It’s planes, trains, and…boats at the Supreme Court this week as Southwest Airlines, Union Pacific Railroad Company, and Viking River Cruises are parties in three of the cases being argued to close out the court’s March argument sitting. This and much more await us below, so grab your gavel and dive on in.
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SCOTUS has granted three cases since our March 21 issue. To date, the court has agreed to hear nine cases during its 2022-2023 term. The court has not yet scheduled any of the cases for argument.
In the current 2021-2022 term, the court has agreed to hear 66 cases.
- National Pork Producers Council v. Ross came to the court from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. It concerns California’s Proposition 12 and the conditions the proposition imposes on pork producers nationwide in order to sell pork in California. Petitioners allege Proposition 12 violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
- Cruz v. Arizona came to the court from the Arizona Supreme Court. It concerns the application of U.S. Supreme Court precedent in state capital cases’ appellate review.
- Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith came to the court from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The case concerns the meaning of a transformative work for purposes of fair use under the Copyright Act.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in four cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.
Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
- LeDure v. Union Pacific Railroad Company concerns the meaning of a locomotive being in use for liability purposes under the Locomotive Inspection Act. Click here to learn more about the case’s background.
- Southwest Airlines v. Saxon concerns the definition of transportation workers for exemption purposes from the Federal Arbitration Act. Click here to learn more about the case’s background.
- Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety concerns the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) and sovereign immunity. Click here to learn more about the case’s background.
- Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana concerns a potential conflict between federal and state arbitration laws in certain types of arbitration proceedings. Click here to learn more about the cases’ backgrounds.
SCOTUS has issued three new opinions since our March 21 edition. The court has issued rulings in 17 cases so far this term, three of which were decided without argument.
- In Wisconsin Legislature v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, SCOTUS reversed the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to enact Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) state house and senate redistricting maps, and it sent the case back to state court for further proceedings. The case came to the court on an emergency basis when the Wisconsin Legislature filed an appeal with SCOTUS to stop the state supreme court’s ruling from going into effect. SCOTUS issued its opinion without hearing arguments in the case.
In an unsigned per curiam opinion, the court held that the Wisconsin Supreme Court erred in its analysis of federal precedent on the Voting Rights Act and Equal Protection Clause as applied to race-based districting cases. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, joined by Justice Elena Kagan. Click here to read more about the opinion.
- Ramirez v. Collier came to the court from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The case concerns the limits state prison officials can place on a prisoner’s request for spiritual aid during an execution. In an 8-1 ruling, the court reversed the 5th Circuit’s decision that a state prison can prevent a prisoner’s spiritual advisor from touching the prisoner and audibly praying in the execution chamber. The court found that when these acts are part of the prisoner’s sincerely held religious beliefs, the prison must reasonably accommodate these requests. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the court’s opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion.
- Houston Community College System v. Wilson also originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The case concerns free speech protections and an elected governing body’s authority to censure a member for their speech. In a unanimous 9-0 decision, the court reversed the 5th Circuit’s ruling that Houston Community College’s Board of Trustees violated board member Wilson’s right to free speech when it censured him for his actions. The court noted that local elected boards commonly use the power of censure on its members, and censure itself is a form of speech. Under the case’s specific set of facts, the court found that censure did not violate Wilson’s rights. Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the court’s opinion.
Upcoming SCOTUS dates
Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:
- March 28: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
- March 29: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
- March 30: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
- March 31: SCOTUS will issue opinions.
- April 1: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
- April 4: SCOTUS will issue orders.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court’s newest justice, was nominated to the court on Sept. 29, 2020. How many days passed between her nomination and her Senate confirmation?
Choose an answer to find out!
Federal court action
The president has announced 83 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has not voted on any Article III nominees since our March 21 edition.
The committee held four days of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson over the past week, from March 21 through March 24. It is scheduled to vote on Jackson’s nomination on April 4. If the committee reports Jackson favorably, her nomination will advance to the full U.S. Senate for a confirmation vote. Click here to learn more about the committee hearings.
The Senate has confirmed 10 new nominees since our previous edition. As of this writing, 56 of President Biden’s Article III nominees have been confirmed since he assumed office.
- Alison J. Nathan, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit
- Victoria Calvert, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
- John Chun, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- Jacqueline Scott Corley, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- Hector Gonzalez, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
- Julie Rubin, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
- Ruth Bermudez Montenegro, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
- Cristina Silva, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada
- Fred W. Slaughter, to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- Anne Traum, to the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada
The federal judiciary currently has 74 vacancies, 72 of which are for lifetime Article III judgeships. As of this writing, there were 21 pending nominations.
According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, there were 37 upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary, where judges have announced their intention to leave active status.
For more information on judicial vacancies during the Biden administration, click here.
Note: This chart is updated at the start of each month with the latest vacancy data from U.S. Courts.
Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.
Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.
Or, keep an eye on our list for updates on federal judicial nominations.
We’ll be back on April 11 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out!