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Today at SCOTUS – 11/12/13

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) the knowledge required to convict a defendant of aiding and abetting the use of a firearm; (2) criminal liability and causation for drug-related deaths; and (3) retaliation against private contractors working for publicly held companies under Sarbanes-Oxley:

(1)   Rosemond v. US  [see our preview at]

  • In order to convict a defendant of aiding and abetting the use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime, does the government need to prove that the defendant intentionally facilitated or encouraged the use of the firearm, or merely that the defendant knew that the principal used a firearm during the crime?

(2)   Burrage v. US [see our preview at]

  • Can a defendant who sells drugs to someone who dies of an overdose be held criminally liable for that person’s death if the drug contributed to the victim’s death but was not the sole cause?

(3)   Lawson v. FMR, LLC  [see our preview at]

  • Does the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1514A, which forbids publicly traded companies, mutual funds, and contractors or subcontractors of such companies from discriminating or retaliating against an employee because of certain protected conduct, protect an employee of a privately-held contractor or subcontractor of a public company?

Today at SCOTUS – 11/6/2013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and (2) when actions brought by a state fall under the Class Actions Fairness Act:

(1)   Town of Greece v. Galloway [see our preview at]

  • Does a town violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by starting its board meetings with prayer?

(2)  Mississippi v. AU Optronics Corp. [see our preview at]

  • When is a state’s parens patriae action a “mass action” under the Class Action Fairness Act, and therefore removable to federal court?


Today at SCOTUS – 11/5/2013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1)   (2) the intersection of Congress’ treaty power and federal criminal law; and (3) federal questions in state administrative procedures:

(1)  Medtronic, Inc. v. Boston Scientific Corp. [see our preview at]

  • Does the burden of proving patent infringement in a declaratory judgment action fall upon the licensee or licensor?

(2)  Bond v. United States [see our preview at]

  • Do the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses, read in connection with the treaty power, allow a statute that was enacted by Congress to enforce a treaty to serve as a valid basis for prosecuting a criminal defendant in Federal District Court?

(3)  Sprint Communications Co. v. Jacobs [see our preview at]

  • Should federal courts abstain from remedial actions—state administrative proceedings initiated by a private party—involving a federal question?

Today at SCOTUS – 11/4/2013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) the Fair Labor Standards Act and (2) the outer limits of personal jurisdiction and venue:

(1) Sandifer v. United State Steel Corp. [see our preview at]

  • Should workers be compensated for time spent putting on and taking off safety gear, when the applicable collective bargaining agreement excludes time spent “changing clothes” from the compensable workday and that exclusion is permitted by section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act?

(2) Walden v. Fiore [see our preview at]

  • Can a court exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant whose only contact with the forum state is his knowledge that the plaintiffs had contacts with the state?
  • Is the district where a plaintiff suffered injury a proper venue if all of the alleged events giving rise to the claim were committed by the defendant in a different district?

Today at SCOTUS – 10/16/2013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about the Constitutional limits on (1) freezing a criminal defendant’s assets without a pretrial hearing; and (2) a state’s use of mental health exam results as rebuttal testimony:

(1) Kaley v. United States [see our preview at]

  • Do the Fifth and Sixth Amendments require a pretrial, adversarial hearing, at which the defendant may challenge the underlying charges before the government can freeze assets needed by the defendant to retain counsel of choice?

(2) Kansas v. Cheever [see our preview at]

  • When a defendant presents expert testimony that he was not in the required mental-state to commit a capital offense because of methamphetamine use, does the State violate the defendant’s right against self-incrimination by presenting rebuttal testimony based on a court-ordered mental evaluation of the defendant?


Today at SCOTUS — 10/15/2013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) prohibitions on considering race in public university admissions; (2) the jurisdiction of federal courts over certain foreign corporations; and (3) the statue of limitations for judicial review on denied disability benefits claims:

(1) Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action [see our preview at]

  • Does a state violate the Equal Protection Clause or political-restructuring doctrine by amending the state constitution to prohibit public universities and schools from using race in their admissions processes?

(2) DaimlerChrysler AG v. Bauman [see our preview at]

  • Does a federal court have jurisdiction over a foreign corporation not incorporated in the forum state solely because the corporation’s indirect corporate subsidiary performs services for the corporation in the forum state?

(3) Heimshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co.  [see our preview at]

  • Does the statute of limitations for judicial review of an adverse determination on a disability benefits claim begin to accrue at the time specified by an insurance policy or when the claimant files an ERISA disability claim?

Today at SCOTUS – 10/9/2013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) tax law and the jurisdiction of federal district courts; and (2) the intersection of contracts and the rules governing proper venue for resolving disputes:

(1)  US v. Woods  [see our preview at]

  • Does a district court have jurisdiction to determine whether an overstatement penalty should be applied in a partnership-level proceeding?
  • Does the overstatement penalty apply to an underpayment in federal income tax where the transaction lacks economic substance because the sole purpose of the transaction was to inflate the taxpayer’s basis in property?

(2)  Atlantic Marine Construction Co. v. US Dist. Court for the Western Dist. of TX  [see our preview at]

  • Can forum-selection clauses render statutorily proper venue improper?
  • How much weight should courts give forum-selection clauses under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)?

Today at SCOTUS – 10/8/2013

Today at SCOTUS:

(1)  How should a court adjudicate a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel when the defendant accepted a plea deal?

– See our preview of Burt v. Titlow at

(2)  Do aggregate limits on individual political campaign contributions violate the First Amendment?

– See our preview McCutcheon v. FEC at