SCOTUS hears three hours of oral argument during the first week of March

The first week of March closed out the U.S. Supreme Court’s February sitting with three hours of oral arguments in seven cases. The court will hear oral arguments again during its March sitting scheduled for March 22 to March 31. 

On March 1, the court heard one hour of oral argument in United States v. Arthrex Inc. (consolidated with Smith & Nephew Inc. v. Arthrex Inc. and Arthrex Inc. v. Smith & Nephew Inc.) The issues before the court were: “1. Whether, for purposes of the Appointments Clause, U.S. Const. Art. II, § 2, Cl. 2, administrative patent judges of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are principal officers who must be appointed by the President with the Senate’s advice and consent, or ‘inferior Officers’ whose appointment Congress has permissibly vested in a department head; and 2. Whether, if administrative patent judges are principal officers, the court of appeals properly cured any Appointments Clause defect in the current statutory scheme prospectively by severing the application of 5 U.S.C. 7513(a) to those judges.”

On March 2, the court heard one hour of oral argument in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee (consolidated with Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee). The issues before the court were: “1. Does Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act?; and 2. Does Arizona’s ballot-collection law violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act or the Fifteenth Amendment?”

On March 3, the court heard one hour of oral argument in Carr v. Saul (consolidated with Davis v. Saul). The issue before the court was: “Whether claimants seeking disability benefits under the Social Security Act must exhaust Appointments Clause challenges before the Administrative Law Judge as a prerequisite to obtaining judicial review.”

As of February 25, 2021, the court had agreed to hear 63 cases during its 2020-2021 term. Of those, 12 were originally scheduled for the 2019-2020 term but were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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