The Court granted cert. in three cases, and will hear a fourth:

  • Schwarzenegger v. Plata (09-1233) (jurisdiction postponed)
  • CSX Transportation v. Alabama Department of Revenue (09-520), limited to the question as posed by the Solicitor General in the United States’ amicus brief
  • Cullen v. Pinholster (09-1088)
  • Matrixx Initiatives v. Siracusano (09-1156)

The full order list is here.

The Court also issued four opinions:

In Dolan v. United States (09-367), the Court affirms, in an opinion written by Justice Breyer.  The vote is 5-4, with a dissent by Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Stevens, Scalia, and Kennedy.

  • Holding: A sentencing court that has missed the 90-day deadline may nevertheless order restitution, at least in some circumstances.

In Holland v. Florida (09-5327), the Court reverses and remands, in an opinion again by Justice Breyer.  The vote is 7-2.  Justice Alito concurs in part and in the judgment, while Justice Scalia dissents, joined in part by Justice Thomas.

  • Holding: The Court permits equitable tolling of the habeas corpus filing deadline under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

In Astrue v. Ratliff (08-1322), the Court reverses and remands, in an opinion by Justice Thomas.  The vote is unanimous, but Justice Sotomayor files a concurrence joined by Justices Stevens and Ginsburg.

  • Holding: An individual who wins a case against the federal government and recovers attorney’s fees can have those offset if that individual owes a debt to the government.

In Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder (09-60), the Court reverses, in an opinion by Justice Stevens.  The vote is unanimous, though Justices Scalia and Thomas each file opinions concurring in the judgment only.

  • Holding: Second or subsequent crimes of possession of drugs are not aggravated felonies under federal immigration law when the underlying state conviction is not based on the fact that there was a prior conviction.

CORRECTION: This post originally said that jurisdiction was “noted,” rather than “postponed,” in Schwarzenegger v. Plata.

The full texts of the opinions released, and the briefs in the cases granted, are below.

Title: CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Alabama Department of Revenue
Docket: 09-520
Issue: Whether a state's exemption of railroad competitors, but not railroads, from a generally applicable sales and use tax is subject to challenge as "another tax that discriminates against a rail carrier" under Section 306(1)(d) of the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, 49 U.S.C. § 11501(b)(4).
Question presented by the Solicitor General: Whether a state's exemptions of rail carrier competitors, but not rail carriers, from generally applicable sales and use taxes on fuel subject the taxes to challenge under 49 U.S.C. 11501(b)(4) as "another tax that discriminates against a rail carrier."

Title: Cullen v. Pinholster
Docket: 09-1088
Issues: (1) Whether it is appropriate under § 2254 for a federal court to conclude that a state court's rejection of a claim was unreasonable in light of facts that an applicant could have but never alleged in state court; and (2) what standard of review is applicable to claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Title: Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. v. Siracusano
Docket: 09-1156
Issue: Whether a plaintiff can state a claim under § 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and SEC Rule 10b-5 based on a pharmaceutical company's nondisclosure of "adverse event" reports even though the reports are not alleged to be statistically significant.

Title: Schwarzenegger v. Plata
Docket: 09-1233
Issues: (1) Whether the three-judge court below properly determined that crowding was the "primary cause" of continuing violations of prisoners' constitutional rights to adequate health care, and that no remedy existed other than issuance of a Prisoner Release Order pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3626; (2) whether the system-wide Prisoner Release Orders issued by the three-judge court are "narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right, and [are] the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right" in compliance with the PLRA, 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A); and (3) whether the same court properly gave "substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system" in ordering a reduction in population of approximately 46,000 inmates.

[Note: The two case listed above is a jurisdictional statement rather than a petition.]

[Disclosure: Akin Gump was involved in the companion case 09-1232.]

No. 09-367, Dolan v. United States

No. 08-1322, Astrue v. Ratliff

No. 09-5327, Holland v. Florida

No. 09-60, Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline, Merits Cases