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Kate Carsella

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

SCOTUS issues opinion in case concerning ACCA

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a unanimous ruling in the case Wooden v. United States on March 7. The case was argued before the court on Oct. 4. 

The court reversed theSixth Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that William Wooden’s 10 offenses did not occur on different occasions and count as one prior conviction under theArmed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). Click here for more information about the ruling.

JusticeElena Kagan delivered the majority opinion of the court. Chief JusticeJohn Roberts and JusticesStephen Breyer,Sonia Sotomayor, andBrett Kavanaugh joined the opinion in full. JusticesClarence Thomas,Samuel Alito, andAmy Coney Barrett joined all but Part II-B. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion. JusticeNeil Gorsuch filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, joined by Justice Sotomayor as to Part II, III, and IV. Justice Kavanaugh filed a concurring opinion. Justice Barrett filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, joined by Justice Thomas.

To date, the court has issued decisions in 14 cases this term. Between 2007 and 2020, SCOTUS released opinions in 1,062 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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SCOTUS issues opinions in two cases

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in two cases on March 3: United States v. Zubaydah and Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, P.S.C.

In Zubaydah, the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling in a 7-2 vote and remanded the case for further proceedings. SCOTUS held that the 9th Circuit erred by ruling that state-secrets privilege did not apply to information that could confirm or deny the existence of a CIA detention site in Poland in regard to Zubaydah’s discovery application. Justice Stephen Breyer authored the court’s majority opinion. Justice Neil Gorsuch dissented, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Click here for more information about the ruling. 

In Cameron, the court ruled 8-1 to reverse the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the 6th Circuit erred in denying Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s motion to intervene and defend Kentucky House Bill 454. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the majority opinion, and Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion. Click here for more information about the ruling. 

To date, the court has issued decisions in 11 cases this term. Between 2007 and 2020, SCOTUS released opinions in 1,062 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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Federal judicial nomination, confirmations in first week of February

The U.S. Senate confirmed three of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees on Feb. 1 to lifetime Article III judgeships on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio:

Biden nominated Stephanie Dawkins Davis to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Feb. 2 to replace Judge Helene White, who will assume senior status upon the confirmation of her successor. Currently, Davis is a judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She was nominated to that court by President Donald Trump (R) and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2019. 

Since taking office, Biden has nominated 82 individuals to federal judgeships on Article III courts. To date, 45 of the nominees have been confirmed. 

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SCOTUS accepts cases for 2021-2022 term

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Jan. 14 accepted five cases for argument during the 2021-2022 term:

As of this writing, the court has agreed to hear 64 cases during the term. Four cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Sixteen cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

To date, the court has issued decisions in six cases. Two cases were decided without argument. Between 2007 and 2020, SCOTUS released opinions in 1,062 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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Nominee confirmed to Ninth Circuit

The U.S. Senate confirmed one of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to a lifetime Article III judgeship on Jan. 12:

  1. Gabriel Sanchez, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, by a vote of 52-47

The Ninth Circuit is one of 13 U.S. courts of appeal. They are the intermediate appellate courts of the federal court system.

Sanchez was nominated to the Ninth Circuit on Sept. 20 to replace Judge Marsha Berzon, who is scheduled to assume senior status. Sanchez was rated Well Qualified by the American Bar Association.

To date, 41 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed. For historical comparison since 1981, the following list shows the date by which the past six presidents had 41 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:

  1. President Donald Trump (R) – June 5, 2018
  2. President Barack Obama (D) – Aug. 5, 2010
  3. President George W. Bush (R) – March 15, 2002
  4. President Bill Clinton (D) – March 10, 1994
  5. President George H.W. Bush (R) – May 11, 1990
  6. President Ronald Reagan (R) – Dec. 16, 1981

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SCOTUS begins January argument session

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) began its latest sitting of the 2021-2022 term on Jan. 10. The court is hearing arguments in person and providing audio livestreams of arguments.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor is participating remotely from her office as a precaution related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Jan. 10

  1. Gallardo v. Marstiller concerns tort claims and state Medicaid program reimbursement.

Jan. 11

  1. Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez and Garland v. Gonzalez concern non-citizens’ right to a bond hearing in immigration detention.

Jan. 12

  1. Boechler, P.C. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue concerns the time limit to file petitions with the U.S. Tax Court to review Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determinations.

Next week, SCOTUS will hear arguments in four cases.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 59 cases this term. Four cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Eleven cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

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Upcoming state supreme court vacancy in New Jersey

New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina is scheduled to retire from the court on Feb. 15 upon reaching the state’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years old. Fernandez-Vina’s replacement will be Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) third nominee to the seven-member supreme court. 

In New Jersey, state supreme court justices are selected through direct gubernatorial appointment. Justices are appointed directly by the governor without the use of a nominating commission. As of Jan. 4, there are five states that use this selection method. To read more about the gubernatorial appointment of judges, click here.

Justice Fernandez-Vina joined the court on Nov. 19, 2013, following an appointment by Gov. Chris Christie (R). Before serving on the state supreme court, Fernandez-Vina served as a legal associate and as a partner with private law firms.

He received a B.A. in history from Widener University in 1974 and a J.D. from Rutgers University in 1978. After law school, Fernandez-Vina clerked for New Jersey Superior Court Judge E. Stevenson Fluharty.

In 2022, there are four supreme court vacancies pending in three of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements.

Three of the vacancies—in Maryland and Wyoming—are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. One vacancy—in New Jersey—is in a state where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement.

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SCOTUS releases February argument calendar

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released its February argument calendar for the 2021-2022 term on Dec. 17. The court scheduled seven cases for arguments on the merits between Feb. 22 and March 2, including two cases consolidated for one hour of oral argument.

Arguments will be conducted in person, although the court remains closed to the public, according to its COVID-19 safety protocols. Argument audio will be streamed live to the public. The audio files and argument transcripts for cases will be posted on the Court’s website following oral argument each day.

Click the links below to learn more about the cases:

Feb. 22

  1. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas
  2. Denezpi v. United States

Feb. 23

  1. Arizona v. City and County of San Francisco, California

Feb. 28

  1. West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (Consolidated with North American Coal Corporation v. Environmental Protection Agency, Westmoreland Mining Holdings v. Environmental Protection Agency, and North Dakota v. Environmental Protection Agency)

March 1

  1. Ruan v. United States (Consolidated with Kahn v. United States)
  2. Marietta Memorial Hospital Employee Health Benefit Plan v. DaVita, Inc.

March 2

  1. Egbert v. Boule

To date, the court has granted review in 56 cases during the term. Four cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Eight cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

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U.S. Senate confirms two nominees to Article III judgeships

The U.S. Senate confirmed two of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to lifetime Article III judgeships on Dec. 15:

To date, 31 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed. For historical comparison since 1981, the following list shows the date by which the past six presidents had 31 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:

Also on Dec. 15, President Biden announced his intent to nominate nine individuals to Article III judgeships and three individuals to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

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Lucy Koh confirmed to U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

The U.S. Senate confirmed one of President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees to a lifetime Article III judgeship on Dec. 13:

  1. Lucy Koh, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, by a vote of 50-45

The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is one of 13 U.S. courts of appeal. They are the intermediate appellate courts of the federal court system.

Koh was nominated to the 9th Circuit on Sept. 20 to replace Judge Richard A. Paez, who is scheduled to assume senior status. Koh was rated Well Qualified by the American Bar Association.

To date, 29 of Biden’s appointees have been confirmed. For historical comparison since 1981, the following list shows the date by which the past six presidents had 29 Article III judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate:

  1. President Donald Trump (R) – March 6, 2018
  2. President Barack Obama (D) – June 7, 2010
  3. President George W. Bush (R) – Jan. 25, 2002
  4. President Bill Clinton (D) – Feb. 10, 1994
  5. President George H.W. Bush (R) – April 27, 1990
  6. President Ronald Reagan (R) – Nov. 24, 1981

As of this writing, 15 Article III nominees are awaiting a confirmation vote from the U.S Senate, nine nominees are awaiting a Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance their nominations to the full Senate, and nine nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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