U.S. Supreme Court accepts three new cases for October 2019-2020 term

On January 10, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear three new cases during its October 2019-2020 term: Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board, and Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc. As of January 15, the court had agreed to hear 70 cases this term.

In the case of Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the Arkansas General Assembly passed a state law in 2015 that included mandates for pharmacy reimbursement for drug costs and new requirements for pharmacy benefits managers’ updates to maximum allowable cost lists. The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association brought action to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas on behalf of its pharmacy benefits manager members. The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association alleged that the law was preempted by existing federal law and was unconstitutional. The court held that the law was preempted in part and not preempted in part by federal law, and that it was not unconstitutional.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. In June 2018, the 8th Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s decision and remanded the case. In October 2018, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, acting in her official capacity, filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue in the case is: Whether the 8th Circuit erred in holding that Arkansas’ statute regulating pharmacy benefit managers’ drug-reimbursement rates, similar to laws enacted by a substantial majority of states, is preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), in contravention of the Supreme Court’s precedent that ERISA does not preempt rate regulation.

In the case of Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board, Manfredo Salinas filed an application for a disability annuity with the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board’s Disability Benefits Division in 2006. The application was denied. Salinas appealed to the Board to reconsider. The Board denied the request.

In 2013, Salinas filed a new application for a disability annuity. The Board granted the annuity. Salinas appealed the annuity’s start date and amount, and requested that his prior applications be reviewed. The Board denied the request.

On appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, Salinas filed a petition for review of the Board’s decision. The 5th Circuit dismissed the petition, holding that the court lacked jurisdiction to review the Board’s decision. In August 2019, Salinas filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue in the case is: Whether, under Section 5(f) of the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act and Section 8 of the Railroad Retirement Act, the Railroad Retirement Board’s denial of a request to reopen a prior benefits determination is a “final decision” subject to judicial review.

In the case of Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc., the American Association of Political Consultants and three other plaintiffs initiated litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina against the federal government in 2016. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991’s automated-call restriction’s debt-collection exemption, citing the free speech clause of the First Amendment. In 2017, both the plaintiffs and the federal government moved for summary judgment. The Eastern District of North Carolina awarded summary judgment to the federal government, denied the motion by the plaintiffs, and rejected the plaintiffs’ free speech clause challenge.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit vacated the district court’s award of summary judgment to the federal government, directed the severance of the debt-collection exemption from the automated call ban, and remanded the case. In November 2019, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, acting in his official capacity, along with the Federal Communications Commission filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue in the case is: Whether the debt-collection exemption to the automated call ban violates the First Amendment, and whether the proper remedy for any constitutional violation is to sever the exemption from the remainder of the statute.

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Additional reading:
Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association
Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board
Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc.
Supreme Court of the United States




About the author

Kate Carsella

Kate Carsella is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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