class action.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Arbitration

Montgomery v. Louisiana

Whether a ban on life sentences without possibility of parole to minors applies retroactively to sentences before the Supreme Court's 2012 landmark decision.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Juvenile Law

Kansas v. Carr, Jonathan

Does the Eighth Amendment require a jury engaged in capital sentencing to be “affirmatively instructed” that mitigating circumstances “need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, or whether jury instructions, in context, that are clear that each individual juror must analyze and give weight to a mitigating circumstance satisfies the Eighth Amendment? Also, whether a trial court’s decision to not sever a sibling co-defendant’s sentencing phase from respondent’s violated the right to “individualized sentencing” under the Eighth Amendment and if severed, was not harmless error?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Kansas v. Gleason

Whether a capital-sentencing jury is required by the Eighth Amendment to be affirmatively instructed, as the Kansas Supreme Court held, that mitigating circumstances need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, or if the Eight Amendment is satisfied by merely providing instructions that make clear that every juror must weigh and assess mitigating circumstances.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sentencing

Kansas v. Reginald Carr

Whether the Eight Amendment requires either severance of co-defendants' cases at sentencing or affirmative instructions to sentencing juries that mitigating circumstances need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sentencing

Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan

Whether in a lawsuit under the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974, a fiduciary can recover an overpayment if the fiduciary did not identify a particular fund for the payment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tort Law

April 3 summaries

Oneok, Inc. v. LearJet, Inc.

The Natural Gas Act does not pre-empt state antitrust laws regulating natural gas rates.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

Rodriguez v. United States

Once a traffic stop is completed, a dog sniff is unreasonable without additional reasonable suspicion.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Green v. Donahoe

Whether, in an employment discrimination claim brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the filing period for a constructive discharge claim begins to run (1) when an employee resigns or (2) at the time of the employer’s act that gave rise to the employee’s resignation.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

May 5 summaries

Commil USA, LLC v, Cisco Systems, Inc.

A good-faith belief as to the validity of a patent cannot be raised as a defense to an induced patent infringement claim.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

Foster v. Humphrey

Whether the Georgia Supreme Court erred in not recognizing racial discrimination in a death penalty claim under the Batson test.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

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

The wartime suspension of limitations act only applies in criminal offenses and not civil suits.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Lockhart v. United States

Whether the federal sentencing enhancement under 18 U.S.C. 2252(b)(2) requires that a prior conviction involve a minor or ward.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Wellness International Network, Limited v. Sharif

Bankruptcy courts have authority to issue final judgments on whether assets are included in a bankruptcy estate if all parties knowingly and voluntarily consent to the adjudication.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

June 11 summaries

Luis v. United States

Whether it is unconstitutional under the 5th and 6th Amendments to restrain a criminal defendant from using assets unrelated to the criminal offense to hire an attorney.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Shapiro v. Mack

Whether a single district judge may decide not to convene a three-judge panel to dismiss a claim challenging the constitutionality of a congressional redistricting plan.

Area(s) of Law:
  • First Amendment

Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, Peg, Et Al.

Whether, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a class action containing non-identical members and non-injured members can be certified.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Dollar General Corp v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw

Whether tribal courts have jurisdiction to hear civil tort claims against non-Indian defendants?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Indian Law

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Whether race can be used as a factor in a university admission process?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance

Whether a state can require insurance companies to file informative data without violating ERISA.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Insurance Law

Michael Musacchio v. United States of America

Whether the law-of-the-case doctrine requires the government to provide more evidence than the statute requires.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

California Franchise Tax Board v. Hyatt

Whether states have immunity when being sued in another state’s court and whether Nevada v. Hall was wrongly decided by not extending sovereign immunity to sister states.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sovereign Immunity

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Whether union agency shop fees are a violation of the First Amendment?

Area(s) of Law:
  • First Amendment

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. United States

Whether a claim under the Indian Self-Determination Act is entitled to equitable tolling.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tribal Law

Merrill Lynch, Et Al. v. Manning, Greg, Et Al.

Whether Section 27 of the Securities Exchange Act provides federal jurisdiction over state law claims based on potential violations of the Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

July 0 summaries

August 0 summaries

September 0 summaries

October 1 summary

Voisine v. United States

Whether a domestic violence misdemeanor conviction, with the mens rea of recklessness, can satisfy the federal law prohibiting firearm possession by those convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic abuse”?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

November 10 summaries

East Texas Baptist Univ. v. Burwell

Whether the process to receive an accommodation under the Affordable Care Act, which allows a non-profit religious organization to not pay for mandated coverage of contraception, relieves the substantial burden under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Geneva College v. Burwell, Zubik v. Burwell,

Whether the process to receive an accommodation under the Affordable Care Act, which allows a non-profit religious organization to not pay for mandated coverage of contraception, relieves the substantial burden under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Husky Int'l Elecs., Inc. v. Ritz

Whether "actual fraud" under the Bankruptcy Code includes instances when the debtor commits a fraudulent-transfer scheme intended to cheat a creditor.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

Little Sisters v. Burwell, Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell

Whether the process to receive an accommodation under the Affordable Care Act, which allows a non-profit religious organization to not pay for mandated coverage of contraception, relieves the substantial burden under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Nichols v. United States

Whether under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act a sex offender who moves to foreign jurisdictions still has to register in the previous domestic jurisdiction.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Priests for Life v. Dept. of Health and Human Servs, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Burwell

Whether the process to receive an accommodation under the Affordable Care Act, which allows a non-profit religious organization to not pay for mandated coverage of contraception, relieves the substantial burden under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Roman Catholic Archbishop v. Burwell

Whether a religious non profit organization can be deemed exempt from the ACA regulatory requirement to provide contraceptives in their healthcare programs.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Simmons v. Himmelreich

Whether the court erred in ruling the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) judgment bar under 28 U.S.C. 2676 prevents a lawsuit against federal officials because the very same issue was involved in an earlier lawsuit.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tort Law

Geneva College v. Burwell

Whether the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate burdens religious exercise of nonprofit organizations.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole

Whether state laws with the purpose of promoting health, but with the effect of reducing the availability of abortion services, place an undue burden on women seeking an abortion and are therefore unconstitutional?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

December 11 summaries

Acosta-Febo v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust

Whether the Puerto Rico Public Corporation Debt Enforcement Recovery Act is preempted by 11 U.S.C. §903(1)?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

Betterman v. Montana

Whether sentencing is part of the trial for the purpose of the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

CRST Van Expedited, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Whether the dismissal of a lawsuit, due to failure of the party to comply with pre-suit requirements, can form the basis of an award for attorney’s fees?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Attorney Fees

Universal Health Services v. U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Whether the “implied certification” theory is viable under the False Claims Act and, if viable, whether a government contractor’s reimbursement claim is “false” under this theory, and whether falsity requires express statements of payment?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Contract Law

Bernard v. Minnesota

Whether, without a warrant, a State can make an individual’s refusal to take a chemical test to check for intoxicants a criminal offense?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Beylund v. Levi

Whether, without a warrant, a State can make an individual’s refusal to take a chemical test to check for intoxicants a criminal offense?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Birchfield v. North Dakota

Whether, without a warrant, a State can make an individual’s refusal to take a chemical test to check for intoxicants a criminal offense?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Ross v. Blake

Whether the Fourth Circuit properly used a common law “special circumstances” exception to the Prison Litigation Reform Act?

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

Sheriff v. Gillie

Whether special counsel appointed by the attorney general to undertake their duty to collect debts owed to the State are state officials and whether it is materially misleading for the special counsel to use the attorney general’s letterhead to convey they are collecting debts owed to the State.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., Inc.

Whether an approved jurisdictional determination issued by the United States Army Corps of Engineers or Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act is considered a final agency action subject to immediate judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act § 704?

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

United States v. Bryant

Whether the domestic abuse recidivist statute should consider past convictions from tribal courts where the defendant did not have a right to counsel and the conviction resulted in imprisonment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law