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U.S. Supreme Court releases October 2021 argument calendar

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released the argument calendar for its October 2021 sitting on July 13. The court will begin hearing arguments for its 2021-2022 term on Oct. 4, with nine cases currently scheduled for oral argument during the month.

Cases scheduled for the October sitting include:

October 4

  1. Mississippi v. Tennessee
  2. Wooden v. United States

October 5

  1. Brown v. Davenport
  2. Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC

October 6

  1. United States v. Zubaydah

October 12

  1. Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, P.S.C.
  2. Hemphill v. New York

October 13

  1. United States v. Tsarnaev
  2. Babcock v. Saul

To date, SCOTUS has agreed to hear 31 cases during its 2021-2022 term. Of those, 20 have not yet been scheduled for argument, and two cases were dismissed. During its 2020-2021 term, the court agreed to hear oral arguments in 62 cases.

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Supreme Court cases, October term 2020-2021

History of the Supreme Court

Supreme Court of the United States



Ballotpedia releases reversal rate analysis for U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020-2021 term

During its October 2020 term, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued opinions in 69 cases. It reversed 55 lower court decisions (79.7%) and affirmed 14. This term’s reversal rate was 9 percentage points higher than the average rate of reversal since 2007 (70.7%). Sixteen cases originated from the 9th Circuit, the most from any circuit (including state courts). The 9th Circuit’s judgment was reversed in 15 of those cases.

When SCOTUS is asked to review a case, a petition for a writ of certiorari must be filed within 90 days of a lower court’s ruling. Each term, approximately 7,000 to 8,000 new petitions are filed with the court. During its weekly conference—a private meeting of the justices—the court reviews these petitions. Granting certiorari requires affirmative votes from four justices.

SCOTUS hears and reaches decisions in an average of 76 cases each year. There are two major decisions the court can make—affirm a lower court’s ruling or reverse it. Most cases originate from a lower court—any one of the 13 appeals circuits, state-level courts, or U.S. district courts. Original jurisdiction cases, which typically involve disputes between two states, cannot be considered affirmed or reversed since SCOTUS is the first and only court that rules in the case.

Since 2007, SCOTUS has released opinions in 1,062 cases. Of those, it reversed a lower court decision 751 times (70.7%) and affirmed a lower court decision 303 times (28.5%). During this time, SCOTUS has decided more cases originating from the 9th Circuit (207) than from any other circuit. The next-most is the 5th Circuit, which had 79 decisions. SCOTUS has overturned a greater number of cases originating from the 9th Circuit (164), but it overturned a higher percentage of cases originating in the 6th Circuit (81.1%, or 60 of 74 cases).

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SCOTUS issues two per curiam opinions, accepts new cases for review

Image of the front of the United States Supreme Court building.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued orders on June 28 from its weekly conference, issuing two per curiam opinions and granting review in two cases for its upcoming October 2021 term.

The following two cases were decided without argument in per curiam rulings. A per curiam opinion is unsigned and delivered by the court as a whole.

  • In the case Lombardo v. City of St. Louis, Missouri, a case involving excessive force precedent, SCOTUS vacated the lower court’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings in a 6-3 opinion. Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.
  • In Pakdel v. City and County of San Francisco, California, a case concerning takings claims, the court ruled unanimously to vacate the lower court’s ruling and remanded the case.

To date, the court has issued 61 opinions this term. Two cases were decided in one consolidated opinion. Nine cases were decided without argument. Five cases argued during the term have yet to be decided.

The court accepted two cases to be argued during the 2021-2022 term:

  • City of Austin, Texas v. Reagan National Advertising of Texas Inc. concerns the constitutionality of a municipal sign code. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
  • Patel v. Garland involves judicial review of non-discretionary determinations in immigration proceedings. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 21 cases during its 2021-2022 term. One case was dismissed after it was granted.

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U.S. Supreme Court issues rulings in three cases on June 25

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in three cases on June 25. One case—Transunion LLC v. Ramirez—was argued during the court’s March sitting, and two cases—Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association—were argued during the court’s April sitting.

Transunion LLC v. Ramirez concerned the standing of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit. The court reversed the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings in a 5-4 ruling, holding that members of the class-action lawsuit whose credit files were not provided to third-party businesses did not suffer a concrete harm from TransUnion’s actions and therefore lacked standing to sue under Article III. Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Justice Kagan filed a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor.

With a 6-3 opinion in Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court held that Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) are “Indian tribe[s]” under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA) and, as a result, are eligible for CARES Act funding. Justice Sonia Sotomayor authored the court’s majority opinion. Justice Neil Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan.

In the case of HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association, the court issued another 6-3 opinion, reversing the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit’s ruling. The lower court’s ruling held that a small refinery that previously received a hardship exemption may obtain an extension even if it experienced a lapse in exemption coverage during the previous year. Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the majority opinion. Justice Amy Coney Barrett filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

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U.S. Supreme Court rules Federal Housing Finance Agency has unconstitutional structure

In Collins v. Yellen, the U.S. Supreme Court held that restrictions on the president’s authority to remove the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) violated the separation of powers. In its June 23 decision, the court also rejected the argument that the FHFA actions at issue in the case went beyond the agency’s legal authority.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the court, writing that the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) blocks shareholders from challenging FHFA decisions in court since the agency acted within the bounds of its powers. However, he also wrote that “the Constitution prohibits even ‘modest restrictions’ on the President’s power to remove the head of an agency with a single top officer.” The end of the opinion says that FHFA officers were properly appointed but that lower courts should resolve whether the unconstitutional restriction on the president’s removal power inflicted harm that gives the shareholders a right to request relief in federal court.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion arguing that actions taken by federal officials are not necessarily unlawful just because a restriction on the president’s removal power over them is unlawful in the abstract.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote an opinion concurring in part in which he argued that the distinction between unconstitutionally _appointed_ officials and unconstitutionally _insulated_ officials should not prevent the court from ruling that an official acted without constitutional authority.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment and Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined part II of her opinion. Kagan agreed with the majority that the FHFA did not exceed the limits of its powers, but she only agreed to hold the agency structure unconstitutional out of respect for precedent. Part II of her opinion agreed with the majority that it would be right to undo the FHFA’s actions only if the president’s inability to fire the director affected those actions.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, joined by Justice Breyer. Sotomayor agreed with the parts of the majority opinion upholding the FHFA’s actions under the HERA and discussing potential remedies following remand of the case. Regarding the constitutional question, she argued that the court misapplied the precedent from Seila Law (2020). She wrote, “The Court has proved far too eager in recent years to insert itself into questions of agency structure best left to Congress.”

The court’s decision to hold the structure of the FHFA unconstitutional articulated limits on the kinds of administrative agencies Congress may create and reaffirmed the court’s decision in Seila Law. Each of the Justices’ opinions referenced arguments from the debate surrounding presidential control over administrative officials across the federal government.

The case was consolidated with Yellen v. Collins.

To learn more about the case or executive control of agencies see here:

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Link to the U.S. Supreme Court decision:



SCOTUS issues rulings in four cases

The U.S. Supreme Court issued rulings in four cases on June 23. With the addition of these cases, the court has issued 56 opinions for its 2020-2021 term. Two cases were decided in one consolidated opinion, and seven cases were decided without argument. Eight cases argued during the term have yet to be decided.

Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. was a case argued before the court on April 28. It concerned Title 42 of the United States Code and whether Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) applies to students’ off-campus speech. In an 8-1 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit’s ruling, holding that while public schools may have a special interest in regulating some off-campus student speech, the special interests offered by the Mahanoy Area School District were not sufficient to overcome B.L.’s interest in free expression in the case. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the opinion of the court and Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissent.

Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid was argued before the court on March 22. The case concerned the regulation of labor union organizers’ access to employees at worksites. In a 6-3 opinion, the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that California’s access regulation constitutes a per se physical taking. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the court’s majority opinion. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Lange v. California was a case argued before the court on February 24. It concerned the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In a unanimous ruling, the court vacated the California First District Court of Appeal’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that under the Fourth Amendment, the pursuit of a fleeing misdemeanor suspect does not always or categorically justify a warrantless entry into a home. Justice Kagan authored the court’s majority opinion.

Collins v. Yellen was a case argued before the court on December 9, 2020. It concerned the extent of the president’s removal powers and control of independent federal agencies. In a 7-2 decision, the court held that restrictions on the president’s authority to remove the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency violated the separation of powers. The court also rejected the argument that the FHFA exceeded its authority as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored corporations that deal in mortgages. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Sotomayor wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, joined by Justice Breyer.

Additional reading:



U.S. Supreme Court issues opinions in three cases on June 21

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued opinions in three cases on June 21 and released orders in pending cases from its June 17 conference. The court did not accept any new cases for the upcoming 2021-2022 October term.

United States v. Arthrex Inc. (Consolidated with Smith & Nephew Inc. v. Arthrex Inc. and Arthrex Inc. v. Smith & Nephew Inc.) concerned the appointment of administrative patent judges (APJs) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

In a 5-4 opinion, SCOTUS concluded that the unreviewable authority of APJs during inter partes review is incompatible with their appointment by the Secretary of Commerce to an inferior office. The lower court’s judgment was vacated and the case was remanded for further proceedings. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the court’s majority opinion. 

Goldman Sachs Group v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement Sys. concerned class action lawsuits pertaining to securities fraud and demonstrating the element of materiality in such cases. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

In an 8-1 opinion, SCOTUS held that (1) the generic nature of a misrepresentation is often important evidence of price impact that courts should consider at class certification, including in inflation-maintenance cases, and (2) defendants bear the burden of persuasion to prove a lack of price impact by a preponderance of the evidence at class certification. The lower court’s judgment was vacated and the case was remanded for further proceedings. Justice Amy Coney Barrett authored the court’s majority opinion. 

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) v. Alston (Consolidated with American Athletic Conference v. Alston) concerned federal antitrust law and the NCAA’s compensation rules. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the district court’s injunction was consistent with established antitrust principles, upholding the lower court’s ruling in the case. Justice Neil Gorsuch penned the majority opinion.

To date, the court has issued 52 opinions for the term. Two cases were decided in one consolidated opinion. Seven cases were decided without argument. Twelve cases argued this term have yet to be decided.

Additional reading:

United States v. Arthrex Inc.

National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement System

Supreme Court cases, October term 2021-2022



U.S. Supreme Court: Constitution requires more supervision over administrative patent judges from Patent and Trademark Office director

In United States v. Arthrex, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Appointments Clause does not allow administrative patent judges (APJs) to resolve patent disputes without more supervision from higher-level agency officials. In its June 21 decision, the court decided to sever the parts of the patent statute that prevented the director of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) from reviewing APJ decisions unilaterally.

Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the opinion of the court. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined parts I and II of his opinion, which held that the director of the PTO improperly lacked direct review power over APJ decisions, giving them power that conflicted with the “design of the Appointments Clause ‘to preserve political accountability.’”

Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined part III of Roberts’ opinion and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan concurred with the result. In part III, the court blocked enforcement of the patent statute at issue “to the extent that its requirements prevent the Director from reviewing final decisions rendered by APJs.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. He agreed with the majority opinion about the relation of the Appointments Clause to APJs but rejected the idea that the court had the power to sever (remove) portions of statutes when they violate the constitution.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Breyer agreed with parts I and II of Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissenting opinion but agreed to go along with the majority’s remedy in the case, to make Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions reviewable by the director of the PTO.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in parts I and II, arguing that the court ruled “for the very first time” that “Congress violated the Constitution by vesting the appointment of a federal officer in the head of a department.” Thomas argued that neither court precedent nor the Appointments Clause requires the U.S. Senate to confirm officers inferior to two officers below the president.

The court’s ruling preserved the authority of the secretary of commerce to appoint APJs while increasing the supervision powers of the director of the Patent and Trademark Office. Each of the Justices’ opinions referenced arguments from the debate surrounding presidential control over other administrative officials across the federal government.

The case was consolidated with Smith & Nephew Inc. v. Arthrex Inc. and Arthrex Inc. v. Smith & Nephew Inc.

Additional reading:

Article II, United States Constitution

Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group

Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board

Judicial review

Administrative state

Link to the U.S. Supreme Court decision:

United States v. Arthrex,



U.S. Supreme Court issues three rulings on June 17

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in three cases on June 17. Two of the cases, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and California v. Texas, were argued during the court’s November 2020 sitting. The third case, Nestlé USA v. Doe I, was argued during the court’s December 2020 sitting.

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia concerned the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. In a unanimous ruling, the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the City of Philadelphia violated Catholic Social Service’s (CSS) right to free exercise under the First Amendment by excluding CSS from the foster care program due to CSS’s refusal to certify same-sex couples. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the court’s majority opinion.

With a 7-2 opinion in the case California v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the ACA’s minimum essential coverage provision because they had not shown past or future injury fairly traceable to the defendants’ conduct enforcing the provision. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the majority opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

With an 8-1 opinion in the case Nestlé USA v. Doe I, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that to plead facts sufficient to support a domestic application of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), plaintiffs must allege more domestic conduct than general corporate activity common to most corporations. Justice Clarence Thomas announced the judgment of the court and delivered the opinion of the court with respect to Parts I and II, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, and an opinion with respect to Part III, in which Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joined. Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Alito joined as to Part I, and in which Justice Kavanaugh joined as to Part II. Justice Sotomayor filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Justices Breyer and Kagan joined. Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting opinion.

The court has issued 49 opinions this term. Two cases were decided in one consolidated opinion. Seven cases were decided without argument. Of the cases argued this term, 18 remain to be decided.

Additional reading:



U.S. Supreme Court decides three cases in two rulings on June 14

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in three cases on June 14. Two of the cases, Greer v. United States and United States v. Gary, were decided in one consolidated opinion, though they were argued separately. The cases were argued during the court’s April sitting. The third case, Terry v. United States, was argued on May 4.

Greer and Gary concerned plain-error review in felon-in-possession cases in light of SCOTUS’ ruling in Rehaif v. United States. Justice Brett Kavanaugh authored the majority opinions in both cases. Justice Sonia Sotomayor concurred in part and dissented in part from the judgment. 

In Greer, the court unanimously upheld the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit’s ruling, while in Gary, the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit’s judgment in an 8-1 ruling. In its consolidated opinion, the court held that in felon-in-possession cases, a Rehaif error is not a basis for plain-error relief unless the defendant first makes a sufficient argument or representation on appeal that they would have presented evidence at trial that they did not in fact know they were a felon.

In the case Terry v. United States, the court ruled unanimously that an offender convicted of a crack cocaine offense is eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act only if that prior conviction triggered a mandatory minimum sentence. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the court’s majority opinion. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion.

The court has issued 46 opinions this term. Seven cases were decided without argument. Of the cases argued this term, 18 remain to be decided.

Additional reading: