On January 16, 2015, the Supreme Court granted cert in four same-sex marriage cases from the Sixth Circuit (one case from each of four states of the circuit, -- Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky). The questions presented in the cases are: whether the Fourteenth Amendment "require[s]" a "state to issue a marriage license to two people of the same sex", and/or "to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed" in another state or jurisdiction. This Teleforum previewed the strongest and weakest points of argument for each side in the case.
Prof. Gerard V. Bradley, University of Notre Dame Law School
Prof. Ilya Somin, George Mason University School of Law
On April 23, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Horne v. Department of Agriculture. This case presents three questions. The first is whether the government is required by the Fifth Amendment to pay just compensation when seizing personal property as it must do for real property. The second question is whether the government is exempt from paying just compensation when it seizes personal property if the owner of the property maintains a "contingent interest" in a share of the value of the property. The third question is whether the government's requirement that property owners hand over specific property in order to be permitted to put their crop on the market amounts to a taking.
To discuss the case, we have John Elwood, who is a partner in the Washington, DC office of Vinson&Elkins.
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?
On April 20, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Johnson v. United States. This case concerns two questions. The first is whether mere possession of a short-barreled shotgun should be treated as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act. The second question asks whether the residual clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act, which mandates that a minimum sentence of fifteen years be imposed upon someone who unlawfully possesses a firearm and has had three prior "violent felony" convictions--with the phrase “violent felony” including any crime that “involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another”--is unconstitutionally vague.
To discuss the case, we have Richard Myers who is the Henry Brandis Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law.
On January 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett. The issue in this case is whether, when courts interpret collective bargaining agreements in Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) cases, they should assume that silence concerning the duration of retiree health-care benefits means the parties intended those benefits to vest (and therefore continue indefinitely), or should require that it be stated explicitly (or at least stated in some way) that health-care benefits are intended to endure after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Thomas, the Court held unanimously that when determining whether retiree benefits should continue indefinitely after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement, courts should apply ordinary contract principles. Those principles do not support a presumption that the agreement reflects an intent to vest retirees with lifetime benefits. The judgment of the Sixth Circuit was vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings. Justice Ginsburg filed a concurring opinion, which Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.
To discuss the case, we have Michael DeBoer, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Faulkner University School of Law.