On November 4, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Shapiro v. McManus. In this case several Maryland citizens sued state election officials claiming that a 2011 redistricting plan violated their rights to political association and equal representation under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Although federal law normally requires such claims to be heard by a three-judge federal court, a single judge dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed.
The question before the Supreme Court is whether a single-judge federal district court may determine that a claim governed by the Three-Judge Court Act is insubstantial, and that three judges therefore are not required--not because it concludes that the complaint is wholly frivolous, but because it concludes that the complaint fails to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
To discuss the case, we have Michael T. Morley, who is Assistant Professor at Barry University School of Law.
On October 5, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs. This case involves a dispute regarding whether federal courts have jurisdiction over a lawsuit brought by Carol Sachs against OBB Personenverkher--the Austrian national railroad--when her legs were crushed by a train in Austria while she was using a Eurail Pass that she had purchased in the United States.
The question before the Supreme Court is twofold: (1) whether common law principles of agency apply in determining whether an entity is an “agent” of a foreign state under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA); and (2) whether, under the first clause of the commercial activity exception of the FSIA, a tort claim for personal injuries suffered in connection with travel outside of the United States is “based upon” the allegedly tortious conduct occurring outside of the United States, or the preceding sale of the ticket in the United States for the travel entirely outside the United States.
To discuss the case, we have Edwin D. Williamson, who is Of Counsel at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.
On November 9, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Mullenix v. Luna without oral argument. The question in this case was whether a police officer who shot at the car of a fleeing and purportedly armed suspect, killing him in the process, was entitled to qualified immunity from suit. The Fifth Circuit had affirmed the lower court’s denial of qualified immunity to the officer.
By a vote of 8-1 the Supreme Court reversed that determination, holding that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity because existing Supreme Court precedent did not place the conclusion that the officer acted unreasonably “beyond debate.”
The opinion of the Court was issued per curiam. Justice Scalia filed a concurring opinion. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion.
To discuss the case, we have Joshua A. Skinner, who is an Attorney at Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, P.C., in Dallas, Texas.
On October 14, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Campbell-Ewald Company v. Gomez.
This case concerns a complaint by Jose Gomez that Campbell-Ewald Company, a marketing consultant for the U.S. Navy, allowed a third-party vendor to send him unsolicited text messages in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Three questions are before the Court. The first is whether a case becomes moot when a plaintiff receives an offer of complete relief on his claim, and the second is whether the answer to that changes if the plaintiff is attempting to bring a class action. The third question is whether the doctrine of derivative sovereign immunity for government contractors is limited to claims arising out of property damage caused by public works projects.
To discuss the case, we have Mark Chenoweth, who is General Counsel at Washington Legal Foundation.
On October 14, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association and EnerNOC v. Electric Power Supply Association.
These consolidated cases involve the efforts of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to specify the methodology that operators in the wholesale electricity market use when compensating users for a commitment to reduce their consumption at particular times, a phenomenon known as “demand response.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit determined that FERC lacked statutory authority to impose such a methodology. The Supreme Court agreed to consider the following two questions:
(1) Whether FERC reasonably concluded that it has authority under the Federal Power Act to regulate the rules used by operators of wholesale electricity markets to pay for reductions in electricity consumption and to recoup those payments through adjustments to wholesale rates; and (2) Whether the D.C. Circuit erred in holding that the rule issued by FERC is arbitrary and capricious.
Justice Alito appears to be recused from this case.
To discuss the case, we have James Coleman, who is assistant professor at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Law and Haskayne School of Business.