- The current Supreme Court is one of the most closely watched in history after President Donald Trump successfully appointed two conservative-leaning justices.
- The cases accepted by and decided on by the Court greatly shape precedent for future laws and rulings in courts across the United States.
- This year has seen the high court issue decisions on matters including firearm possession, immigration, and abortion.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump’s successful appointment of conservative justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch ushered in a new era for the Supreme Court.
As the justices consider issues that touch on all aspects of American life including immigration, abortion, and the environment, they make waves across the country that impact current and future laws and court decisions. Oftentimes, the high court’s rulings simply tell lower courts what legal precedents they can and can’t follow, so their opinions aren’t always the final outcome for the plaintiffs – they frequently have to go back to lower appeals courts to settle things.
The entire docket can be viewed here. Here’s a roundup of all the decisions the Court has made so far this year.
Department of Commerce v. New York
The case: The Trump administration wants to add a question to the 2020 census asking if respondents are citizens. A group of states and immigrant rights groups sued, arguing that asking such a question wouldn’t get an accurate count of the number of people in the US.
After the case was argued before the Supreme Court, new evidence emerged from a dead Republican operative’s hard drives. He had advised the Trump administration on the question, and his files showed his motives behind adding the question was to benefit conservatives and get more votes for Republicans.
The decision: In a mixed opinion with several parts (some of which were unanimous while others were 5-4), the justices faulted the Trump administration’s reasoning for adding the citizenship question, and sent the case back to the lower courts. The question could be added if the Commerce Department gives a better reasoning for adding it.
Rucho v. Common Cause
The case:Voters in North Carolina and Maryland sued, challenging their states’ congressional districting maps as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders, a term for redrawing maps to benefit the party in power. The North Carolina plaintiffs said their state discriminated against Democrats, while the Maryland plaintiffs said their state discriminated against Republicans.
The case was decided in combination with another case, Lamone v. Benisek, as an all-encompassing block on gerrymandering.
The decision:5-4 that federal courts have no role in determining whether congressional districts have been gerrymandered for political purposes, leaving states free to redraw maps as they see fit.
Mitchell v. Wisconsin
The case: Gerald Mitchell was pulled over and given a breathalyzer, which showed his blood alcohol content (BAC) was three times the legal limit in Wisconsin. The officer drove him to the police station to conduct a more reliable test, but Mitchell was too “lethargic” to do the test by that point, so the officer took him to the hospital to do a blood test there, which was legal under state law. Mitchell sued on the grounds that the officer violated his Fourth Amendment right against “unreasonable searches”.
The decision:5-4 that the blood test wasn’t unconstitutional.
United States v. Haymond
The case: Andre Haymond went to prison for 38 months after he was convicted of possessing child pornography, then was again found with child porn while he was on supervised release. A district judge sentenced him to another 5 years in prison because a law required it.
The decision:5-4 that the law is unconstitutional, and the sentence violated the Fifth and Sixth Amendments’ right to a trial by jury.
Kisor v. Wilkie
The case: Vietnam War veteran James Kisor applied for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1982 for post-traumatic stress disorder, but the agency denied his request. In 2006, Kisor applied again, and the VA granted his request, but would only give him benefits starting from that time, not back to 1982.
The decision:9-0 that courts shoulddefer=”defer”to an “agency’s reasonable reading of its own genuinely ambiguous regulations.”
Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Assn. v. Thomas
The case: The Tennessee attorney general declared a law that only let people get licenses to operate retail liquor stores if they had resided in the state for a certain number of years was unconstitutional, so the the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) stopped enforcing it. The Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association, a trade association of in-state liquor stores, sued.
The decision: 7-2 that the law did violate the Commerce Clause.
Nielsen v. Preap
The case:The government’s power to detain noncitizens with criminal records during deportation proceedings.
The decision:5-4 that the federal government can detain noncitizens with criminal records anytime following their release from custody.
Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela
The case: A class-action lawsuit from 2016 took issue with the disclosure of tax information for about 1,300 employees of Lamps Plus, a California-based company. To stifle the action, the company cited its arbitration agreement, which was vague on whether workers can join together.
The decision:5-4 that ambiguous contracts between employers and workers must be resolved individually, not as a class, through arbitration.
Apple Inc. v. Pepper
The case: The class-action lawsuit disputes the fees that Apple imposes on sales in its App Store, which includes up to a 30% commission markup to developers who sell apps in the store, bar them from selling their apps elsewhere, and influences setting prices, which developers say is unfair.
The decision:5-4 that iPhone users can sue Apple over excessive prices on its exclusive App Store.
Gamble v. United States
The case: In 2015, an Alabama police officer pulled Terance Martez Gamble over for a broken tail light on his car and discovered both a gun and marijuana paraphernalia in Gamble’s car during the stop. Gamble was barred from owning a firearm because he had been convicted of second-degree felony robbery seven years earlier, so the state prosecuted him for illegal possession of a firearm, and he served one year in prison. Subsequently, the federal government also charged Gamble with illegal possession of a firearm in relation to the same 2015 incident. Gamble was suing that the state charging him again was double jeopardy.
The decision:7-2 that federal and state governments can continue to prosecute defendants twice for the same crime.
Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill
The case:Residents of 12 different legislative districts in Virginia objected to a re-drawn map in the state’s June 2019 primary election for the state’s House of Delegates, arguing it diluted the strength of African-American voters in nearby districts, handing Republicans an advantage. This issue is more commonly known as gerrymandering.
The decision:5-4 that Virginia’s House of Delegates cannot challenge a federal court decision striking down 11 legislative districts as racial gerrymanders.
American Legion v. American Humanist Association
The case: A memorial park in Bladensburg, Maryland included a 40-foot tall cross, which several non-Christian residents objected to, arguing it should be removed to practice separation of church and state.
7-2 that the cross can remain standing.
Flowers v. Mississippi
The case: Mississippi resident Curtis Flowers was tried for murder six times, and has been on death row for 22 years. Flowers has maintained he didn’t commit the 1996 armed robbery that killed four employees of a furniture store. In the first two trials, the juries were all white, while Flowers is black. Flowers later appealed his conviction, arguing in part that the state had engaged in racial discrimination during the jury selection process, violating his Sixth and 14th Amendment rights.
The decision:7-2 that he deserves a new trial because of the prosecution’s racial discrimination in jury selection.
Iancu v. Brunetti
The case: Los Angeles-based artist Erik Brunetti sued the federal government on grounds that it violated his First Amendment rights by refusing to register the trademark for his clothing line, which is called “FUCT.”
The decision:6-3 that federal prohibitions against granting trademark protection to material deemed “immoral” or “scandalous” are unconstitutional.
Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media
The case: Argus Leader Media, which runs a newspaper in South Dakota, used the Freedom of Information Act to try and find out from the US Department of Agriculture how much money individual retailers received from taxpayers each year. The USDA refused, citing business exemptions to FOIA.
Helsinn Healthcare S. A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
The case: In the case of a “secret sale,” or an inventor selling an invention to a third party that keeps the invention confidential, does the America Invents Act designate invention as “prior art” for purposes of determining whether it can be patented?
New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira
The case: A long-haul truck driver alleged his employer, New Prime, Inc., routinely failed to pay him and other drivers minimum wage. After a class-action lawsuit, the company invoked the Federal Arbitration Act, claiming that the driver’s status as an independent contractor left him vulnerable to the company’s powers blocking arbitration.
The decision:8-0 that the “contract of employment” described in the Act covers any agreement to perform work, including Oliveira’s work as an independent contractor, so the matter will have to be solved in arbitration, not the courts.
Stokeling v. United States
The case:Denard Stokeling pleaded guilty in 2016 to firearm and ammunition charges. He was found to have two previous convictions for robbery in Florida, which included using force to overcome “victim resistance.” This element is interpreted differently among some state courts, and Stokeling contended that his robbery convictions should not qualify as “violent felonies” because those convictions did not require a violent use of force.
The decision:5-4 thata state robbery offence that has as an element of use of force sufficient to overcome a victim’s resistance is categorically a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act because it necessitates the use of “physical force.”
Culbertson v. Berryhill
The case: Attorney Richard Culbertson successfully challenged the denials of Social Security benefits for four plaintiffs. After the case, Culbertson asked the district court to award him attorney’s fees in those cases under standing provisions that allow for up to 25% of the past-due benefits his clients were awarded. The court granted most of the request, but limited him to a 25% cap, which he disputed.
Shoop v. Hill
The case: Danny Hill was convicted in 1986 in an Ohio court for the torture, rape, and murder of a 12-year-old boy. After his conviction, Hill filed a federal habeas petition for federal review of an earlier request that his death sentence was illegal under precedent for the Eighth Amendment that prohibits the criminal execution of a defendant who is “mentally retarded.”
The circuit court granted habeas relief in a decision that leaned on Moore v. Texas, a 2016 case in which the Supreme Court struck down a state law that relied on outdated medical standards concerning mental disability before the law.
The decision:9-0 that the previous decisions mistakenly relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in Moore v. Texas and the lower courts must review the case without considering the Moore decision.
Escondido v. Emmons
The case: In April 2013, police officers in Escondido, California, responded to a domestic violence call. According to police body-camera footage, an officer confronted a man at the residence, who didn’t display any visible or audible pain when he was taken to the ground before he was arrested him for a misdemeanour of resisting arrest.
The man, Marty Emmons, sued in part for use of excessive force, and a circuit court later found that the law established the officer couldn’t use excessive force that Emmons alleged in the situation.
The decision:9-0 that the previous decision that found the arresting officer was not entitled to qualified immunity was made in error and the court should have considered if established law barred officers from using such force.
Madison v. Alabama
The case:Alabama death row inmateVernon Madison suffered several serious strokes during his time in jail, which caused brain damage including memory loss that wiped his recollection of committing the crime in question. Based on his mental inabilities, Madison’s lawyers petitioned the court for habeas relief to avoid conviction.
The decision:5-3 that theEighth Amendment does not prohibit a state from executing a prisoner who cannot remember committing his crime, but does prohibit executing a prisoner whose mental inability renders them unable to understand the reasons for execution. The appeals court will hear Madison’s case again with the Supreme Court’s direction.
Garza v. Idaho
The case: Gilberto Garza, Jr. waived his right to appeal in early plea agreements for cases including aggravated assault and possession of a controlled substance. After he was convicted, Garza filed a petition for relief in each case on the basis that his trial attorney was ineffective because he hadn’t filed for subsequent appeals.
The decision:6-3 that a defendant should be able to expect effective assistance from their counsel, whether they signed a waiver or not.
Jam v. International Finance Corp.
The case: Indian fishermen, farmers, and others who live in Gujarat, India sued the International Finance Corporation seeking damages for the $US450 million construction of a plant that disrupted surrounding communities.
A district court found the IFC was immune from the suit under the International Organisations Immunities Act.
Nutraceutical Corp. v. Lambert
The case:Troy Lambert filed a consumer class action after purchasing a supplement to enhance his sexual performance that was manufactured by Nutraceutical that he said had not been through clinical testing, not FDA-approved, and not fairly advertised.
Lambert’s motion for reconsideration later in the case was caught up when the 9th Circuit held that equitable exceptions apply to mandatory claim-processing rules, including a 14-day deadline to file a petition for permission to appeal an order granting or denying class-action certification.
The decision:9-0 that the rule in question is not subject to equitable tolling, which states that the statute of limitations will not bar the plaintiff from pursuing a claim.
Yovino v. Rizo
The case: The Ninth Circuit Court was considering a claim by an employee of the Fresno County Office of Education against the superintendent of schools concerning the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Judge Stephen Reinhardt died after he finished writing his opinion on the case without filing it, leaving his power as the deciding opinion open to question.
The decision: The Court issued a per curiam, or unsigned, opinion that recommended further proceedings, noting that Reinhardt’s opinion shouldn’t be considered in judgment because “federal judges are appointed for life, not for eternity.”
Dawson v. Steager
The case: A West Virginia law gave tax exemptions on retirement income for many state and local firefighters and law enforcement officers, but excluded federal marshals. So James and Elaine Dawson sued, arguing that was unfair.
The decision:9-0 that the law unfairly discriminates among federal employees.
Moore v. Texas
The case: This was the Court’s second review of this case, which concerns criteria from outdated medical standards that consider intellectual disability as it affects a person’s eligibility for execution.
The case in question is from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which held that Bobby James Moore lacked intellectual disability and was therefore eligible for the death penalty.
The decision:In a per curiam decision, the Court advanced its previous issues with the case, finding that the Texas court erroneously ruled on Moore.
Lorenzo v. SEC
The case: The Securities Exchange Commission brought actions against Francis Lorenzo, accusing him of sending false and misleading statements to investors with intent to defraud while serving as the director of investment banking at the SEC-registered brokerage firm Charles Vista, LLC.
The District of Columbia Circuit Court later ruled that the SEC could not totally pin down Lorenzo as the “maker” of the statement, which the rule “Janus v. First Derivative Traders” defined as “the person or entity with ultimate authority over the statement, including its content and whether and how to communicate it.”
The decision:6-2 that a person who is not necessarily the “maker” of false statements can be held accountable, empowering the scope of rules to bring complaints against individuals known to make misleading or false statements.
Sturgeon v. Frost
The case: The federal government barred John Sturgeon from using his hovercraft on the Nation River, which runs through Alaska’s Yukon-Charley National Preserve conservation unit. Sturgeon argued that the Nation River was not under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.
The decision:9-0 that Sturgeon was correct, adding that all non-public lands and waters within Alaska’s national parks were exempt from the service’s authority.
Republic of Sudan v. Harrison
The case: A 2010 suit by sailors injured in the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in the Port of Aden, Yemen, and their families, was complicated when a clerk sent the case summons and complaint to the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. When the minister did not answer the complaint in time, the case entered a default against Sudan.
The decision:8-1 that the relevant foreign minister’s office must be notified directly, not just the foreign state’s American embassy.
Frank v. Gaos
The case: After a court ordered Google to pay $US5.3 million of the $US8.3 million total to six “cy pres” (charities in place of individual) recipients in honour of three plaintiffs who sued over privacy violations, the reward was called into question if it actually benefits members of the suit or not.
Obduskey v. McCarthy & Holthus LLP
The case:Dennis Obduskey sued the law firm of McCarthy & Holthus LLP and Wells Fargo over repeated attempts by the bank and firm to collect a debt and proceed with foreclosure on his Colorado home, saying the process violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
The decision:9-0 that a business pursuing non-judicial foreclosure proceedings is not bound by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, as it is not technically a debt collector.
Air & Liquid Systems Corp. v. DeVries
The case: Roberta G. Devries and Shirley McAfee sued manufacturers of parts used in US Navy ships, alleging that their late husbands had developed cancer after being exposed to asbestos from the ships.
The manufacturers objected to taking responsibility, saying they could not be held liable for the sailors’ injuries because they released their products out in “bare metal” form.
The decision:6-3 that the manufacturer owed a warning about the danger of the materials, even though the Navy had added the asbestos.
Washington State Dept. of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc.
The case: Cougar Den, a fuel distributor based on the Yakama Indian Reservation, pushed back on an order from the Washington State Licensing Department that demanded $US3.6 million in unpaid taxes, penalties, and licensing fees for hauling fuel across state lines without a licence.
The company cited the Yakama Nation Treaty of 1855, which says members of the tribe have “the right, in common with citizens of the United States, to travel upon all public highways.”
The decision:5-4 that the treaty provides for members to use public highways.
Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc.
A jury awarded Oracle $US50,027,000 plus attorney’s fees and costs, with totaled $US124,291,396.82. Rimini took issue with the award including non-taxable costs.
The decision:9-0 that the circuit court should not have awarded non-taxable costs to the company.
BNSF Railway Company v. Loos
The case:Michael Loos brought claims against the BNSF Railway Company related to his injury and termination from the company. A jury considering a negligence claim awarded Loos $US30,000 for lost wages and $US11,212.78 for medical expenses, from which the company said Loos must subtract taxes owed.
The decision:7-2 that Loos must pay taxes on the portion of a jury award for compensating him for lost wages while he was unable to work due to his injury because damages for lost wages are considered compensation.
Fourth Estate Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com
The case:Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation filed for copyright infringement against Wall-Street.com, which continued to display articles produced by Fourth Estate on its website after it had canceled its publishing partnership, violating a licence agreement.
The decision:9-0 that registration of a copyright claim has only been “made” after the copyright office has processed the application and registered the copyright, not when the application is filed.
Thacker v. TVA
The case: A lawsuit was filed against the government agency Tennessee Valley Authority, alleging negligence after an accident on the Tennessee River left Gary Thacker electrocuted and his friend dead. The agency was attempting to repair a power line during a fishing tournament.
Courts pointed to the agency’s status as a government organisation as possible exemption from responding to such a petition.
The decision:9-0 that the agency is not exempt from suits concerning incidents not connected to its governmental authority.
Bucklew v. Precythe
The case:Russell Bucklew was scheduled to be executed on May 21, 2014, but filed an action in federal district court that said lethal injection would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment. Because he suffered from a unique congenital condition, Bucklew said he wouldn’t die efficiently.
The decision:5-4 that Bucklew didn’t satisfy the necessary burden of proving that the state found and denied an appropriate alternative execution method.
Biestek v. Berryhill
The case:Michael Biestek appealed the Social Security Administration’s denial of his disability benefits application and was told the judge and court in the case did not have appropriate medical-expert testimony to inform Biestek’s appeal.
The decision:6-3 thatan expert’s testimony will not be categorically from qualifying as “substantial evidence” in federal court if they do not provide data supporting their argument during a Social Security disability benefits hearing.
Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc.
The case:Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky challenged two Indiana state laws that focused on the disposal of fetal remains by abortion providers and banned abortions on the basis of sex, race, and disability.
The decision:In a per curiam, or unsigned, opinion, the Court upheld an Indiana law relating to the disposition of fetal remains as a legitimate state interest. The Court declined to the review the law that considers demographic factors for abortion.
Smith v. Berryhill
The case: Ricky Lee Smith’s claim for review concerning his application and hearing for disability benefits that was dismissed as untimely, prompting the issue if the denial by the Appeals Council based on timeliness is subject to judicial review under the Social Security Act.
The decision:9-0 that a disability claim that is denied based on timeliness is open to judicial review.
Home Depot, Inc. v. Jackson
The case:George Jackson filed a counterclaim against Citibank as part of a series of cases that concerned collections for the amount owed on a home water-treatment system, sparking the issue if the Class Action Fairness Act allows a counterclaim defendant to move a claim from state to federal court.
The decision:5-4 that a defendant cannot move under general removal statues or the Class Action Fairness Act.
Timbs v. Indiana
The case:Indiana police seized the Land Rover of Tyson Timbs, who was convicted after selling less than $US400 worth of heroin to undercover police officers in 2013.
The decision:9-0 that states cannot impose excessive fees, fines and forfeitures as criminal penalties.
Nieves v. Bartlett
The case: After Russell Bartlett sued Alaska police officers for damages on the basis of claims including false arrest, courts found themselves in disagreement over the possibility of a plaintiff making a retaliatory arrest prosecution with probable cause present.
The decision:6-3 that probable cause in an arrest defeats the potential First Amendment claim of a retaliatory arrest.
Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC
The case: When garment manufacturer Tempnology, LLC filed for bankruptcy, it moved to reject its licensing agreement with Mission Product Holdings, sparking the question of a party’s powers to terminate the rights of a licensing agreement that would otherwise survive an agreement breach under non-bankruptcy law.
Herrera v. Wyoming
The case:Clayvin Herrera, an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe of Indians, was cited with two hunting-related misdemeanours under Wyoming law and convicted after the state court held that tribe members do not have off-reservation treaty hunting rights in the state.
The decision:5-4 that the state’s admission to the Union did not invalidate the tribe’s 1868 federal treaty that granted them the right to hunt on “unoccupied” lands, and that the Bighorn National Forest did not become “occupied” when it was created.
Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Albrecht
The case: After thousands of plaintiffs brought complaints against drug manufacturer Merck Sharp & Dohme about personal injuries connected to the osteoporosis drug Fosamax, courts surfaced the issue of whether the Food and Drug Administration can have the final say on not including a warning on a product after being provided with the relevant scientific data.
The decision:9-0 that the question of the agency’s disapproval in providing a warning on a product should be left to a judge, not a jury.
Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Hunt
The case: Parsons employee Billy Joe Hunt was charged after he told FBI agents about a fraudulent scheme that transpired during his employer’s contract for munitions cleanup in Iraq. Hunt then filed a qui tam action alleging the contracting firms had violated the False Claims Act with false actions and payments.
This sparked the issue of Hunt, as a relator in a False Claims Act, and his ability within the case’s statute of limitations.
The decision:9-0 that a private person may rely on the statute of limitations in a suit in which the United States has declined to intervene, but cannot act as a US official, as he is a private individual.
Franchise Tax Bd. of Cal. v. Hyatt
The case: A tax auditor for the Franchise Tax Board of California pursued an investigation into inventor Gilbert P. Hyatt’s state tax returns. Hyatt sued the FTB in Nevada court, which the agency objected to by citing several exemptions it enjoyed in its home state of California.
After disagreement among states, the Court was called to weigh on the issue of precedent established by Nevada v. Hall, which allows for a state to be sued in another state’s courts.
United States v. Davis
The case: Maurice Lamont Davis and Andre Levon Glover petitioned charges that were based on crimes committed with a firearm on a vague qualification that designates a “crime of violence.”
The rule in question defines a crime of violence as if it “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another,” and in another section as “by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offence.”
Dutra Group v. Batterton
The case: Deckhand Christopher Batterton was injured on a boat owned by the Dutra Group. He alleged that since his injury was caused by a missing exhaust mechanism, it made the vessel legally unseaworthy.
North Carolina Dept. of Revenue v. Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust
The case: Joseph Lee Rice III named his descendants as primary beneficiaries to a trust established in North Carolina in 1992. In 2009, representatives of the Trust filed a claim for a refund of taxes paid to the North Carolina, while Rice’s daughter and beneficiary lived in Connecticut, which the department denied.
The decision:9-0, in a decision that cited the part of the Due Process Clause that prohibits a state from taxing trust income based on beneficiaries’ in-state residency.
Rehaif v. United States
The case: After Hamid Mohamed Ahmed Ali Rehaif visited a shooting range months after his immigration status was terminated, FBI agents found ammunition in his hotel room.
After a trial found Rehaif guilty of violating US code that prohibits unlawful residents from possessing a firearm or ammunition, Rehaif objected to the government’s attempt to assert that the US “is not required to prove that the defendant knew that he was illegally or unlawfully in the United States.” Courts disagreed on the burden of proof at the heart of immigration status and firearm material possession.
Knick v. Township of Scott
The case: After authorities from the Township of Scott, Pennsylvania identified gravestones on her property, she disputed an ordinance that said she could restrict access to the area, though it was part of her property.
The decision:5-4 that property owners are entitled to filing a Fifth Amendment claim under if the government taking ownership of property without compensation.
Gundy v. United States
The case: Herman Gundy was convicted for travelling from Pennsylvania to New York and then staying in New York without registering as a sex offender. The various authorities concerned with Gundy’s status surfaced the question of who is responsible for enforcing registration requirements for offenders convicted after the Sex Offender Notification and Registration Act.
The decision:5-3 that the US Attorney General was an appropriate agent to enforce sex offender registration regulations.
McDonough v. Smith
The case: Edward G. McDonough, then the commissioner of the Rensselaer County elections board, filed a lawsuit claiming that he had been targeted in an investigation over fabricated election results after he was acquitted in the investigation.
McDonough’s suit was dismissed on the basis of timeliness, but courts disagreed over when the three-year statute of limitations for the case began.
The decision:6-3 that a claim takes hold when the plaintiff has a “complete and present cause of action,” so the statute of limitations for McDonough’s claim began when he won the acquittal.
PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton Harris Chiropractic, Inc.
The case: Carlton & Harris, a chiropractic office in West Virginia, sued PDR Network under a statute against an “unsolicited” fax advertisement, which courts found to be a vague qualification.
The decision:9-0 that the language was binding if the order is the equivalent of a “legislative rule” and if the subject of the rule, PDR Network, was able to seek judicial review of the order’s use.
Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck
The case: DeeDee Halleck and Jesus Papoleto Melendez filed a lawsuit against the Manhattan Neighbourhood Network and the City of New York, alleging violations to their First Amendment rights and pointing to MNN as an extension of government authority that controls the public forum.
Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren
The case: Virginia Uranium, Coles Hills, and Bowen Minerals filed a suit against a ban on uranium mining, claiming the federal Atomic Energy Act preempted the Virginia law.
The decision:6-3 that the law does not have a sufficient description of authority or mining regulations to preempt the law, and that states have the “power to regulate mining on private lands within their borders.”
Quarles v. United States
The case: Jamar Quarles’ conviction for third-degree home invasion as a violent felony was remanded after the Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States that said a clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act on what constitutes “violent felony” was unconstitutionally vague.
The decision:9-0 that the generic, state-level definition of burglary specifies an individual remained in a building and had intent to commit a crime, against Quarles’ argument.
Return Mail, Inc. v. Postal Service
The case: The US Postal Service filed a petition to get a patent requested by Return Mail, Inc. declared unpatentable.
The Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board determined as much, sparking the question if government agencies can benefit from the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which previously protected individual people.
The decision:6-3 that government agencies cannot be considered a “person” capable of petitioning the board.
Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd. v. Newton
The case: Brian Newton sued Parker Drilling Management Services for wage and hour violations he said he experienced during his time on the outer Continental Shelf, off the coast of Santa Barbara, California.
Newton sued according to requirements under California law, sparking concerns across courts about the interaction of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the federal Fair Labour Standards Act in informing allowances of such workers.
The decision:9-0 that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act is substituted by state law only if there are gaps in federal law, so lower courts will have to hear Newton’s case again.
Azar v. Allina Health Services
The case: The US Medicare program is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services to several different sub-groups of enrollees.
In 2012, the agency adjusted the calculation by which it would provide payouts to hospitals that treat higher numbers of low-income patients. The changes would lower reimbursement rates for a total discrepancy of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Taggart v. Lorenzen
The case: A plaintiff sought attorneys’ fees from real estate developer Bradley Taggart after he received a discharge in his Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Taggart filed a motion in bankruptcy court to hold the plaintiff in civil contempt for violating the discharge injunction as the court initially determined the fees were exempt from the discharge order because the defendant had “returned to the fray” in state court post-petition.
The Court weighed in on if bankruptcy code overrides normal grounds for civil contempt where a creditor believes in good faith that the discharge injunction doesn’t apply.
The decision:9-0 that a creditor may be held in civil contempt for violating a bankruptcy court’s discharge order.
Fort Bend County v. Davis
The case: Lois Davis alleged sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting the harassment from her employer, Fort Bend County, Texas. While that claim was pending, the employer fired her for failing to show up to work on Sunday because she went to a church event.
After years of litigation, only the religious discrimination remained in the claim, and the employer then argued in court that Davis had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies on to pursue the claim, as required by Title VII, the Civil Rights Act that grants workplace protections.
The decision:9-0 that the administrative-exhaustion requirement for the claim is not basis enough for a suit against an individual, so Davis’ case didn’t need to be automatically dismissed because of that.
Mont v. United States
The case: While Jason Mont was on supervised release from federal prison, he was indicted and sentenced on state drug-trafficking charges. In the sentencing, Mont received 42 months of additional imprisonment.
The US Court of Appeals held that a supervised-release term is paused by imprisonment in the event of a new conviction.
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