Posted on January 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm by Kali Borkoski
This morning the Court issued four opinions in cases argued this fall.
Justice Sotomayor announced the first opinion of the morning, in Gonzalez v. Thaler. By a vote of eight to one, the Court affirmed the decision of the Fifth Circuit, holding that Section 2253(c)(3) is a mandatory but nonjurisdictional rule. The failure of a certificate of appealability to “indicate” a constitutional issue does not deprive a court of appeals of jurisdiction to adjudicate the appeal. Moreover, the Court held, for a state prisoner who does not seek review in a state’s highest court, the judgment becomes “final” for purposes of Section 2244(d)(1)(A) upon “expiration of the time for seeking such review.” The petitioner’s appeal in this case was therefore untimely. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion.
Justice Breyer announced the second opinion, Minneci v. Pollard. Also by a vote of eight to one, the Court reversed the Ninth Circuit’s decision, holding because in this case, state tort law authorizes adequate alternative damages actions no Bivens remedy can be implied. Justice Scalia wrote a separate concurring opinion, which was joined by Justice Thomas, but also joined the Court’s opinion. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion.
Justice Scalia announced the opinion in CompuCredit v. Greenwood. Also by a vote of eight to one, the Court reversed the Ninth Circuit and remanded the case for further consideration. The Court held that because the Credit Repair Organizations Act is silent on whether claims can proceed in an arbitrable forum, the Federal Arbitration Act requires the arbitration agreement to be enforced according to its terms. Justice Sotomayor filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, which Justice Kagan joined. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion.
The final opinion issued today was in Smith v. Cain, announced for the Court by Chief Justice Roberts. Once again by a vote of eight to one, the Court reversed the decision of the Louisiana state court and remanded the case for further consideration. The Court held that the substantial Brady claims in the case require a reversal of the petitioner’s conviction. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion.