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SCOTUS issues opinion, accepts case

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on April 5 issued an opinion in the case Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc. and accepted Brown v. Davenport for argument in October 2021.

In Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings by a 6-2 vote. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Samuel Alito. Justice Amy Coney Barrett took no part in the consideration or decision of the case since she had not joined the court at the time of the case’s oral argument in October 2020. 

The case was brought because Google copied verbatim portions of copyrighted code from 37 Java API packages and the packages’ structure, sequence, and organization, and wrote its own, customized implementing code for use with mobile devices. In its ruling, SCOTUS held that Google’s use of the programming code constituted a fair use of that material under copyright law.

With the Google ruling, all cases that were argued during the 2020 term’s October sitting have been decided. To date, the court has issued opinions in 26 cases this term. Five cases were decided without argument.

SCOTUS accepted the case Brown v. Davenport for argument during its upcoming term. The case concerns the standard necessary to grant federal habeas relief to a person held in state custody. 

The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Throughout his 2008 trial for first-degree murder, Ervine Davenport was visibly shackled. Davenport was found guilty. Davenport challenged his conviction, arguing that being in shackles contributed to his conviction. The state of Michigan found that the shackling did not affect the verdict. Davenport filed a federal habeas corpus petition with the 6th Circuit. The court granted a conditional habeas writ, concluding that Michigan was not able to show that Davenport’s shackling did not have a “substantial and injurious effect or influence in determining the jury’s verdict.” Mike Brown, as the acting warden of the prison where Davenport is being held, petitioned for an en banc review by the entire 16-judge 6th Circuit. The request was denied, and he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing cases for the 2021-2022 term on Oct. 4. The court’s yearly term begins on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October the following year. The court generally releases the majority of its decisions in mid-June. As of April 5, the court had agreed to hear 10 cases during its 2021-2022 term.

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Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court rules that FCC changes to broadcast ownership regulations passed the arbitrary-or-capricious test

On April 1, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in _FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project_, a case about how courts should review the actions administrative agencies take. The court ruled unanimously that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) arbitrary-or-capricious test and that the agency properly considered the effects of its orders when it changed certain broadcast ownership rules in 2017.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the opinion of the court, writing, “Judicial review under [the arbitrary-or-capricious] standard is deferential, and a court may not substitute its own policy judgment for that of the agency. A court simply ensures that the agency has acted within a zone of reasonableness and, in particular, has reasonably considered the relevant issues and reasonably explained the decision.”

The arbitrary-or-capricious test is a legal standard of review used by judges to assess the actions of administrative agencies. It was originally defined in a provision of the 1946 APA that instructs courts reviewing agency actions to invalidate any that they find to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”

Kavanaugh held that the 2017 FCC order was reasonable and reasonably explained and that the APA requires no more from agencies.

The case came out of 17 years of attempts by the FCC to change regulations that govern ownership of broadcast media and involved whether the FCC adequately considered how its rule changes would affect broadcast media firms owned by women or minorities.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion arguing that federal courts do not have legal authority to require the FCC to consider ownership diversity.

To learn more about the case or the arbitrary-or-capricious test, see here:

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Text of the SCOTUS decision:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-1231_i425.pdf



U.S. Supreme Court issues rulings in three cases

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued opinions in three cases argued during the 2020-2021 term on April 1. 

Florida v. Georgia

The case came to the court under its original jurisdiction over disputes between states and concerned the apportionment of waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. In 2013, Florida filed a complaint against Georgia, alleging that Georgia’s water use was inequitable. Florida v. Georgia was first argued before SCOTUS on Jan. 8, 2018, during the October 2017 term. On June 27, 2018, the court sent the case back to the lower court for reconsideration in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Stephen Breyer.

The case’s second argument took place this term on Feb. 22, 2021. In a unanimous ruling, the court overruled Florida’s exceptions to the Special Master’s Report and dismissed the case. Justice Amy Coney Barrett delivered the majority opinion of the court.

FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project (consolidated with National Association of Broadcasters v. Prometheus Radio Project)

These consolidated cases originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit and were argued before SCOTUS on Jan. 19, 2021. The cases involve whether the FCC adequately considered how its rule changes would affect broadcast media firms owned by women or minorities, and asked SCOTUS whether the 3rd Circuit was right to block some of the FCC’s choices on those grounds.

In a 9-0 decision, the court reversed the 3rd Circuit’s judgment, holding that the FCC’s rule changes were not arbitrary or capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion.

Facebook v. Duguid

This case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and concerned the definition of an automated telephone dialing system (ATDS) under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The case was argued before SCOTUS on Dec. 8, 2020.

Social media website Facebook allows users to receive text message alerts when their accounts are accessed from unknown devices or browsers. Noah Duguid did not have a Facebook account and never consented to receive those alerts. He sued Facebook after receiving multiple text messages and attempting to opt-out. Duguid claimed Facebook violated the TCPA’s ban on calling or sending text messages to cell phones using an ATDS. The U.S. district court dismissed the lawsuit. On appeal, the 9th Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling.

In a unanimous opinion, SCOTUS reversed the 9th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that a device must be able to store or produce a telephone number using a random or sequential number generator in order to be considered an automated telephone dialing system under the TCPA. Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Samuel Alito filed a concurring opinion.

To date, the court has issued opinions in 25 cases this term. Five cases were decided without argument. 

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SCOTUS concludes March sitting

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) concluded its March sitting for its 2020-2021 term on March 31. This sitting ran from March 22 through March 31, during which time the court heard six hours of oral argument. The cases argued before SCOTUS during its March sitting included:

• March 22: Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid

• March 23: United States v. Cooley

• March 24: Caniglia v. Strom

• March 29: Goldman Sachs Group Inc. v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement System

• March 30: TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez

• March 31: National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston (consolidated with American Athletic Conference v. Alston)

The court is currently slated to hear 12 hours of oral argument during its April sitting scheduled from April 19 through April 28, and one hour of oral argument during its May sitting on May 4. SCOTUS began hearing cases for the 2020-2021 term on October 5, 2020. Its yearly term begins on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October the following year. The court generally releases the majority of its decisions in mid-June.

As of March 29, 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. Five cases were removed from the argument calendar and one case was postponed.

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SCOTUS accepts case, issues opinion

On March 29, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released orders from its conference that was held on Friday, March 26. The court issued an opinion in one case that was not argued before the court and accepted one case to its merits docket for the 2021-2022 term.

The court accepted and issued a per curiam ruling in the case Mays v. Hines, which originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Per curiam decisions are unsigned. The court reversed the 6th Circuit’s ruling that granted a new trial to Anthony Hines, who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to the death penalty. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion.

As of March 29, the court had issued opinions in 22 cases for the 2020-2021 team. Five cases were decided without argument.

SCOTUS accepted a new case to be argued during the upcoming October Term for 2021-2022, Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, P.S.C. The case originated in the 6th Circuit and concerns whether a state official may intervene in a case to defend a state law that has been invalidated by a federal circuit court and Fourteenth Amendment protections related to a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion procedure. 

As of March 29, the court had agreed to hear 11 cases during the next term.

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SCOTUS issues opinions in cases argued last October

The U.S. Supreme Court issued opinions on March 25 in cases argued at the start of the 2020 term. The only remaining undecided case from the October sitting is Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc.

Consolidated cases Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court and Ford Motor Company v. Bandemer originated from the Montana and Minnesota Supreme Courts, respectively, and concerned state court jurisdiction related to the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause.

In an 8-0 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the state courts’ rulings, holding that the connection between the plaintiffs’ liability claims in the two cases and Ford’s activities in both states allowed the state courts to have jurisdiction in the cases. Justice Elena Kagan delivered the majority opinion of the court, her first of the term. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch filed concurring opinions. Justice Clarence Thomas joined in Gorsuch’s concurrence. Justice Amy Coney Barrett took no part in the consideration or decision of the case since the case was argued prior to her joining the court.

Torres v. Madrid concerned a claim of excessive force against police officers and whether the use of physical force to restrain a person constitutes a seizure under the Fourth Amendment. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. 

In a 5-3 opinion, the court vacated the 10th Circuit’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings, ruling that using physical force on an individual with the intent to restrain is a seizure, even if the individual does not submit and is not subdued. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Neil Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Justice Amy Coney Barrett took no part in the consideration or decision of the case. 

To date, the court has issued opinions in 21 cases this term. Four cases were decided without argument.

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SCOTUS to hold argument session in May

The U.S. Supreme Court on March 25 scheduled one case for argument on May 4, the second year in a row the court will hear arguments in May. During the 2019-2020 term, the court heard 13 cases in May.

The case, Terry v. United States, was originally scheduled for argument on April 20. The Biden administration had changed the U.S. Department of Justice’s position in the case after the case was scheduled, so the court appointed a lawyer to argue in place of the U.S. government and rescheduled the oral argument.

Terry is the only case currently scheduled for the May sitting. The court is scheduled to hear 14 cases during its April sitting, set to begin on April 19.

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SCOTUS grants review in two cases for its 2021-2022 term

On March 22, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted two cases for review during its 2021-2022 term. With the addition of these two cases, the court had agreed to hear 10 cases during the term, which is scheduled to begin on October 4, 2021. 

United States v. Tsarnaev concerns the death penalty conviction of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of committing acts of domestic terrorism at the 2013 Boston Marathon. The questions presented to the court are: “1. Whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that respondent’s capital sentences must be vacated on the ground that the district court, during its 21-day voir dire, did not ask each prospective juror for a specific accounting of the pretrial media coverage that he or she had read, heard, or seen about respondent’s case; 2. Whether the district court committed reversible error at the penalty phase of respondent’s trial by excluding evidence that respondent’s older brother was allegedly involved in different crimes two years before the offenses for which respondent was convicted.” Tsarnaev originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit.

Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC concerns whether a private commercial arbitral tribunal is a foreign or international tribunal within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. §1782(a). The question presented to the court is, “Whether the discretion granted to district courts in 28 U.S.C. §1782(a) to render assistance in gathering evidence for use in ‘a foreign or international tribunal’ encompasses private commercial arbitral tribunals, as the Fourth and Sixth Circuits have held, or excludes such tribunals without expressing an exclusionary intent, as the Second, Fifth, and, in the case below, the Seventh Circuit, have held.” Servotronics originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing oral arguments as part of its 2020-2021 term. Its March sitting began on March 22 and will conclude on March 31, with the court hearing six hours of oral argument during that period. As of March 8, 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. Also as of March 8, the court had issued opinions in 19 cases this term. Four cases were decided without argument.

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U.S. Supreme Court begins March argument sitting

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) begins its March sitting. The court will hear cases remotely and provide audio livestreams of oral argument, continuing its safety protocols implemented at the start of the term in accordance with public health guidance related to COVID-19. 

This week, SCOTUS will hear three hours of oral argument in three cases:

• March 22: Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid came to the court from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The case concerns the regulations governing labor union organizers’ access to employees at worksites.

• March 23: United States v. Cooley originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and concerns the scope of law enforcement officers’ search-and-seizure authority.

• March 24: Caniglia v. Strom concerns the scope of police officers’ authority for search and seizure and as community caretakers. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit. 

Next week, SCOTUS will hear three hours of oral argument in four cases. After the March sitting, the court is scheduled to hear arguments in 15 cases before the end of the term. To date, the court has heard arguments in 50 cases. 

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SCOTUS Public Information Office makes COVID-related announcements

On March 19, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Public Information Office announced that the court will hear arguments remotely and provide live audio streams to the public during its upcoming April argument session. The decision was made in accordance with public health guidance in response to COVID-19. To date, all arguments have been conducted remotely this term. 

The court is scheduled to hear 12 hours of oral argument in 14 cases between April 19 and April 28. One case originally scheduled for argument during the April sitting, Terry v. United States, has been postponed.

On March 5, the court’s Public Information Office said that all of the justices had been fully vaccinated. 

On March 19, the court held its first in-person conference since last spring. Some of the justices participated remotely.

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