Welcome to the April 24 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.
A great poet once wrote that parting is such sweet sorrow. We can’t help but ponder these words as we near the end of our 2022-2023 argument calendar. But we’re determined to go out with a bang as there are a number of arguments to discuss this week. So dry your tears, dear readers, and let’s gavel in.
Follow Ballotpedia on Twitter or subscribe to the Daily Brew for the latest news and analysis.
We #SCOTUS and you can, too!
Upcoming SCOTUS dates
Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:
- April 24, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
- April 25, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
- April 26, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
- April 28, 2023: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
SCOTUS has accepted one new case to its merits docket since our April 17 issue. To date, the court has agreed to hear five cases for its 2023-2024 term.
Click the links below to learn more about this case:
- Culley v. Marshall originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and concerns the Due Process Clause.
The Supreme Court will hear four arguments this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.
Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
April 24, 2023
- Dupree v. Younger concerns post-trial motions and the procedure for an appellate court to review an issue.
- A post-trial motion is when a party requests for a court to make a decision without a trial.
- The question presented: “Whether to preserve the issue for appellate review a party must reassert in a post-trial motion a purely legal issue rejected at summary judgment.”
- Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. Coughlin concerns the Bankruptcy Code.
- The question presented: “Whether the Bankruptcy Code expresses unequivocally Congress’s intent to abrogate the sovereign immunity of Indian tribes.”
April 25, 2023
- Yegiazaryan v. Smagin (Consolidated with CMB Monaco v. Smagin) concerns the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
- The question presented for Yegiazaryan v. Smagin: “Does a foreign plaintiff state a cognizable civil RICO claim when it suffers an injury to intangible property, and if so, under what circumstances.”
- The question presented for CMB Monaco v. Smagin: “Whether a foreign plaintiff with no alleged connection to the United States may nevertheless allege a “domestic” injury under RJR Nabisco sufficient to maintain a RICO action based only on injury to intangible property.”
- For more information on RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. European Cmty, click here.
April 26, 2023
- Tyler v. Hennepin County, Minnesota concerns the Fifth and Eighth Amendments.
- The questions presented: “Whether taking and selling a home to satisfy a debt to the government, and keeping the surplus value as a windfall, violates the Takings Clause?
“2. Whether the forfeiture of property worth far more than needed to satisfy a debt plus, interest, penalties, and costs, is a fine within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment?”
In its October 2022 term, SCOTUS heard arguments in 60 cases during its. One case was dismissed. The court has scheduled 59 of the cases for argument. One case was removed from the argument calendar.
SCOTUS has ruled on four cases since our April 17 edition. The court has issued rulings in 14 cases so far this term.
Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS ruled on since our last edition:
April 18, 2023
New York v. New Jersey was argued before the court on March 1, 2023.
The case concerns New York and New Jersey’s Waterfront Commission Compact and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.
The outcome: In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that despite opposition from the state of New York, New Jersey is allowed to unilaterally withdraw from the 1953 Waterfront Commission Compact. Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the opinion of the Court.
April 19, 2023
MOAC Mall Holdings LLC v. Transform Holdco LLC was argued before the court on Dec. 5, 2022.
The case concerns Section 363(m) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and whether it limits appellate courts’ jurisdiction over certain cases that involve a sale order.
The outcome: The court vacated and remanded the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in a 9-0 ruling. The Supreme Court held that a district court has the authority to review the Mall of America’s petition which challenged Sears’ transfer of a lease for a space in the Mall of America to Transform Holdco LLC. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson delivered the majority opinion.
- To remand means to return a case or claim to a lower court for additional proceedings.
- To vacate means to void, cancel, nullify, or invalidate a verdict or judgment of a court.
Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States was argued before the court on Jan. 17, 2023.
The case concerns whether U.S. district courts have the authority to criminally prosecute foreign states and their instrumentalities.
The outcome: In a unanimous opinion, the court affirmed in part, and vacated and remanded in part, the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Supreme Court held that the district court has the authority to rule on this criminal case under 18 U.S.C. § 3231. The Court also affirmed the circuit court’s ruling but on different grounds than the circuit court. SCOTUS held that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not grant Turkiye Halk Bankasi (Halkbank) immunity because FSIA does not apply to criminal proceedings. Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the opinion of the Court. Justice Neil Gorsuch concurred in part and dissented in part and Justice Samuel Alito joined his opinion.
Reed v. Goertz was argued before the court on Oct. 11, 2022.
The case: Rodney Reed was convicted of murdering Stacey Sites in 1998. Reed was sentenced to death. In 2014, Reed filed an appeal in Texas state court for DNA testing. After his motion was denied, Reed continued to file appeals in the Texas judicial system. The courts denied his appeal each time. Reed then filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court claiming that the Texas courts had violated his constitutional rights. The district court dismissed Reed’s lawsuit. On appeal, the 5th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision. Reed petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review.
The outcome: The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in a 6-3 ruling, holding that the statute of limitations on post-conviction DNA testing begins when litigation ends. Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion. Justice Samuel Alito also filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Federal court action
President Joe Biden has announced no new Article III nominees since our April 17 edition.
The president has announced 160 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 reported seven new nominees out of committee since our April 17 edition.
- Mónica Ramírez Almadani, to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- Jeffrey Cummings, to the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- Michael Farbiarz, to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
- Wesley L. Hsu, to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- LaShonda A. Hunt, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- Robert Kirsch, to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
- Orelia Merchant, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
The U.S. Senate has confirmed no new nominees since our previous edition.
As of April 1, 2023, the Senate had confirmed 119 of President Biden’s Article III judicial nominees—87 district court judges, 31 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice—since his inauguration on January 20, 2021. To review a complete list of Biden’s confirmed nominees, click here.
The federal judiciary currently has 78 vacancies, 76 of which are for lifetime Article III judgeships. As of publication, there were 39 pending nominations.
According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, there were 26 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 Joe 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.
We’ll be back on May 8th with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out!
Myj Saintyl compiled and edited this newsletter, with contributions from Sam Post.