TagSupreme Court

SCOTUS accepts two cases to 2021-2022 merits docket

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Oct. 18 accepted two cases for argument during the 2021-2022 term:

  1. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas, originating from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit
  2. Denezpi v. United States, originating from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Both cases concern the sovereign powers of Native American tribal nations. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo involves the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama and Coushatta Indian Tribes of Texas Restoration Act (1987), the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) (1988), and gaming regulation on tribal lands. Denezpi involves the Court of Indian Offenses’ jurisdiction and the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s double jeopardy clause, which prohibits an individual from being prosecuted for the same crime twice.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 41 cases during the term. Three cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Ten cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.

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SCOTUS continues October sitting for 2021-2022 term

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will continue and conclude its first argument sitting of the2021-2022 term this week. The court is hearing arguments in person for the first time since March 2020 and is providing a livestream of argument audio.

This week,SCOTUS will hear arguments in four cases for a total of four hours and five minutes of oral argument. The case Thompson v. Clark is scheduled for 65 minutes of argument.

Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

Oct. 12

  • Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, P.S.C. concerns whether a state official may intervene in a case to defend an invalidated state law. The Kentucky law generally banned the dilation and evacuation abortion method used in the second trimester of pregnancy. The law was struck down in U.S. district court.
  • Thompson v. Clark concerns SCOTUS’ favorable termination rule established in Heck v. Humphrey (1994). The favorable termination rule established that before a plaintiff can sue alleging an unconstitutional conviction or imprisonment, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the earlier criminal or appellate proceedings ultimately ended favorably for the plaintiff, indicating their innocence.

Oct. 13

  • United States v. Tsarnaev concerns the death penalty convictions of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for 30 criminal offenses related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
  • Babcock v. Kijakazi concerns the requirements and interpretation of uniformed service for civil service pension payment plans under the Social Security Act.

The court’s November argument sitting is scheduled to begin on Nov. 1 and conclude on Nov. 10. The court will hear five hours of oral argument during the first week and four during the second week of the session.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 39 cases this term. Three cases were dismissed after they were granted. Eight cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

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U.S. Supreme Court releases December argument calendar

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Sept. 20 released the December argument calendar for the 2021-2022 term, scheduling nine cases for argument. The court will hear nine hours of oral argument between Nov. 29 and Dec. 8. 

Click the links below to learn more about the cases:

Nov. 29

  1. Becerra v. Empire Health Foundation concerns the administrative state and involves whether anadministrative agency may issue arule based on an interpretation of a statute that a federal court concluded was not open to interpretation.

Nov. 30

  1. Cummings v. Premier Rehab concerns federal disability laws and whether they allow the petitioner to be awarded compensatory damages for emotional distress.
  2. American Hospital Association v. Becerra concerns the administrative state and involves whether theChevron deference doctrine permits theU.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reduce the reimbursement rate the agency pays to certain hospitals for treating Medicare patients.

Dec. 1

  1. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization concerns a direct challenge to the Supreme Court’s rulings in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and the constitutionality of a Mississippi state law prohibiting abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy except in cases of medical emergencies or fetal abnormalities.

Dec. 6

  1. Patel v. Garland concerns the jurisdiction of federal courts to hear appeals in immigration proceedings specifically related to judgments allowing the adjustment of immigration status from nonimmigrant to permanent resident.
  2. Hughes v. Northwestern University concerns Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) defined-contribution retirement plans.

Dec. 7

  1. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. v. Doe concerns disability discrimination claims under the Rehabilitation and Affordable Care Acts.
  2. United States v. Taylor concerns theHobbs Act and the definition of a crime of violence under the law.

Dec. 8

  1. Carson v. Makin concerns public education funding, religious education, and the Supreme Court’s decision inEspinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (2020).

To date, the court has granted review in 34 cases during the upcoming term. Five cases have not yet been scheduled for argument. Two cases were dismissed after they were accepted. 

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SCOTUS announces it will hear oral arguments in person

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) announced on Sept. 8 that it would hear oral arguments in person for the first time since March 4, 2020, for its October, November, and December sittings.

However, the court will not be open to the public, in accordance with its current precautions in response to COVID-19. Argument audio will be streamed live to the public, as was the case during the 2020-2021 term. The audio files and argument transcripts for cases will be posted on the Court’s website following oral argument each day.

The Supreme Court’s October sitting is scheduled to begin on October 4. Nine cases have been scheduled for a total of nine hours of oral argument. 

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

As of Sept. 8, the court had agreed to hear 33 cases during the term. Of those, 13 cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

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Update: SCOTUS issues 5-4 ruling rejecting emergency appeal to Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a 5-4 ruling on Sept. 1, denying a request to block enforcement of a Texas law banning abortion procedures after six weeks of pregnancy and authorizing private civil right of action related to violations of the law. The latter authorization allows private citizens to bring civil actions against individuals for violating the law or aiding in violation of the law. The bill, S.B. 8, was signed into law on May 19 by Governor Greg Abbott (R). 

The ruling came after the court on Aug. 31 did not respond to the emergency appeal filed by a group of abortion providers seeking to block enforcement of the law. The appellants argued that the law violated the Supreme Court’s rulings in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), establishing the constitutional right to have an abortion before the point of fetal viability, approximately 24 weeks into a pregnancy. 

The emergency appeal was submitted through the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to Justice Samuel Alito, the justice assigned to review emergency appeals originating from the circuit court. As the circuit justice, Alito referred the matter to the full court for consideration.

In the unsigned opinion from the Sept. 1 ruling, the court stated: “The applicants now before us have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue. But their application also presents complex and novel antecedent procedural questions on which they have not carried their burden.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan would have granted the application to stop the law’s enforcement, and each filed dissenting opinions.

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SCOTUS declines to act in emergency appeal to Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy

The Supreme Court of the United States on Aug. 31 did not respond to an emergency appeal filed by a group of abortion providers seeking to block enforcement of a Texas law banning abortion procedures after six weeks of pregnancy and authorizing private civil right of action related to violations of the law. The latter authorization allows private citizens to bring civil actions against individuals for violating the law or aiding in violation of the law. The bill, Senate Bill 8, was signed into law on May 19 by Gov. Greg Abbott (R). 

The appellants argued that the law violated the Supreme Court’s rulings in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), establishing the constitutional right to have an abortion before the point of fetal viability, approximately 24 weeks into a pregnancy. The emergency appeal was submitted through the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to Justice Samuel Alito, the justice assigned to review emergency appeals originating from the circuit court. As the circuit justice, Alito was authorized to respond to the request himself or refer the matter to the full court for consideration.

Click here to review the Supreme Court justices’ circuit assignments.

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SCOTUS roundup: noteworthy court announcements in August 2021

Although the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is in its summer recess, the court has issued orders and opinions emanating from its emergency docket this month. The emergency docket refers to orders and opinions issued in cases that are not part of the court’s merits docket of cases that are scheduled for argument.

Aug. 12

  1. Justice Barrett denies request related to university vaccine requirement: JusticeAmy Coney Barrett denied a request for an application for injunctive relief filed by a group of students at Indiana University. Injunctive relief, also known as an injunction, is a judicial order stopping a party from performing certain actions, or requiring an action to be performed in a specific manner. The application requested that the court block the school’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students. The request was denied without being referred to the full court.
  2. Court issues ruling on state eviction moratorium: In a 6-3per curiam ruling, SCOTUS granted an injunction filed by a group of landlords in New York. The application requested that the court lift part of a state moratorium on residential evictions–Part A of the COVID Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA)–established in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. JusticeStephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by JusticesSonia Sotomayor andElena Kagan.

Aug. 20

  1. Justice Barrett denies request for injunction of groundbreaking for Obama presidential library: JusticeAmy Coney Barrett denied a request for an injunction filed by Protect Our Parks, Inc. The application requested that the court block the groundbreaking construction and excavation related to building the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park in Chicago, Illinois. The request was denied without being referred to the full court.

Aug. 24

  1. Court rejects application for stay of Trump administration “remain in Mexico” policy: SCOTUS denied the Biden administration’s application for a stay, or a halt, of aU.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas injunction requiring the reinstatement of a Trump administration program referred to as the “remain in Mexico” policy. The policy requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting a U.S. immigration court hearing. The order stated that JusticesStephen Breyer,Sonia Sotomayor, andElena Kagan would have granted the application.

Aug. 26

  1. Court issues ruling on federal eviction moratorium: In a 6-3per curiam ruling, SCOTUS granted an application, filed by the Alabama Association of REALTORS et al, to vacate the nationwide moratorium on evictions of tenants living in a county experiencing substantial or high levels of COVID–19 transmission and who make declarations of financial need. The moratorium was imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the unsigned opinion, the court stated, “If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it. The application to vacate stay presented to the Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is granted.” Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by JusticesSonia Sotomayor andElena Kagan.

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Union Station: Union dues lawsuit heads to Supreme Court

Ninth Circuit grants plaintiffs’ request to uphold district court dismissal of union dues lawsuit

On Aug. 16, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted two Alaska state employees’ request to uphold a district court’s dismissal of their lawsuit so they can appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court proceedings had been on hold since September 2020, awaiting the resolution of Belgau v. Inslee, which the Supreme Court declined to hear on June 21, 2021.  

Parties to the suit

The plaintiffs are Linda Creed, who works for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and Tyler Riberio, who works for the Alaska Department of Transportation. Attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center, which says it “fights for the constitutional rights of American families, workers, advocates and entrepreneurs,” represent the plaintiffs. The Alaska Policy Forum, which says its “mission is to empower and educate Alaskans and policymakers by promoting policies that grow freedom for all,” also assisted in the lawsuit. 

The defendants are the Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA), an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, and former Alaska Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka in her official capacity. Attorneys from Altshuler Berzon LLP, Dillon & Findley, P.C., and Consovoy McCarthy PLLC represent the defendants. 

About the case 

The plaintiffs filed their complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska on March 16, 2020. The plaintiffs wanted to cancel their union memberships and paycheck deductions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. They alleged that the defendants’ continued deductions of union dues from their paychecks according to a timetable plaintiffs agreed to before the Janus ruling had violated their First Amendment rights. The plaintiffs’ attorneys said the authorizations “[could not] constitute affirmative consent by those employees to waive their First Amendment right to not pay union dues or fees … because the Supreme Court had not yet recognized that right.” 

On July 14, 2020, Senior U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland, who was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan (R), granted ASEA’s motion to dismiss. Holland wrote that the plaintiffs “voluntarily agreed to join the union and have dues deducted from their paychecks. Their union membership agreements were binding contracts that remain enforceable even after Janus. … Because of these binding contracts, plaintiffs have not stated a plausible violation of their First Amendment rights.”

The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Aug. 25, 2020. On Sept. 11, 2020, the court granted ASEA’s motion to delay the proceedings until Belgau v. Inslee, which was then-pending in the Ninth Circuit, was resolved. On Sept. 16, 2020, a Ninth Circuit panel upheld the district court’s decision in Belgau v. Inslee, writing: “In the face of [plaintiffs’] voluntary agreement to pay union dues and in the absence of any legitimate claim of compulsion, the district court appropriately dismissed the First Amendment claim.” On June 21, 2021, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in Belgau v. Inslee

After the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Belgau v. Inslee, Creed and Riberio filed a motion in the Ninth Circuit requesting summary affirmance—a decision without an opinion—on July 2, 2021. The plaintiffs’ motion stated:

The Court’s decision in Belgau that no First Amendment waiver is required before dues are deducted pursuant to an employee’s dues deduction authorization forecloses Plaintiffs’ claims for retrospective relief, while the parties agree that this Court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ claims for prospective relief. 

To be clear, Plaintiffs do not concede that Belgau is correctly decided. …

Plaintiffs, nonetheless, acknowledge that Belgau is currently controlling circuit precedent barring their claims for retrospective relief, and that their claims for prospective relief are now moot. They therefore move the Court to summarily affirm the District Court’s decision on the ground that their appeal is currently controlled by Belgau, so Plaintiffs may petition the United States Supreme Court for review.

On Aug. 16, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted the plaintiffs’ request, upholding the district court’s decision.  The panel included Senior Judge Mary Schroeder, a Jimmy Carter (D) appointee, Senior Judge A. Wallace Tashima, a Bill Clinton (D) appointee, and Judge Andrew Hurwitz, a Barack Obama (D) appointee. 

The plaintiffs plan to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

The case name and number are Creed v. Alaska State Employees Association, 20-35743.

About the Ninth Circuit 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit hears appeals from the district courts within its jurisdiction, which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The chief judge of the court is Sidney Thomas, a Clinton appointee. Of the court’s 29 active judges, Clinton nominated nine, George W. Bush (R) nominated three, Obama nominated seven, and Donald Trump (R) nominated 10.  

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 98 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

No public-sector union bills saw activity this week.




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.

Additional reading:

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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