Robe & Gavel: SCOTUS hears the first arguments of its March sitting

Welcome to the March 20 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

“I’ve heard it said that winter, too, will pass, that spring is a sign that summer is due at last. See, all we have to do is hang on.”

– Maya Angelou

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SCOTUS accepted one new case since our March 6 issue. SCOTUS will review the case during its 2023-2024 term. To date, the court has agreed to hear three cases for its 2023-2024 term. Click the links below to learn more about this case:

Great Lakes Insurance SE v. Raiders Retreat Realty Co., LLC concerns federal admiralty law and choice of law clauses in contracts relating to sea vessels. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

  • Choice of law is when there is a conflict between the laws of different jurisdictions and a decision must be made concerning which laws to apply to a case or contract.


SCOTUS will hear arguments in four cases this week. Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

March 20, 2023

  • Arizona v. Navajo Nation concerns a water rights dispute over the Colorado River.
    • The questions presented:
      • “I. Does the Ninth Circuit Opinion, allowing the Nation to proceed with a claim to enjoin the Secretary to develop a plan to meet the Nation’s water needs and manage the mainstream of the LBCR so as not to interfere with that plan, infringe upon this Court’s retained and exclusive jurisdiction over the allocation of water from the LBCR mainstream in Arizona v. California?
      • “II. Can the Nation state a cognizable claim for breach of trust consistent with this Court’s holding in Jicarilla based solely on unquantified implied rights to water under the Winters Doctrine?”

March 21, 2023

  • Abitron Austria GmbH v. Hetronic International, Inc. concerns the Lanham Act of 1946 and trademark infringement claims.
    • The questions presented: “Whether the court of appeals erred in applying the Lanham Act extraterritorially to petitioners’ foreign sales, including purely foreign sales that never reached the United States or confused U.S. consumers.”
  • Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski concerns a circuit split regarding district court jurisdiction in arbitration cases under the Federal Arbitration Act.
    • The questions presented: “Does a non-frivolous appeal of the denial of a motion to compel arbitration oust a district court’s jurisdiction to proceed with litigation pending appeal, as the Third, Fourth, Seventh, Tenth, Eleventh and D.C. Circuits have held, or does the district court retain discretion to proceed with litigation while the appeal is pending, as the Second, Fifth, and Ninth Circuits have held?”

March 22, 2023

  • Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. v. VIP Products LLC concerns trademark infringement claims and commercial products that parody other commercial products.
    • The questions presented:
      • “1. Whether humorous use of another’s trademark as one’s own on a commercial product is subject to the Lanham Act’s traditional likelihood-of-confusion analysis, or instead receives heightened First Amendment protection from trademark-infringement claims.
      • “2. Whether humorous use of another’s mark as one’s own on a commercial product is “noncommercial” under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c)(3)(C), thus barring as a matter of law a claim of dilution by tarnishment under the Trademark Dilution Revision Act.”


SCOTUS has not issued any opinions since our previous edition. The court has issued rulings in seven cases so far this term

Between the 2007 and 2021 terms, SCOTUS issued opinions in 1,128 cases, averaging 75 opinions per year. During that period, the court reversed a lower court decision 805 times (71.4 percent) and affirmed a lower court decision 315 times (27.9 percent).

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • March 20, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
  • March 21, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • March 22, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
  • March 24, 2023: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.

Federal court action


President Joe Biden has announced no new Article III nominees since our March 7 edition.

The president has announced 154 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

Committee action

The Senate Judiciary Committee has reported one new nominee out of committee since our  March 7 edition.


The Senate has confirmed five nominees since our March 7 issue.


The federal judiciary currently has 76 vacancies, 74 of which are for lifetime Article III judgeships. As of publication, there are 32 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, there are 25 upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary, where judges have announced their intention to leave active judicial status.

For more information on judicial vacancies during President Biden’s term, click here.

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.

Correction: In our March 7 edition of Robe & Gavel, there was an error in our Grants section. We stated, “SCOTUS accepted two new cases since the Feb. 27 edition. To date, the court has agreed to hear 62 cases for the 2022-2023 term. SCOTUS dismissed one case after it was accepted. Three cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.”

The two new cases will be argued during the 2023-2024 term. To date, the court has agreed to hear 60 cases for its 2022-2023 term. One case was dismissed after it was accepted. The court has scheduled 59 of the cases for argument. One case has not been scheduled. We regret the error.

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on March 27 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out! 


Myj Saintyl compiled and edited this newsletter, with contributions from Sam Post.