This morning the justices issued orders from last week’s private conference. They added two new cases to their merits docket for next term and asked the Acting Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the views of the United States in a third case. But, once again, they did not act on Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case filed by a Colorado man with religious objections to creating a cake for a same-sex wedding celebration.
The two grants came in cases involving bankruptcy and securities law. In US Bank National Association v. Village of Lakeridge, the justices agreed to weigh in on just one of the three questions presented by the petition: What standard of review should courts use to determine whether someone is an “insider” for purposes of the Bankruptcy Code – de novo or “clearly erroneous”? The question matters because insiders are often treated differently under the code, including when it comes to confirming a Chapter 11 reorganization plan over the objection of a secured creditor. Last year the court had asked the federal government to file a brief expressing the views of the United States on the questions presented in the case; the United States had recommended that review be denied, but today the justices nonetheless granted certiorari.
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The blog and Goldstein & Russell, P.C., are looking for someone to serve as both the firm manager for Goldstein & Russell, P.C., and the deputy manager of SCOTUSblog. The principal responsibilities for this position include, but are not limited to:
- Coordinating and proofing Supreme Court filings;
- Paralegal tasks, including drafting simple legal documents, checking citations for accuracy and formatting, and light legal research;
- Administrative work for the firm and in particular for Tom Goldstein, the firm’s managing partner;
- Scheduling travel, which may entail making frequent last-minute changes and arrangements, sometimes during off hours;
- Assisting with case coverage; and
- Overseeing occasional special projects.
The qualifications for this position include:
- Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail;
- Excellent writing and editing skills;
- Strong interest in learning about the U.S. Supreme Court and its workings;
- Undergraduate experience with law-related courses is a plus, though not a requirement, as is an interest in attending law school (part-time students are not eligible for this position); and
- Ability to improvise; we occasionally need all hands on deck both during and outside of normal business hours.
This position would begin in mid-July 2017. A commitment of at least two years is required for this position. To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, transcript (either official or unofficial), and unedited writing sample (no more than five pages) to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org by April 10. Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. This position is located in Bethesda, Maryland.
Today the court hears oral argument in two cases. The first is Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton (consolidated with two other related cases), which asks whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s exemption for church plans applies to pension plans maintained by church-affiliated organizations. Ronald Mann previewed the case for this blog. Emily Rector and Kimberly Petrick preview the case for Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute. At his eponymous blog, Ross Runkel also looks at the case, noting that it “could possibly up-end thirty years of administrative interpretations that have granted a church plan exemption even though a plan was not initially established by a church – so long as it is maintained by an otherwise qualifying organization that is associated with or controlled by a church.” Today’s second argument is in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Brands Group LLC, in which the justices will consider the rules governing the venue in which patent infringement lawsuits can be filed. Ronald Mann had this blog’s preview. Nicholas Halliburton previews the case for Cornell.
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The court issued orders from its March 24 conference on Monday. It granted certiorari in two cases and called for the views of the solicitor general in one more. On Tuesday, the court released its opinion in Moore v. Texas. There is a possibility of opinions on Wednesday, March 29. The court heard oral arguments on Monday and Tuesday, and it will again on Wednesday. The calendar for the March sitting is available on the court’s website. On Friday the justices will meet for their March 31 conference; our list of “petitions to watch” for that conference will be available soon.
Over 95% of criminal cases in the federal system end in a plea bargain, rather than going to trial. One such case is that of Jae Lee, who in 2009 pleaded guilty to possession of ecstasy with the intent to distribute it. Lee was sentenced to one year and one day in prison – considerably less than the 24 to 30 months suggested by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The real problems began after Lee went to prison. In 1982, at the age of 13, Lee had moved from South Korea to the United States with his parents. They became U.S. citizens, but he did not. Lee’s attorney, Larry Fitzgerald, had told Lee before he entered his plea that he would not be deported: The government wasn’t seeking to deport him as part of the plea bargain, Fitzgerald explained, and because Lee had been in the country so long, the government couldn’t remove him from the country even if it wanted to. Fitzgerald’s advice, it turned out, was dead wrong. Lee learned that deportation was a mandatory penalty for the crime of which he had now been convicted.
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The petition of the day is:
Issue: Whether, when the actual basis for counsel’s acts or omissions was unreasonable, a court may nevertheless hold, based on an invented rationale, that defense counsel’s performance was reasonable under Strickland v. Washington.
Oyez has posted audio and transcripts from this week’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court.
The court heard argument this week in:
On March 27 at 12 p.m., the D.C. Bar will host the next installment of its seminar series on issues and cases before the court. Ruthanne Deutsch and Brian Wolfman will focus on Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, in which the court held that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires a school to offer an “individualized education program” reasonably calculated to allow a student to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. This blog’s Edith Roberts will serve as the moderator. More information and registration are available for the in-person presentation and the webinar.
John Elwood reviews Monday’s relists.
In a week where there was no shortage of bigly stories for court-watchers, it’s hard to know where to begin. The really tough questions the Senate threw at Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week? Or the fact that we as a nation remain deeply divided on basic issues, unable even to recognize the common humanity of those who disagree? But at least the rough and tumble of public debate has achieved consensus on one issue: There must be punctuation to reflect the dopey blank-stare pause between “uuuh” and “what?,” known to grammarians as an “Oxnard Comma.”
While the two serial relists that have been hanging around for a month or more return for another conference, last week’s three new relists were unceremoniously shown the door without so much as a dissent from denial. The hardy duo of returning relists are joined this week by four new hopefuls. Every one involves a very narrow issue – none of them is the sort of blockbuster the court has produced in recent years. The cases fall into two broad categories – we’ll briefly describe them all, alternating between cases involving human drama and nerd-fests.
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Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up its hearing on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. A round-up of early coverage of and commentary on the proceedings, including the possibility of a filibuster by Democratic senators, appeared in this blog. Additional coverage comes from Nina Totenberg at NPR, Ken Jost at Jost on Justice, Tierney Sneed at Talking Points Memo, Tony Mauro in The National Law Journal (registration or subscription required), and Mark Walsh in Education Week. Commentary comes from Kimberly Strassel in The Wall Street Journal, the editorial board of The New York Times, We the People (podcast), Dean Obeidallah at The Daily Beast, Sarah Posner in The Washington Post, and Tony Francois at the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Liberty Blog.
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