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Appellate Litigation

Murray Energy: The Limits of EPA Authority - Podcast

Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Podcast
Robert R. Gasaway April 24, 2015

In what has become a highly visible challenge to the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act, the D.C. Court of Appeals heard oral argument on April 16, 2015. The case is being viewed by some as a fundamental test of executive authority and the judiciary’s willingness to evaluate and rein in possible overreach. Is the rule, now in proposed form, ripe for challenge, at least in part because compliance with the rule requires a great deal of planning and expense even before its adoption? Has the EPA overreached and, if so, will the court intervene? Or has the EPA properly utilized its statutory rulemaking authority for what all parties indicate will be an important change in the way coal-fired power plants are able to operate?

  • Robert R. Gasaway, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Raisin Growers Back in the Supreme Court – Horne v. USDA - Podcast

Environmental Law & Property Rights Practice Group Podcast
John Elwood April 23, 2015

Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, the USDA has authority to regulate the sale of certain agricultural products, including California-grown raisins, through the use of “marketing orders.” The marketing order specific to California-grown raisins directs the Raisin Administrative Committee, a branch of the USDA, to establish a yearly raisin tonnage reserve requirement. Every year in February, raisin farmers are told what percentage of their crop is the “reserve requirement” they must turn over to the Committee. Failure to comply results in fines and penalties. In 2002 and 2003, the Horne family refused to comply and was fined over $700,000. In a 2013 decision, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that regulated entities cannot be compelled to pay regulatory fines before they may contest their constitutionality, under the Fifth Amendment’s protection against uncompensated government seizure of private property (the Takings Clause). On remand in Horne, the federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that there was no taking. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on April 22, 2015, and considered three questions: (1) Whether the government's “categorical duty” under the Fifth Amendment to pay just compensation when it “physically takes possession of an interest in property” applies only to real property and not to personal property; (2) whether the government may avoid the categorical duty to pay just compensation for a physical taking of property by reserving to the property owner a contingent interest in a portion of the value of the property, set at the government's discretion; and (3) whether a governmental mandate to relinquish specific, identifiable property as a “condition” on permission to engage in commerce effects a per se taking.

  • John Elwood, Partner, Vinson & Elkins LLP

Unconstitutional Vagueness and the Armed Career Criminal Act – Supreme Court Re-Hears Johnson v. United States - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
Vikrant P. Reddy April 21, 2015

The “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act requires a mandatory minimum fifteen-year sentence for anyone who has three prior “violent felony” convictions and is found to unlawfully possess a firearm. This clause has been addressed at the Supreme Court on numerous occasions in recent years, with Justice Scalia suggesting that it is unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Johnson v. United States in November with no mention of the question, and after two months of silence re-scheduled the case for additional argument and instructed the parties to address this question directly. Many Court-watchers have suggested that there may now be five votes on the Court to declare the residual clause unconstitutionally vague.

  • Vikrant P. Reddy, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Effective Justice, Texas Public Policy Foundation

Patent Agreements, Patent Validity, and the Supreme Court - Podcast

Intellectual Property Practice Group Podcast
Gregory Dolin April 20, 2015

In two separate cases to be argued the week of March 30, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court continued to provide close oversight, often with critical disagreement, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the area of patent law. The Supreme Court will decide whether a patentee’s use of a royalty agreement that projects beyond the expiration date of the patent is unlawful per se. In a second case, the Court will determine whether a defendant's belief that a patent is invalid is a defense to induced infringement. Our expert was on hand to hear the oral arguments and reported to our Teleforum audience.

  • Prof. Gregory Dolin, Co-director, Center for Medicine and Law, University of Baltimore School of Law

Child Abuse and the Confrontation Clause: Ohio v. Clark - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
John C. Richter March 12, 2015

The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Ohio v. Clark on March 2, 2015. Two questions are presented to the Court: (1) Whether an individual's obligation to report suspected child abuse makes that individual an agent of law enforcement for purposes of the Confrontation Clause; and (2) whether a child's out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher's concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause. On March 17, 2010, a Cleveland preschool teacher noticed injuries to a three-year-old student. When asked, the child indicated that her mother’s boyfriend, Darius Clark, had caused the injuries. Clark was arrested and convicted of child abuse after the teacher relayed her concerns to a child-abuse hotline, as required by state law. On appeal Clark claimed that the admission of the child’s out-of-court statements to the teacher violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him. The Supreme Court of Ohio agreed, holding that because state law required the teacher to report suspected incidences of child abuse, the teacher was acting as an agent for law enforcement when inquiring about the child’s injuries. Therefore, the child’s out-of-court statements could only be admitted if the primary purpose of the teacher’s questioning was to address an ongoing emergency. Because the child was not in immediate danger of further injury, the out-of-court statement could not be admitted.

  • John C. Richter, Partner, King & Spalding