On March 25, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Young v. United Parcel Service. This case concerns whether the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires an employer that provides work accommodations to employees who are not pregnant but have work limitations to provide similar accommodations to pregnant employees who share similar abilities and limitations. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer, agreeing that there was no genuine issue of material fact and that the employer was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
By a vote of 6-3, the Supreme Court vacated the Fourth Circuit’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. Viewing the record in the light most favorable to the pregnant employee, the Court stated, there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact: whether UPS provided more favorable treatment to at least some employees whose situation cannot reasonably be distinguished from that of the pregnant employee. The Court left open for resolution on remand, however, whether a genuine dispute of fact had been raised on the reasons UPS gave for treating the pregnant employee differently and whether they were simply a “pretext” for unlawful discrimination.
Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court, which Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined. Justice Alito filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion which Justices Kennedy and Thomas joined. Justice Kennedy also filed a dissenting opinion.
To discuss the case, we have Teresa Collett, who is a Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
On March 24, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency. The question in this case is whether the Environmental Protection Agency was acting unreasonably when it did not consider the costs of compliance in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities
To discuss the case, we have Jonathan Adler, who is the Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law; Director, Center for Business Law and Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
On March 9, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads. The question in this case is whether the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 unconstitutionally delegates legislative power to a putatively private entity--Amtrak--by involving it in the creation of standards used to determine whether freight railroads are according the preference to Amtrak’s passenger trains that is required by federal law regarding the use of rail lines.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, the Court held unanimously that for purposes of determining the validity of the metrics and standards issued by Amtrak, Amtrak is a governmental entity. Justices Kennedy's opinion for the Court was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Alito also filed a concurring opinion. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. The judgment of the D.C. Circuit was vacated and remanded for further proceedings.
To discuss the case, we have Prof. Alexander “Sasha” Volokh, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Emory University School of Law. Professor Volokh received his JD and PhD in economics from Harvard University. He regularly teaches a course on law and economics of anti-trust and has participated as an expert witness in cases involving anti-trust or before the FTC.
On February 25, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Yates v. United States. This case concerns whether Mr. Yates’ order to his crew to throw undersized fish back into the Gulf of Mexico during the course of a government wildlife investigation violated the "document shredding provision" of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which makes it a crime for anyone who “knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object” with the intent to impede or obstruct an investigation.
Justice Ginsburg announced the judgment of a divided Court, and delivered a plurality opinion concluding that for purposes of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a "tangible object" refers to an object used to record or preserve information. Justice Alito concurred, on somewhat narrower grounds.
Justice Ginsburg was joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Breyer and Sotomayor. Justice Alito filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Kagan filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas joined. The judgment of the Eleventh circuit was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings.
To discuss the case, we have Todd Braunstein who is Counsel at WilmerHale.
On March 2, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The first question in the case is whether Arizona’s reliance on a commission to draw up congressional districts rather than its state legislature violates the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution as well as Title 2 of the U.S. Code. The second question is whether the Arizona Legislature has standing to file suit against the commission.
To discuss the case, we have Derek Muller, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Pepperdine University School of Law.