Yesterday was a fairly active day for Court watchers, with the Justices issuing an opinion in one argued case, and hearing oral arguments in two others.

By a vote of seven to two, the Court in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida held that a floating houseboat is not a “vessel” for purposes of 1 U.S.C. § 3, and therefore federal maritime jurisdiction is not triggered, because – except for the fact that it floats – nothing about a houseboat suggests that it is intended to transport people or things over water.  At this blog Lyle Denniston provides a comprehensive analysis of the decision along with an explanation in “Plain English”; other coverage comes from Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News, Nina Totenberg of NPR, Adam Liptak of The New York Times, Michael Doyle and Ina Paiva Cordle of McClatchy Newspapers, David G. Savage of the Los Angeles Times, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal, Robert Barnes of The Washington Post, Matt Krantz of USA Today, Jesse J. Holland of the Associated Press, Jonathan Stempel of Reuters, and Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post.

Yesterday the Court also heard oral arguments in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, in which it is considering whether government agencies can impose strict conditions on their willingness to issue a development permit.  In his coverage of the argument for this blog, Lyle Denniston observes that one “worry that seemed to spread across the bench” was that “a victory for [the landowner seeking the permit] might well pull the government’s public works projects into constant constitutional court battles.”  Others to cover the Koontz argument include Jonathan Stempel of Reuters, Lawrence Hurley of Greenwire, and Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Today the Court will also hear oral arguments in two cases.  In City of Arlington v. FCC, the Court will confront whether a court should apply Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. NRDC, Inc., to review an agency’s determination of its own jurisdiction.  (Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorney work or contribute to this blog in various capacities, serves as co-counsel to the petitioners in this case.)  Miriam Seifter previews the case for this blog.  And at the Volokh Conspiracy Jonathan H. Adler notes that though the Court has never addressed this question head on, “the prevailing wisdom is that Chevon deference should not be available in the jurisdictional context.”

The Court will also hear oral arguments in Gunn v. Minton, presenting the issue of whether federal courts have exclusive “arising under” jurisdiction when the sole substantive issue is the application of a patent law doctrine which is an essential element of the plaintiff’s legal malpractice claim.  Ronald Mann previews the case for this blog.


Posted in Round-up

Recommended Citation: Conor McEvily, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 16, 2013, 12:46 PM),