Petitions We’re Watching

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Petitions Relisted for the Next Conference

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
14-452 Kansas v. Gleason Whether the Eighth Amendment requires that a capital-sentencing jury be affirmatively instructed that mitigating circumstances “need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” as the Kansas Supreme Court held in this case, or instead whether the Eighth Amendment is satisfied by instructions that, in context, make clear that each juror must individually assess and weigh any mitigating circumstances.
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 thirty 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.

Petitions for Conference of 02.20.2015

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
14-619 Zoll Lifecor Corporation v. Philips Electronics North American Corporation Whether the Federal Circuit has erred in blocking all appellate review of United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) decisions made under 35 U.S.C. §§ 312 and 315, when the only limit in the statute is in Section 314, which is expressly limited to decisions made “under this section” – thus giving the USPTO complete and unreviewable authority under these two sections to reject assertions that the agency previously erred in granting patents.
14-585 Kagan v. City of New Orleans Whether New Orleans's tour-guide licensing requirements violate the First Amendment.
14-528 Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department v. Sandoval (1) Whether a police officer’s warrantless entry into a home is justified under the Fourth Amendment in responding to a 911 call for burglary, regardless of whether the suspected crime is classified as a felony or as a misdemeanor; and (2) whether a police officer is, alternatively, entitled to qualified immunity because it is not clearly established that the warrantless entry into a home in responding to a 911 call for burglary is limited to only a suspected crime classified as a felony.
14-487 The Rawlings Company, LLC v. Wurtz Whether a state-law action by Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan participants challenging a plan reimbursement provision is completely preempted by ERISA § 502(a)'s exclusive scheme for enforcing and clarifying plan terms.
14-456 Alvarez v. U.S. Whether, when a court of appeals issues a general remand for resentencing, the district court may conduct resentencing de novo.
14-430 Kelly v. McCarley (1) What standards a federal habeas court should apply when reviewing a state court's determination that a constitutional error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt under Chapman v. California; and (2) whether the Sixth Circuit erred by granting habeas relief based on its de novo review of the habeas petitioner’s claim and on its “grave doubts” over whether the alleged constitutional error influenced the jury's verdict.
14-363 Hildebrand v. Allegheny County Whether the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which forbids age-based discrimination against state and local government employees, precludes those employees from bringing a section 1983 action to redress age discrimination that violates the Equal Protection Clause.
14-361 Ocasio v. U.S. Whether a conspiracy to commit extortion requires that the conspirators agree to obtain property from someone outside the conspiracy.
14-354 The Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York (1) Whether a government policy expressly excluding “religious worship services” from a broadly open forum violates the Free Exercise Clause and Establishment Clause; and (2) whether a government policy expressly excluding “religious worship services” from a broadly open forum violates the Free Speech Clause.
14-342 King Cole Foods v. U.S. Whether Sixth Circuit precedent which precludes judicial review of the administrative sanction disqualifying petitioners from further participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program should be reversed because the express language of 7 U.S.C. § 2023(a)(15) permits de novo judicial review of “the questioned administrative action in issue” and because the Sixth Circuit precedent conflicts with other circuits which have reviewed the issue.
14-317 New Mexico v. Schwartz (1) Whether live, two-way video testimony -- which is given under oath, allows the jury to assess the witness’s demeanor, and provides the accused a fair opportunity to confront and cross-examine -- satisfies the constitutional requirement of face-to-face confrontation or qualifies as a permissible substitute for in-person testimony upon a showing of unavailability or other necessity-based standard; and (2) whether any impermissible use of two-way video testimony is subject to the harmless error standard of Delaware v. Van Arsdall, which evaluates a missing element of confrontation in the context of the witness's testimony and the trial as a whole, or instead is subject to the standard of Coy v. Iowa, which disregards the offending testimony in its entirety and considers only the remaining evidence.
14-276 Wilkins v. Stephens (1) Whether the Fifth Circuit erred in holding that a capital habeas petitioner may not obtain funding under 18 U.S.C. § 3599(f) to investigate and develop a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel if the claim has been procedurally defaulted, regardless of whether the petitioner can establish cause for the default under Martinez v. Ryan, at least where the petitioner has not already demonstrated the merits of the claim; and (2) whether, in a capital habeas case where the petitioner has had no opportunity or funding to investigate or develop his procedurally defaulted ineffective-assistance claim, a federal court may deny relief and deny a certificate of appealability based on a premature determination that the claim lacks merit.

Petitions Not Set for Conference

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
22o144 Nebraska and Oklahoma v. Colorado (1) Whether the Court will grant Nebraska and Oklahoma leave to file an original action to seek a declaratory judgment stating that Sections 16(4) and (5) of Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution are preempted by federal law, and therefore unconstitutional and unenforceable under the Supremacy Clause, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution; (2) whether Colorado should be enjoined from any and all application and implementation of Sections 16(4) and (5) of Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution; (3) whether Colorado should be enjoined from any and all application and implementation of statutes or regulations promulgated pursuant to Sections 16(4) and (5) of Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution; and (4) whether Colorado should be ordered to pay the plaintiff states’ costs and expenses associated with this legal action, including attorneys’ fees.
14-688 Shamokin Filler Company v. Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (1) Whether the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act’s definition of “the work of preparing coal” includes purchasers of processed and prepared coal; and (2) whether the Court of Appeals should have remanded to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission to consider the evidence that the statute had been inconsistently applied.
14-687 Stiefel Laboratories v. Finnerty Whether Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 impose a duty on a corporation to “update” prior truthful statements.
14-656 RJR Pension Investment Committee v. Tatum (1) Whether the plaintiff bears the burden of proving loss causation under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1109, or whether it can shift the burden on that element to the defendant by carrying its burden on the analytically distinct elements of breach of fiduciary duty and loss to the plan; and (2) whether an ERISA fiduciary with a duty of prudence can be held liable for money damages under § 1109 even though its ultimate investment decision was objectively prudent.
14-650 al Janko v. Gates (1) Whether Section 7(e)(2) of the Military Commissions Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2241(e)(2), unconstitutionally strips Article III courts of jurisdiction to hear constitutional claims of individuals detained by the United States that a habeas court has determined were never properly detained; and (2) whether the D.C. Circuit correctly held that the use of the term “United States” in Section 7(e)(2) of the Military Commissions Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2241(e)(2), refers solely to the executive branch, in light of this Court’s precedent stating that the plain statutory meaning of the term “United States” is “the sovereign composed of the three branches.”
14-647 Gilead Sciences v. Natco Pharma Limited Whether, contrary to this Court’s consistent and longstanding precedent and Congress’s intent, the double-patenting doctrine can be used to invalidate a properly issued patent before its statutory term has expired using a second, later-issuing patent whose term of exclusivity is entirely subsumed within that first patent’s term.
14-625 Opalinski v. Robert Half Int'l Whether, where an arbitration agreement does not expressly refer to class arbitration, the determination of whether class or group arbitration is permitted by the agreement is a question of arbitrability, presumptively for the District Court to decide (as the Third and Sixth Circuits have now held), or a question of interpretation and procedure for the arbitrator (as the First, Second, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits, and numerous district courts have concluded).
14-622 Kuretski v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue Whether the President's authority under 26 U.S.C. § 7443(f) to remove Tax Court judges violates the Constitution's separation of powers.
14-618 Woods v. Donald (1) Whether the Michigan courts' decision not to extend United States v. Cronic to cover counsel's brief absence from trial was an “extreme malfunction” entitling the petitioner to habeas relief; and (2) whether the Michigan courts reasonably determined that Donald had not shown Strickland v. Washington prejudice flowing from his counsel's brief absence in a multi-defendant case during the taking of evidence that did not inculpate his client.
14-615 Jones v. Wagner Whether a district court judge may recall a jury on discovery of its own error in the receipt or recording of a jury's verdict and, if the jury has remained an undispersed unit within the court's control since discharge, may accept its verdict.
14-613 Green v. Donahoe Whether, under federal employment discrimination law, the filing period for a constructive discharge claim begins to run when an employee resigns, as five circuits have held, or at the time of an employer's last allegedly discriminatory act giving rise to the resignation, as three other circuits have held.
14-602 Umana v. U.S. Whether, at capital sentencing, the government may seek to prove the aggravating factor that the defendant committed previous unadjudicated murders through hearsay statements to police of other suspects in those murders, without permitting the defendant to confront or cross-examine his accusers.
14-577 Carpenter Co. v. Ace Foam (1) Whether the standing requirements of Article III apply to all members of a class certified under Rule 23; and (2) whether certifying a class under Rule 23(b)(3) is improper where individualized damages issues predominate, and where plaintiffs rely exclusively on aggregate damages models that calculate damages purportedly incurred by the class as a whole, rather than by individual class members.
14-534 Gupta v. U.S. (1) Whether, in a federal criminal case in which the defendant has introduced and the trial court has admitted evidence of good character under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(a)(2)(A), the trial court should instruct the jury that character evidence alone may create a reasonable doubt; and (2) whether testimony directly supporting a criminal defendant’s theory that he lacked a motive to commit the offense with which he is charged may be excluded under Federal Rule of Evidence 403 as unfairly prejudicial to the prosecution merely because it might also tend to establish a fact that the prosecution had already proven.
14-512 General Cigar Co. v. Empresa Cubana del Tabaco, dba Cubatabaco (1) Whether the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, which generally prohibit the transfer of any property to a Cuban entity by a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction, 31 C.F.R. § 515.201(b), bar a Cuban corporation from obtaining administrative cancellation of a trademark registration that has been held by a U.S. company for more than thirty years; and (2) whether the Federal Circuit's categorical rule that a prior judgment in a trademark infringement action that affirms the validity of a trademark registration cannot, as a matter of law, bar the challenger from petitioning an administrative agency for cancellation of the same registration is contrary to established claim preclusion standards.
14-510 Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. U.S. Whether the D.C. Circuit misapplied this Court's decision in Holland v. Florida when it ruled – in direct conflict with a holding of the Federal Circuit on materially similar facts – that the Tribe did not face an “extraordinary circumstance” warranting equitable tolling of the statute of limitations for filing of Indian Self-Determination Act claims under the Contract Disputes Act.
14-471 Contorinis v. Securities and Exchange Commission Whether a defendant in a Securities and Exchange Commission civil enforcement action can be ordered to disgorge profits that he or she never received, possessed, or controlled, but that instead accrued directly to innocent third parties.
14-462 DIRECTV v. Imburgia Whether the California Court of Appeal erred by holding, in direct conflict with the Ninth Circuit, that a reference to state law in an arbitration agreement governed by the Federal Arbitration Act requires the application of state law preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.
14-449 Kansas v. Carr (1) Whether the Eighth Amendment requires that a capital-sentencing jury be affirmatively instructed that mitigating circumstances “need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” as the Kansas Supreme Court held here, or instead whether the Eighth Amendment is satisfied by instructions that, in context, make clear that each juror must individually assess and weigh any mitigating circumstances; (2) whether the Confrontation Clause, as interpreted in Crawford v. Washington and Davis v. Washington, applies to the “selection” phase of capital sentencing proceedings, as the Kansas Supreme Court held here, i.e., after a defendant has been convicted of capital murder and proof of eligibility for the death penalty has been presented in the guilt phase subject to full confrontation, or does not apply to such purely sentencing evidence, as at least three Circuits have held; and (3) whether the trial court's decision not to sever the sentencing phase of the co-defendant brothers’ trial here – a decision that comports with the traditional approach preferring joinder in circumstances like this – violated an Eighth Amendment right to an “individualized sentencing” determination and was not harmless in any event.
14-419 Luis v. U.S. Whether the pretrial restraint of a criminal defendant's legitimate, untainted assets (those not traceable to a criminal offense) needed to retain counsel of choice violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.
13-1512 Hammond v. U.S. (1) Whether and under what circumstances the Eighth Amendment authorizes a district court to impose a sentence less than the statutory mandatory minimum; and (2) whether a criminal defendant's waiver of appeal rights made in an agreement to resolve a case prohibits an appeal by the government.

Calls for the Views of the Solicitor General

Docket Case Page Issue(s)
22o143 Mississippi v. Tennessee (1) Whether the Court will grant Mississippi leave to file an original action to seek relief from respondents’ use of a pumping operation to take approximately 252 billion gallons of high quality groundwater; (2) whether Mississippi has sole sovereign authority over and control of groundwater naturally stored within its borders, including in sandstone within Mississippi’s borders; and (3) whether Mississippi is entitled to damages, injunctive, and other equitable relief for the Mississippi intrastate groundwater intentionally and forcibly taken by respondents.
14-448 Google v. Vederi, LLC Whether, when an applicant for a patent amends a claim to overcome the Patent and Trademark Office’s earlier disallowance of the claim, a court should (i) presume that the amendment narrowed the claim and strictly construe the amended claim language against the applicant, as this Court has held; or (ii) presume that the claim scope remained the same and require that any narrowing be clear and unmistakable, as the Federal Circuit has held.
14-410 Google Inc. v. Oracle America Whether copyright protection extends to all elements of an original work of computer software, including a system or method of operation, that an author could have written in more than one way.
14-181 Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company Whether the Second Circuit – in a two-to-one panel decision that disregarded the considered opinion advanced by the United States as amicus – erred in holding that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) preempts Vermont's health care database law as applied to the third-party administrator for a self-funded ERISA plan.
13-1559 Corr v. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (1) Whether, as the United States implicitly conceded below, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) exercises sufficient federal power to mandate separation-of-powers scrutiny for purposes of a suit seeking injunctive relief and invoking the Little Tucker Act to seek monetary relief; and (2) whether the Metropolitan Washington Airports Act of 1986, 49 U.S.C. §§ 49101 et seq., which transferred to MWAA all of the federal government's “rights, liabilities, and obligations” concerning, inter alia, Dulles Airport and its “access highways and other related facilities,” violates the separation of powers, including the Executive Vesting, Appointments, and Take Care Clauses of Article II, by depriving the president of control over MWAA, an entity exercising – as the United States admits – executive branch functions pursuant to federal law.
13-1547 Ridley School District v. M. R., as Parents of E. R., a Minor Whether operation of a “stay-put” provision in 20 U.S.C. § 1415(j) – which requires that a child whose educational program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is under dispute to remain in his or her then-current placement while statutory “proceedings” to resolve the dispute are pending – terminates upon entry of a final judgment by a state or federal trial court in favor of the school district, as the D.C. and Sixth Circuits have held, or whether it continues until completion of any subsequent appeal of that judgment, as the Third and Ninth Circuits have held.
13-1496 Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Whether Indian tribal courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate civil tort claims against nonmembers, including as a means of regulating the conduct of nonmembers who enter into consensual relationships with a tribe or its members.
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.
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.
13-1361 Samantar v. Yousef Whether a foreign official’s common-law immunity for acts performed on behalf of a foreign state is abrogated by plaintiffs’ allegations that those official acts violate jus cogens norms of international law.
13-1339 Spokeo v. Robins Whether Congress may confer Article III standing upon a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm, and who therefore could not otherwise invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court, by authorizing a private right of action based on a bare violation of a federal statute.
13-1305 Coventry Health Care of Missouri v. Nevils Whether the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA), which governs the federal government’s provision of health benefits to millions of federal employees and their dependents, preempts state laws precluding carriers that administer FEHBA plans from seeking subrogation as required by their contracts with the Office of Personnel Management.

Petitions Held for Another Conference


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