On April 21, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Oneok, Inc. v. Learjet. The question in this case is whether the Natural Gas Act preempts state-law antitrust claims which challenge industry practices that directly affect the wholesale natural gas market when those claims are asserted by litigants who purchased gas in retail transactions.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Breyer, the Court held by a vote of 7-2 that although the Natural Gas Act occupies the field of matters relating to wholesale sales and transportation of natural gas in interstate commerce, the state law antitrust claims in this case may nevertheless proceed and are not preempted. Justice Breyer’s opinion for the Court was joined in full by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan, and by Justice Thomas except as to Part I-A. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, which Chief Justice Roberts joined. The judgment of the Ninth Circuit was affirmed.
To discuss the case, we have Daniel Lyons, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Boston College Law School.
On April 28, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges. This highly anticipated case concerned two questions. The first, is whether states are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The second question is whether states are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were lawfully married in a different state.
To discuss the case, we have John Eastman, who is the Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service at Chapman University Fowler 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.
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.