Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

On Monday at 9:30 a.m. we expect the Court to issue orders from the October 31 Conference; we do not expect the Justices to issue any decisions on the merits.
Our list of "Petitions to watch for that Conference is here.

Petitions We’re Watching

View Petitions by Conference Date

Petitions We're Watching
Docket Case Page Issue(s)
11-46 Adar v. Smith (1) Whether a state violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause when an executive official selectively disregards some out-of-state judgments of adoption based on policy assessments of the wisdom of those judgments; (2) whether 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a remedy for a violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause; and (3) whether a state violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when, based on its disapproval of the unmarried status of a child’s adoptive parents, the state refuses to issue the child with an accurate, amended birth certificate.
14-1 AEP Energy Services v. Heartland Regional Medical Center (1) Whether due process permits a court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over non-consenting, out-of-state defendants based on the plaintiffs’ bare allegation that the defendants engaged in a nationwide conspiracy outside the forum that had an intended effect inside the forum (as well as presumably in every other state); and (2) whether due process permits a court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over non-consenting, out-of-state defendants when the defendants’ limited forum conduct bears no causal relationship to the plaintiffs’ claim.
13-1467 Aetna Life Insurance Company v. Kobold Whether the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA), which expressly “preempt[s] any State or local law” that would prevent enforcement of “[t]he terms of any contract” under FEHBA that “relate to the nature, provision, or extent of coverage or benefits (including payments with respect to benefits),” preempts state laws precluding carriers that administer FEHBA plans from seeking reimbursement or subrogation pursuant to the terms of FEHBA contracts.
12-550 Alpha I, LP v. U.S. 1) Whether the penalty under 26 U.S.C. § 6662 for an overvaluation misstatement is applicable to any underpayment of tax that may result from adjustments made by the IRS in a notice of Final Partnership Administrative Adjustment (“FPAA”) issued to a partnership, when that partnership concedes the adjustments asserted in the FPAA on a ground that is separate from valuation. 2) Whether a court has jurisdiction in a partnership-level proceeding under the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (“TEFRA”) (i.e., 26 U.S.C. §§ 6221—6233) to determine whether a partner’s transfer of his or her partnership interest was a sham, based on the possibility that the trial court might make findings not urged by either party but that would support the court’s jurisdiction.
14-355 Ames v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (1) Whether, in a constructive discharge case, the plaintiff must also prove, in addition to proving that discrimination created conditions so intolerable that a reasonable person would have felt compelled to resign, that the employer acted with the intent of forcing the plaintiff to resign; and (2) whether, in a constructive discharge case, the plaintiff must also prove that before resigning he or she complained sufficiently to the employer about the discrimination.
11-363 Amgen Inc. v. New York (1) Whether a claim can be deemed “false or fraudulent” within the meaning of the False Claims Act because the claimant violated a statutory, regulatory or contractual obligation and, at the time the claim was submitted, the government payor could have but was not required to deny the claim on that ground; and (2) whether the provisions of the False Claims Act can be used to enforce compliance with statutes, regulations, contractual obligations, or other program requirements, even though no statute, regulation or contractual provision expressly conditions payment on compliance with those obligations.
14-5227 Arroyo v. U.S. (1) Whether this Court should resolve a circuit split concerning whether the mere touching (simple battery) of a law enforcement officer is a violent felony under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii); (2) whether the offense of discharging a firearm from a vehicle, which does not require knowledge of another person’s presence, is a violent felony under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii); and (3) whether Almendarez-Torres v. United States should be overruled.
13-1379 Athena Cosmetics v. Allergan Whether, under Buckman Co. v. Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act impliedly preempts a private state-law claim for unfair competition premised on a party’s purported failure to obtain Food and Drug Administration approval, where the Food and Drug Administration itself has not imposed any such requirement.
13-330 Avis Budget Group v. Alaska Rent-A-Car Whether the erroneous deprivation of a peremptory challenge in federal court, which allows a prospective juror who should have been stricken to sit on the jury, is subject to harmless-error review.
13-1421 Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett Whether, under Section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code, which provides that “[t]o the extent that a lien secures a claim against the debtor that is not an allowed secured claim, such lien is void,” a chapter 7 debtor may “strip off” a junior mortgage lien in its entirety when the outstanding debt owed to a senior lienholder exceeds the current value of the collateral.
14-163 Bank of America, N.A. v. Toledo-Cardona Whether, under Section 506(d) of the Bankruptcy Code, which provides that “[t]o the extent that a lien secures a claim against the debtor that is not an allowed secured claim, such lien is void,” a chapter 7 debtor may “strip off” a junior mortgage lien in its entirety when the outstanding debt owed to a senior lienholder exceeds the current value of the collateral.
14-35 Berger v. American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Whether the government speech doctrine permits the state of North Carolina to promote its “Choose Life” message through a specialty license plate program over which it exercises complete and effective control without also offering a pro-choice specialty plate.
12-13 Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives v. Gill (1) Whether Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. § 7, violates the equal protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; and (2) whether the court below erred by inventing and applying to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act a previously unknown standard of equal protection review.
14-292 Bower v. Texas (1) Whether the former Texas special issues for death penalty sentencing do provide – as the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held – or do not provide – as the Fifth Circuit has held – an appropriate vehicle for the jury to consider and give full effect to mitigating evidence of good character, such that failure to provide a separate question violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments under this Court’s jurisprudence in Penry v. Lynaugh and Penry v. Johnson; (2) whether a conviction aided by the prosecution's failure to produce evidence that contradicted its theory and showed that the evidence it did rely upon and the resulting jury arguments were false violates the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments under this Court's Brady v. Maryland jurisprudence; and (3) whether executing a defendant who has already served more than 30 years on death row while exercising his legal rights in a non-abusive manner serves any penological purpose and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
14-123 BP Exploration & Production Inc. v. Lake Eugenie Land & Development Whether the court of appeals erred in holding – in conflict with the Second, Seventh, Eighth, and D.C. Circuits – that district courts can, consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and Article III of the Constitution, certify classes that include numerous members who have not suffered any injury caused by the defendant.
12-23 Brewer v. Diaz Whether the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ignored this Court’s precedent and erred in holding that Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Section 38-651(O) (Section O) violates the Equal Protection Clause by limiting healthcare benefits to state employees’ spouses and dependents – and thus not extending such benefits to state employees’ domestic partners – given that a) Section O is facially neutral and there is no evidence that the Legislature intended to discriminate based on sexual orientation; b) Section O furthers the State’s interests in promoting marriage while also eliminating the additional expense and administrative burdens involved in providing healthcare benefits to state employees’ domestic partners; and c) the court’s reason for finding that Section O discriminates against gay and lesbian state employees was that Arizona prohibits same-sex marriage.
13-1433 Brumfield v. Cain (1) Whether a state court that considers the evidence presented at a petitioner's penalty phase proceeding as determinative of the petitioner's claim of mental retardation under Atkins v. Virginia has based its decision on an unreasonable determination of facts under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2); and (2) whether a state court that denies funding to an indigent petitioner who has no other means of obtaining evidence of his mental retardation has denied petitioner his “opportunity to be heard,” contrary to Atkins and Ford v. Wainwright and his constitutional right to be provided with the “basic tools” for an adequate defense, contrary to Ake v. Oklahoma.
14-116 Bullard v. Hyde Park Savings Bank Whether an order denying confirmation of a bankruptcy plan is appealable.
11-1497 Byrne v. Wood, Herron & Evans, LLP (1) Whether the Federal Circuit departed from the standard this Court articulated in Grable & Sons Metal Products, Inc. v. Darue Engineering & Manufacturing for “arising under” jurisdiction of the federal courts under 28 U.S.C. §1338, when it held that state law legal malpractice tort claims which involve no actual patents and have no impact on actual patent rights come within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal courts because a patent was involved in the underlying litigation; and (2) whether the Federal Circuit’s overly broad and mistaken standard has caused a conflict among state courts and federal courts regarding federal jurisdiction with some other courts declining to assume federal jurisdiction of these state law tort cases.
12-6142 Calhoun v. U.S. (1) Whether it is fundamental or structural error not amenable to meaningful review for the government to resort to racial prejudice or stereotypes as an indicia of guilt; (2) If it is not structural error, is it always plain error for the government to interject racial stereotypes into a trial in order to show the defendant’s guilt?
13-439 CarMax Auto Superstores California, LLC v. Fowler Whether California’s “Gentry rule” – under which class-action waivers in employment arbitration agreements are invalid if “a class arbitration is likely to be a significantly more effective practical means of vindicating the rights of the affected employees than individual litigation or arbitration,” Gentry v. Superior Court of L.A. County, is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act in light of this Court’s decisions in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion and American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant.
14-212 Carroll v. Carman (1) Whether, when a police officer approaches a residence to conduct a “knock and talk,” the Fourth Amendment requires the officer to go to the “front door” even where it reasonably appears that some other entrance is also customarily used by visitors; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in holding that such a rule was “clearly established” for purposes of qualified immunity.
12-747 Cerdant v. DHL Express (USA) Is a class representative in a putative class action faced with a Rule 68 offer of judgment in excess of its potential recovery that makes no reference to class claims required to reject said offer, proceed to trial, and bear all of the costs of continuing litigation in order to preserve its right to appellate review of a denial of class certification?
12-747 Cerdant v. DHL Express (USA) Is a class representative in a putative class action faced with a Rule 68 offer of judgment in excess of its potential recovery that makes no reference to class claims required to reject said offer, proceed to trial, and bear all of the costs of continuing litigation in order to preserve its right to appellate review of a denial of class certification?
14-282 Chandler v. U.S. Whether conspiracy to commit a robbery, absent any overt act in furtherance of the crime, is itself a violent felony presenting a serious potential risk of physical injury justifying an enhanced sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act.
14-260 Chase Investment Services Corp. v. Baumann (1) Whether a suit brought by a private party on behalf of himself and other similarly situated individuals is a “class action” subject to the diversity jurisdiction provisions of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005; and (2) whether aggrieved employees’ claims to statutory penalties and attorney’s fees may be aggregated for purposes of satisfying the amount-in-controversy requirement of the diversity jurisdiction statute.
14-6873 Christeson v. Roper (1) Whether an actual conflict of interest meets the “interests of justice” standard established in Martel v. Clair and requires substitution of conflict free counsel for conflicted counsel appointed under 18 U.S.C. § 3599; and (2) whether counsel appointed under 18 U.S.C. § 3599, who procedurally defaulted the client’s federal habeas application by untimely filing the petition, should continue their court appointment and determine the existence of, and plead, their own aban