There has been a lot of attention to yesterday’s Supreme Court announcement that it will conduct a teleconference to hear oral arguments in some cases that had been scheduled to be heard in March and April. Currently, the Court is contacting the parties and deciding which cases will be heard on which dates (May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 or 13). I’ll provide a blurb about each case when we know when they will be heard, as well as details about how to listen in. It appears that – for the first time ever – the Court will give direct access to media outlets, and that they will in turn be able to provide public access.
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting the cases not yet rescheduled. There are 11 cases that had been on the Court’s schedule before the COVID-19 disruptions, are not on yesterday’s press release, and now instead appear to be postponed until some time in the next term (after the Court goes on summer recess and then returns on the first Monday in October). They are:
- Two consolidated cases (US v. Briggs and US v. Collins) involving the statute of limitations for rape under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There’s an interesting amicus brief from a bipartisan group of Members of Congress that provides a useful history of the UCMJ and prior precedents.
- Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc. is an extremely important intellectual property case. A great deal of software relies on existing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which had been assumed to be open-source because the statue states that copyright protection does not “extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery.” But the Federal Circuit held that APIs are copyrightable and that Google’s use of Java APIs were not fair use. See the amicus brief from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
- An important “no fly list” case brought in part under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Tanzin v. Tanvir. Oyez offers a useful overview:
The plaintiffs, Muslim men born outside of the U.S. but living lawfully inside the country, allege that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) placed their names on the national “No Fly List,” despite posing no threat to aviation, in retaliation for their refusal to become FBI informants reporting on fellow Muslims. They sued the agents in their official and individual capacities in U.S. federal court under the First Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the RFRA. They claim that the listing of their names substantially burdened their exercise of religion, in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), because their refusal was compelled by Muslim tenets.
- Carney v. Adams, involving a Delaware law concerning political affiliation of judges. “Whether the First Amendment invalidates a longstanding state constitutional provision that limits judges affiliated with any one political party to no more than a ‘bare majority’ on the state’s three highest courts, with the other seats reserved for judges affiliated with the ‘other major political party.’” The Brennan Center is heavily involved in such issues and has an amicus brief that should provide a good foundation.
- Torres v. Madrid, “Whether an unsuccessful attempt to detain a suspect by use of physical force is a “seizure” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 8th, 9th and 11th Circuits and the New Mexico Supreme Court hold, or whether physical force must be successful in detaining a suspect to constitute a “seizure,” as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals hold.” See the brief from the NAACP LDEF.
- Pereida v. Barr, “Whether a criminal conviction bars a noncitizen from applying for relief from removal when the record of conviction is merely ambiguous as to whether it corresponds to an offense listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act.” See this interesting brief from a group of former immigration judges.
- The remaining cases are ones that I would not have highlighted on this site, since they won’t be of much public interest or really accessible to the casual observer: Chicago v. Fulton (a technical bankruptcy issue); Texas v. New Mexico (a highly technical water issue: “Whether the River Master correctly allocated evaporation losses under the Pecos River Compact”); Ford Motor Company v. Bandemer and Ford v. Montana Eighth Judicial Court (technical civil procedure issues); and Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (an ERISA preemption issue).