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SCOTUS issues rulings in three cases argued this term

On April 22, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) issued opinions in three cases argued during the 2020-2021 term.

Jones v. Mississippi originated from the Mississippi Court of Appeals and was argued before SCOTUS on November 3, 2020. The case concerned sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment without parole.

In a 6-3 vote, the court ruled that the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not require a juvenile to be found as permanently incorrigible before imposing a life sentence without parole. The term incorrigibility refers to when a juvenile does not accept an adult’s authority. The court upheld the Mississippi Court of Appeals’ judgment. Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the court’s majority opinion. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented and was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

Carr v. Saul (consolidated with Davis v. Saul) concerns claimants seeking disability benefits under the Social Security Act and whether they must raise any constitutional Appointments Clause challenges relating to the administrative law judges hearing their claims during administrative proceedings before seeking judicial review. The case was argued before SCOTUS on March 3, 2021. 

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion reversing the 10th Circuit ruling and remanding the case for further proceedings. The court held that Social Security disability claimants are not required to make Appointments Clause challenges at the agency level. Justice Sonia Sotomayor authored the court’s majority opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Justices Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett joined. Justice Stephen Breyer filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.

AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission was argued before the court on January 13, 2021, and concerned the Federal Trade Commission Act (“The Act”) and whether it authorizes the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to demand monetary restitution. 

SCOTUS issued a unanimous opinion reversing the 9th Circuit’s judgment and remanding the case for further proceedings. The court concluded that Section 13b of The Act does not authorize the FTC to seek equitable monetary relief like restitution or disgorgement, nor does it authorize a court to award such relief. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the majority opinion of the court.

As of this writing, the court has issued 30 opinions this term. Six cases were decided without argument.

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Reviewing SCOTUS’ 2020-2021 term so far

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020-2021 oral argument calendar is nearing its end, with 12 hours of oral arguments remaining to be heard during its April sitting and one hour of oral argument scheduled for its May sitting. 

From October through March, the court heard a total of 45 hours of oral arguments in 56 cases. Consolidated cases were allotted one hour total for oral arguments. The court’s argument schedule through March included:

  • October sitting
    • Time period: Oct. 5 through Oct. 14
    • Oral arguments heard: 10 hours in 12 cases
  • November sitting
    • Time period: Nov. 2 through Nov. 10
    • Oral arguments heard: 8 hours in 9 cases
  • December sitting
    • Time period: Nov. 30 through Dec. 9
    • Oral arguments heard: 10 hours in 12 cases
  • January sitting:
    • Time period: Jan. 11 through Jan. 19
    • Oral arguments heard: 5 hours in 6 cases
  • February sitting:
    • Time period: Feb. 22 through March 3
    • Oral arguments heard: 6 hours in 10 cases
  • March sitting:
    • Time period: March 22 through March 31
    • Oral arguments heard: 6 hours in 7 cases

During that time, all oral arguments were made remotely via teleconference with live audio streams provided during the argument sessions. The court instituted this practice in accordance with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, and it has announced the practice will continue through its April sitting. 

As of the end of March, the court had issued opinions in 25 cases this term. Five of those cases were decided without argument. The court generally announces the majority of its decisions in mid-June.

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SCOTUS back in session, to hear arguments next week

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is scheduled to begin its April argument sitting the week of April 19. The court will hear arguments via teleconference and will provide audio live streams to the public. The court has not heard arguments in person during the 2020 term. 

SCOTUS will hear arguments in seven cases for a total of six hours of oral argument: 

Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation (consolidated with Alaska Native Village Corporation Association v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation) originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The consolidated cases concern Alaska Native corporations and whether they qualify for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act payments.

Sanchez v. Mayorkasconcerns grants of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to non-citizens. The case emanated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

Greer v. United States concerns Title 18 of the United States Code, prohibiting a convicted felon from possessing a firearm and ammunition, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Rehaif v. United States. Greer originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

United States v. Gary concerns plain-error review of a court’s decision and the Supreme Court’s decision in Rehaif v. United States. This case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

City of San Antonio, Texas v. Hotels.com, L.P. originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and concerns Rule 39 of the Federal Rules for Appellate Procedure and a class-action lawsuit between a class of 173 Texas municipalities and several online travel companies. 

Minerva Surgical Inc. v. Hologic Inc. concerns patent infringement claims and the doctrine of assignor estoppel. The doctrine of assignor estoppel prevents a party that assigns a patent to a new party from later challenging the validity of that patent in U.S. district court. Minerva originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

SCOTUS will next hear six hours of oral argument in seven cases from April 26 through April 28. To date, the court has scheduled one case, Terry v. United States, to be argued during the May sitting on May 4. The May sitting is expected to be the final argument session of the term.

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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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