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.
On March 24, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Omnicare v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund. This case concerns Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, which authorizes suit by a purchaser of securities issued under a registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission if the registration statement “contained an untrue statement of material fact or omitted to state a material fact required to be stated therein or necessary to make the statement therein not misleading.”
The question here is whether a Section 11 plaintiff may plead that a statement of opinion was “untrue” merely by alleging that the opinion itself was objectively wrong, as the Sixth Circuit concluded in this case, or whether the plaintiff also must allege that the statement was subjectively false – requiring allegations that the speaker’s genuinely held opinion was different from the one expressed – as the Second, Third, and Ninth Circuits have held.
By a vote of 9-0 the Court vacated the judgment of the Sixth Circuit and remanded the case. In an opinion delivered by Justice Kagan, the Court held that a statement of opinion does not constitute an “untrue statement of . . . fact” for purposes of Section 11 simply because the stated opinion ultimately proves incorrect. Even so, the Court allowed that an omission could make an expression of opinion misleading if a reasonable investor would find that the facts omitted could not be squared with a fair reading of the registration statement as a whole. The Sixth Circuit must reassess plaintiff’s claim on remand applying this standard, the Court explained.
Justice Kagan's opinion was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor. Justice Scalia filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. Justice Thomas also filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.
To discuss the case, we have George Conway, who is a partner in the Litigation Department of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
On March 23, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc.
This cases concerns two First Amendment issues: The first is whether the content displayed on specialty license plates issued by the state is government speech that is immune from the First Amendment prohibition on viewpoint discrimination. The second question is whether Texas engaged in viewpoint discrimination when it rejected a license plate design with the image of the Confederate Flag, even though Texas had not issued license plate designs with a message or design contrary to that of the design proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
To discuss the case, we have Erik Jaffe, who is sole practitioner at Erik S. Jaffe, PC.