TagSupreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court grants review in 14 cases

On the evening of Jan. 8, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) granted review in 14 cases for a total of 12 hours of oral argument during its 2020-2021 term. The cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

The following is a list of the cases granted review by SCOTUS and the lower courts from which they originated:

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit

  • Sanchez v. Wolf
  • Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit

  • United States v. Gary

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit

  • City of San Antonio, Texas v. Hotels.com, L.P.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

  • United States v. Palomar-Santiago
  • Americans for Prosperity v. Becerra (Consolidated with Thomas More Law Center v. Becerra)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit

  • HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association

 U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit

  • Greer v. United States
  • Terry v. United States

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

  • Mnuchin v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation (Consolidated with Alaska Native Village Corporation Association v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation)
  • Guam v. United States

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

  • Minerva Surgical Inc. v. Hologic Inc.

The Supreme Court began hearing cases for the term on Oct. 5, 2020. The court will hear a total of five hours of oral argument in six cases during its January sitting.

As of Jan. 11, the court had agreed to hear arguments in 60 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. 

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SCOTUS announces oral arguments to be conducted via teleconference for January sitting

On Jan. 5, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear oral arguments via teleconference during its January sitting, following the same format that was used during its October, November, and December sittings.

Under this format, all relevant counsel are called the morning of the case’s argument day and are briefed with instructions. At the time of argument, the justices enter the main conference call for argument. Chief Justice Roberts will call the first case and will prompt counsel to present their arguments. The chief justice will conduct initial questioning. Once complete, the associate justices are able to ask questions in turns in order of seniority.

The following is a list of the current Supreme Court justices in order of seniority:

  • Chief Justice John Roberts – Appointed by President George W. Bush (R) in 2005
  • Associate Justice Clarence Thomas – Appointed by President George H.W. Bush (R) in 1991
  • Associate Justice Stephen Breyer – Appointed by President Bill Clinton (D) in 1994
  • Associate Justice Samuel Alito – Appointed by President George W. Bush (R) in 2006
  • Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor – Appointed by President Barack Obama (D) in 2009
  • Associate Justice Elena Kagan – Appointed by President Barack Obama (D) in 2010
  • Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch – Appointed by President Donald Trump (R) in 2017
  • Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh – Appointed by President Donald Trump (R) in 2018
  • Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett – Appointed by President Donald Trump (R) in 2020

The court also announced that the oral arguments will be provided to the public via live audio stream. The audio files and argument transcripts for cases will be posted on the Court’s website following oral argument each day.

The Supreme Court began hearing cases for the term on Oct. 5, 2020. The court’s yearly term begins on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October the following year.

As of Jan. 8, 2021, the court had agreed to hear 60 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.

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SCOTUS issues ruling in case concerning Delaware’s method of judicial selection

On December 11, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a unanimous ruling in the case Carney v. Adams. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit and concerned judicial selection in Delaware. The case was argued during the court’s October Term for 2020-2021 on October 5, 2020.

The case: As of December 2019, when Delaware Governor John Carney Jr. (D) filed a petition before the U.S. Supreme Court, Article IV, Section 3 of the Delaware Constitution required that no more than the bare majority of judges on a given Delaware court could be of the same political party. 

James Adams, a retired lawyer, sued Gov. Carney in federal district court. Adams argued Article IV, Section 3 violated the First Amendment. In response, Carney argued that Adams did not have the legal right, or standing, to file a lawsuit. A federal magistrate judge ruled the state constitution’s provision was unconstitutional. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the federal district court’s ruling. 

Gov. Carney, acting in his official capacity, filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing the 3rd Circuit’s decision conflicted with decisions in similar cases from the 2nd Circuit, 6th Circuit, and the 7th Circuit.

The issues: 

(1) Does the First Amendment invalidate the Delaware Constitution’s “bare majority” requirement? 

(2) Was the 3rd Circuit wrong to hold that part of the Delaware Constitution’s “bare majority” requirement is not severable from the rest of the requirement? 

(3) Does the respondent have standing?

The outcome: The court vacated the 3rd Circuit’s decision in an 8-0 ruling, holding that James Adams, the respondent, did not have standing to sue the governor of Delaware. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the opinion and Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion. Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the case’s consideration or decision.

As of December 14, 2020, the court had issued opinions in nine cases this term. Four cases were decided without argument.

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Supreme Court releases opinion on water dispute between Texas and New Mexico

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

The Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion in Texas v. New Mexico, which was argued on October 5, 2020. The case is part of the court’s original jurisdiction, meaning it was the first and only court to hear the case.

Texas v. New Mexico concerned an interstate water dispute. In 1949, the two states entered a compact about use of the Pecos River, which flows south from New Mexico to Texas, where it joins the Rio Grande. In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court appointed a river master to issue an annual report summarizing New Mexico’s compliance with its compact obligations. In this case, Texas challenged retroactive changes the river master made to his 2014-2015 annual report.

In a 7-1 opinion written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the court denied Texas’ motion to review the river master’s annual report, holding the river master correctly determined New Mexico’s water delivery credit. Kavanaugh wrote, “As the River Master correctly concluded, New Mexico is entitled to delivery credit for the evaporated water. That result is both legally accurate and entirely fair.”

Justice Samuel Alito concurred in part and dissented in part. In his opinion, Alito wrote that he would have vacated the case and remanded it to the river master with instructions to redo his analysis.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the case. She was not a member of the court when arguments were held.

As of December 14, 2020, the court had issued opinions in nine cases this term. Four cases were decided without argument.

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U.S. Supreme Court releases January 2021 argument calendar

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

The U.S. Supreme Court has released its January argument calendar for the 2020-2021 term. The court will hear five hours of oral argument in seven cases between January 11 and January 19.

So far, the court has agreed to hear 46 cases during its 2020-2021 term.

January 11, 2021

Albence v. Guzman Chavez

January 12, 2021

Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski

January 13, 2021

AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission (Consolidated with Federal Trade Commission v. Credit Bureau Center, LLC)

January 19, 2021

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

BP P.L.C. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore

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U.S. Supreme Court grants expedited review of case on census count

On October 16, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted Trump v. New York for expedited review and scheduled oral argument for November 30, 2020. The case came on a writ of certiorari to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. It concerns congressional apportionment following the 2020 U.S. Census. The U.S. government is asking the Supreme Court to consider if the president can order the U.S. secretary of commerce to exclude individuals residing unlawfully in the U.S. from the census’ apportionment base.

On July 21, 2020, President Donald Trump (R) issued a memorandum to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. The memorandum said it was the policy of the United States to exclude individuals living unlawfully in the U.S. from the census apportionment base. A coalition of state and local governments sued the government in U.S. district court, arguing the policy violated the U.S. Constitution and laws governing the census and apportionment. The government argued (1) the court did not have jurisdiction to review the claims and (2) the policy was legal. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of the coalition, holding the president exceeded his authority in issuing the memorandum. The government appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The government presented the following two questions to the court:

  1. Does the coalition of state and local governments have the legal right—or standing—to challenge the memorandum?
  2. Does the president have the authority to exclude individuals unlawfully residing in the U.S. from the apportionment base?

The census aims to provide a complete count of the U.S. population along with demographic data. The 2020 census is being conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Statistical information on the population collected through the census every 10 years is used for congressional apportionment and the distribution of federal funds.

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SCOTUS to hear case concerning Fourth Amendment

On Oct. 19, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) granted review in the case “Lange v. California” for a total of one hour of oral argument during its October Term for 2020-2021. The case originated from the California First District Court of Appeal. “Lange v. California” has not yet been scheduled for argument.

The case:  While Arthur Lange was driving home on the highway in Sonoma, California, California Highway Patrol Officer Aaron Weikert pursued Lange with the intention of conducting a traffic stop. Weikert followed Lange home and activated his overhead lights once Lange pulled into his home’s driveway. Lange pulled into the garage and the garage door began closing behind him. Weikert approached Lange and stopped the garage from closing with his foot. He questioned Lange and asked if Lange knew Weikert was following him. Lange stated that he did not know Weikert was following him. Weikert stated he smelled alcohol on Lange’s breath and charged Lange with driving under the influence.

At trial, Lange claimed that Weikert’s entry into Lange’s home violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution since Weikert did not have a warrant to enter Lange’s home, and the court moved to suppress a video recording of the incident. The trial court concluded that the officer had probable cause, denied the motion to suppress, and issued a conviction for Lange. Following that action, a civil court ruled that Lange’s arrest was unlawful, while an appellate court ruled that the arrest was lawful. On appeal to the California First District Court of Appeal, the court affirmed the conviction.

The issue: Whether the pursuit of a person whom a police officer has probable cause to believe has committed a misdemeanor categorically qualifies as an exigent circumstance sufficient to allow the officer to enter a home without a warrant.

The Supreme Court began hearing cases for the term on Oct. 5, 2020. 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 October 19, 2020, the court had agreed to hear 39 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.

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Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination Oct. 22

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to advance Judge Amy Coney Barrett‘s nomination for consideration before the full Senate. Twenty-two senators currently sit on that committee, including 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

President Donald Trump (R) nominated Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 29 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18. Barrett’s confirmation hearings were held Oct. 12 – 15 before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On day one of the hearings, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) provided opening statements, followed by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) then introduced Barrett. After the introductions, Barrett gave her opening statement. The day ended with Barrett’s introduction to the committee by professor Patricia O’Hara, which was delayed due to technical difficulties during the initial introductions.

Day two of the hearings consisted of senators questioning Barrett for 11 hours, with each senator allotted 30 minutes. Recurring themes in the questioning included abortion, the Affordable Care Act, election disputes, legal access to firearms, and same-sex marriage. On day three of the hearings, senators continued to question Barrett for nearly nine hours—with each senator allotted 20 minutes. Recurring themes in the questioning included abortion, election administration, immigration, and presidential power.

On the fourth and final day of hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-10 to hold a committee vote on Barrett’s nomination. Most Democrats voted by proxy because they did not appear in person. The committee also heard witness testimony. Witnesses in support of Barrett’s confirmation included the American Bar Association, former Judge Thomas Griffith, a law school professor, a former student, and a former mentee and employee of Barrett. Witnesses opposed to Barrett’s confirmation included the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a medical doctor, a small business owner and activist, and a nonprofit leader.

The average vacancy length on the Supreme Court since 1962—when defined as the length of time elapsed between a justice’s departure date and the swearing-in of their successor—is 88 days. Four of these vacancies lasted for only a few hours each; the successor was sworn in the same day the retiring justice officially left office. The longest vacancy under this definition was 422 days, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

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Supreme Court announces it will use teleconferencing to hear oral arguments for November, December sittings

The Supreme Court of the United States announced on October 9, 2020, that it will hear oral arguments via teleconference for its November and December sittings. Currently, eight arguments are set for November, and ten are set for December.

The court previously heard oral arguments via teleconference in May and October of this year after closing to the public indefinitely on March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The live audio from the arguments was made available to the public for the first time in the court’s history; previously, the court released audio and transcripts of oral arguments on Fridays.

The arguments will follow the same format the court used formerly, including rules dictating which Justices will ask questions based on seniority.

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U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear case challenging Chevron deference

On October 5, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge against Chevron deference brought by the Children’s Hospital Association of Texas. The association had asked whether courts should give Chevron deference to agency legal interpretations that are different from previous agency interpretations.

Chevron deference is an approach to judicial review that compels federal courts to yield to a federal agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute instead of using the courts’ own interpretation. Judicial deference is one of the five pillars key to understanding the main areas of debate about the nature and scope of the administrative state.

The challenge to Chevron came out of a decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The association argued in its petition to the U.S. Supreme Court that the D.C. Circuit should not have upheld the rule under Chevron. The petition says, “the court of appeals chose to ‘skip’ Chevron step one, brushed aside canons of statutory construction, and looked past what it acknowledged was a legal error in a key premise of the agency’s rulemaking—the agency’s insistence that its new regulation merely clarified, and was consistent with, existing policy. In numerous ways, this ruling conflicts with decisions from other circuits and this Court.

Judge Karen Henderson, a George H.W. Bush appointee, wrote the opinion for the D.C. Circuit saying, “The familiar Chevron framework guides our review.” She held that the statute was clear, so the court needed only to decide whether the agency’s interpretation was reasonable. Henderson wrote that the rule was consistent with the Medicaid law and upheld it.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of the case, the 2019 decision of the D.C. Circuit will remain in effect.

To learn more about Chevron deference or judicial deference, see here:



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