Monday, May 21, 2018

SCOTUS Grants Cert in Jam v. International Finance Corporation: Immunity for International Organizations

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Jam v. International Finance Corp., limited to the following question:

Whether the International Organizations Immunities Act—which affords international organizations the “same immunity” from suit that foreign governments have, 22 U.S.C. § 288a(b)— confers the same immunity on such organizations as foreign governments have under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1602-11.

You can find all the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the newly e-friendly Supreme Court website.

May 21, 2018 in Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 14, 2018

SCOTUS Decision on Mootness: United States v. Sanchez-Gomez

Today the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in United States v. Sanchez-Gomez, covered earlier here. The opinion, by Chief Justice Roberts, begins:

Four criminal defendants objected to being bound by full restraints during pretrial proceedings in their cases, but the District Court denied relief. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the use of such restraints was unconstitutional, even though each of the four criminal cases had ended prior to its decision. The question presented is whether the appeals were saved from mootness either because the defendants sought “class-like relief” in a “functional class action,” or because the challenged practice was “capable of repetition, yet evading review.”

The Court rejected both theories and found that the case was moot. In conclusion, however, Chief Justice Roberts observed:

None of this is to say that those who wish to challenge the use of full physical restraints in the Southern District lack any avenue for relief. In the course of this litigation the parties have touched upon several possible options. See, e.g., Tr. of Oral Arg. 12 (indicating circumstances under which detainees could bring a civil suit). Because we hold this case moot, we take no position on the question.

 

 

May 14, 2018 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ninth Circuit Decision in United States v. County of Maricopa: Joe Arpaio, Policymaker Liability & Issue Preclusion

Yesterday the Ninth Circuit issued a unanimous decision in United States v. County of Maricopa. The opinion begins:

The United States brought this action to halt racially discriminatory policing policies instituted by Joseph Arpaio, the former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Under Arpaio’s leadership, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) routinely targeted Latino drivers and passengers for pretextual traffic stops aimed at detecting violations of federal immigration law. Based on that and other unlawful conduct, the United States sued Arpaio, MCSO, and the County of Maricopa under two statutes: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, and 34 U.S.C. § 12601 (formerly codified at 42 U.S.C. § 14141). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the United States on the claims relating to the unlawful traffic stops; the parties settled the remaining claims. Maricopa County is the lone appellant here. Its main contention is that it cannot be held liable for the unlawful traffic-stop policies implemented by Arpaio.

The panel’s decision affirms the district court’s ruling. It concludes that: (1) Arpaio was a final policymaker for the county; (2) policymaker liability applies under Title VI and § 12601; and (3) the county is bound as a matter of issue preclusion by the findings in the earlier litigation against Arpaio.

 

 

 

May 8, 2018 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 30, 2018

SCOTUS Cert Grant on Interpreting Arbitration Agreements to Authorize Class Arbitration

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela, which presents the question:

Whether the Federal Arbitration Act forecloses a state-law interpretation of an arbitration agreement that would authorize class arbitration based solely on general language commonly used in arbitration agreements.

You can find all the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the newly e-friendly Supreme Court website.

 

 

April 30, 2018 in Class Actions, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUS Cert Grant on Cy Pres Class Action Awards

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Frank v. Gaos, which presents the question:

Whether, or in what circumstances, a cy pres award of class action proceeds that provides no direct relief to class members supports class certification and comports with the requirement that a settlement binding class members must be “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”

You can find all the cert-stage briefing—and follow the merits briefs as they come in—at SCOTUSblog and at the newly e-friendly Supreme Court website.

 

 

April 30, 2018 in Class Actions, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

SCOTUS Decision in Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a 7-2 decision in Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, covered earlier here. Justice Thomas’s majority opinion begins:

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, 35 U. S. C. §100 et seq., establishes a process called “inter partes review.” Under that process, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is authorized to reconsider and to cancel an issued patent claim in limited circumstances. In this case, we address whether inter partes review violates Article III or the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution. We hold that it violates neither.

Justice Gorsuch writes a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, arguing that the statutory scheme violates Article III: “Today’s decision may not represent a rout but it at least signals a retreat from Article III’s guarantees.”

 

 

 

April 25, 2018 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

SCOTUS Decision in Jesner v. Arab Bank: Corporate Liability under the Alien Tort Statute

Today the Supreme Court issued its decision in Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC, which addresses whether corporations may be liable in actions brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. § 1350. It’s a fractured decision, as evidenced by the following notation at the end of the syllabus:

KENNEDY, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II–B–1, and II–C, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, ALITO, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts II–A, II–B–2, II–B–3, and III, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, J., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion. ALITO, J., and GORSUCH, J., filed opinions concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and KAGAN, JJ., joined.

There are 85 pages worth of opinions, but the very brief takeaway (from Part II-B-1 of Justice Kennedy’s opinion, slip op. at 19) is that “absent further action from Congress it would be inappropriate for courts to extend ATS liability to foreign corporations.”

And from Part II-C, slip op. at 27: “Accordingly, the Court holds that foreign corporations may not be defendants in suits brought under the ATS.”

Justice Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion argues that foreign corporations should not be categorically immune from liability under the ATS.

 

 

April 24, 2018 in Federal Courts, International/Comparative Law, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 23, 2018

Ninth Circuit: Monkey satisfies Article III, but lacks statutory standing under Copyright Act

Today a panel of the Ninth Circuit issued its decision in Naruto v. Slater (the Monkey Selfie case), covered earlier here. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) brought suit as the next friend of Naruto, who “was a seven-year-old crested macaque that lived—and may still live—in a reserve on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.” The majority opinion by Judge Carlos Bea begins:

We must determine whether a monkey may sue humans, corporations, and companies for damages and injunctive relief arising from claims of copyright infringement. Our court’s precedent requires us to conclude that the monkey’s claim has standing under Article III of the United States Constitution. Nonetheless, we conclude that this monkey—and all animals, since they are not human—lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act.

Although the majority opinion stated that “[w]e gravely doubt that PETA can validly assert ‘next friend’ status to represent claims made for the monkey,” it wrote:

Even so, we must proceed to the merits because Naruto’s lack of a next friend does not destroy his standing to sue, as having a ‘case or controversy’ under Article III of the Constitution. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17, which authorizes “next friend” lawsuits, obligates the court “to consider whether [incompetent parties] are adequately protected,” even where they have no “next friend” or “guardian.” U.S. v. 30.64 Acres of Land, 795 F.2d 796, 805 (9th Cir. 1986). Within this obligation, the court has “broad discretion and need not appoint a guardian ad litem [or next friend] if it determines the person is or can be otherwise adequately protected.” Id. (citing Roberts v. Ohio Casualty Ins. Co., 2556 F.2d 35, 39 (5th Cir. 1958) (“Rule 17(c) does not make the appointment of a guardian ad litem mandatory.”)). See also Harris v. Mangum, 863 F.3d 1133, 1139 n.2 (9th Cir. 2017) (noting circumstances in which “appointing a guardian ad litem . . . could hinder the purpose of Rule 17(c),” and thus was not required). For example, “the court may find that the incompetent person’s interests would be adequately protected by the appointment of a lawyer.” Krain v. Smallwood, 880 F.2d 1119, 1121 (9th Cir. 1989) (citing Westcott v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co., 158 F.2d 20, 22 (4th Cir. 1946). Indeed, courts have done just this, and the fact that those courts did not then dismiss the case proves that the lack of a next friend does not destroy an incompetent party’s standing. See, e.g., Westcott, 158 F.2d at 22 (affirming judgment against minor who was represented by an attorney but not a guardian ad litem).

Proceeding to Naruto’s constitutional standing, the majority concluded that Naruto’s claim satisfied Article III:

Here, the complaint alleges that Naruto is the author and owner of the Monkey Selfies. The complaint further alleges that Naruto has suffered concrete and particularized economic harms as a result of the infringing conduct by the Appellees, harms that can be redressed by a judgment declaring Naruto as the author and owner of the Monkey Selfies.

In reaching these conclusions, the majority found that it was bound by an earlier Ninth Circuit decision—Cetacean Cmty. v. Bush, 386 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 2004). In a footnote, however, the majority argued that Cetacean was “incorrectly decided” and “needs reexamination.”

Ultimately, the panel found that the district court correctly dismissed the case because “Naruto—and, more broadly, animals other than humans—lack statutory standing to sue under the Copyright Act.”

Judge N.R. Smith wrote a concurring opinion that disagreed with the majority’s handling of PETA’s lack of next-friend standing.

 

 

 

April 23, 2018 in Current Affairs, Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Standing, Subject Matter Jurisdiction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Seventh Circuit Affirms Nationwide Injunction in "Sanctuary Cities" Case

Today the Seventh Circuit issued its decision in City of Chicago v. Sessions. The court upheld an injunction blocking the Trump administration from imposing restrictions on recipients of federal public safety grants. Those restrictions included what is known as the “notice” condition, “mandating advance notice to federal authorities of the release date of persons in state or local custody who are believed to be aliens,” and what is known as the “access” condition, which “required the local correctional facility to ensure agents access to such facilities and meet with those persons.”

Among other things, Judge Rovner’s majority opinion (joined by Judge Bauer) affirmed the district court’s decision to impose an injunction on a nationwide basis:

The case before us presents an example of the type of case in which a district court should properly be able to apply an injunction nationwide. The case presents essentially a facial challenge to a policy applied nationwide, the balance of equities favors nationwide relief, and the format of the Byrne JAG grant itself renders individual relief ineffective to provide full relief. 

Judge Manion dissented in part, arguing that “the entry of the nationwide injunction constituted an overstep of the district court’s authority.”

 

 

April 19, 2018 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

FRAP 42 and the Monkey Selfie

Last week the Ninth Circuit issued an order denying a joint motion to dismiss the appeal in NARUTO, a Crested Macaque, by and through his Next Friends, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc., v. DAVID JOHN SLATER (a.k.a. the Monkey Selfie case). Here is the full order:

Download Naruto v Slater (Order 4-13-2018)

Having reached a settlement, the parties moved—two months after oral argument—to dismiss the appeal and to vacate the lower court’s judgment. In denying the motion, the court noted that voluntary dismissals are permissive, not mandatory, under FRAP 42, and that “denying the motion to dismiss and declining to vacate the lower court judgment prevents the parties from manipulating precedent in a way that suits their institutional preferences.”

The court also observed that Naruto himself was not a party to the settlement between PETA and the appellees.

More coverage here and here

 

 

 

April 18, 2018 in Current Affairs, Federal Courts, Recent Decisions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

SCOTUS Decision in Wilson v. Sellers: Habeas Review of Unexplained State Court Decisions

Today the Supreme Court issued its decision in Wilson v. Sellers, covered earlier here. The Court splits 6-3 over the proper standard for assessing unexplained state court decisions in the context of federal habeas proceedings. Justice Breyer writes the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Gorsuch writes a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Thomas and Alito.

Justice Breyer’s majority opinion begins:

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) requires a prisoner who challenges (in a federal habeas court) a matter “adjudicated on the merits in State court” to show that the relevant state-court “decision” (1) “was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law,” or (2) “was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.” 28 U. S. C. §2254(d). Deciding whether a state court’s decision “involved” an unreasonable application of federal law or “was based on” an unreasonable determination of fact requires the federal habeas court to “train its attention on the particular reasons—both legal and factual—why state courts rejected a state prisoner’s federal claims,” Hittson v. Chatman, 576 U. S. ___, ___ (2015) (GINSBURG, J., concurring in denial of certiorari) (slip op., at 1), and to give appropriate deference to that decision, Harrington v. Richter, 562 U. S. 86, 101–102 (2011).

When the last state court to address the merits of the petitioner’s claims does not provide any reasons, however, this inquiry is “more difficult.” Here’s what federal the federal habeas court should do:

We hold that the federal court should “look through” the unexplained decision to the last related state-court decision that does provide a relevant rationale. It should then presume that the unexplained decision adopted the same reasoning. But the State may rebut the presumption by showing that the unexplained affirmance relied or most likely did rely on different grounds than the lower state court’s decision, such as alternative grounds for affirmance that were briefed or argued to the state supreme court or obvious in the record it reviewed.

This “look through” approach is different from the one urged by the State (and by the dissenters). That approach would have precluded federal habeas relief as long as a reasonable basis “could have supported” the state court’s rejection of the petitioner’s claims.

The big question going forward will be what is required to rebut the majority’s look-through presumption. One particular issue will be the extent to which the unreasonableness of the looked-through-to lower state court opinion will itself be a basis for rebutting the presumption that the highest state court adopted that same unreasonable reasoning. Justice Breyer indicates that “it is more likely that a state supreme court’s single word ‘affirm’ rests upon alternative grounds where the lower state court decision is unreasonable than, e.g., where the lower court rested on a state-law procedural ground” and that “the unreasonableness of the lower court’s decision itself provides some evidence that makes it less likely the state supreme court adopted the same reasoning.”

Justice Gorsuch’s dissent emphasizes this aspect of the majority opinion, calling it “welcome news of a sort.” He writes: “If, as the Court holds, the ‘look through’ presumption can be rebutted ‘where the lower state court decision is unreasonable,’ it’s hard to see what good it does.” It is not clear that the majority’s opinion goes as far as Justice Gorsuch suggests. But what will be sufficient to rebut the majority’s look-through presumption is likely to be a major issue in the wake of the Court’s decision.

 

 

 

 

April 17, 2018 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

SCOTUS Per Curiam Decision on Qualified Immunity

This week, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Kisela v. Hughes, reversing the Ninth Circuit without hearing oral argument. From the Court’s per curiam opinion:

Petitioner Andrew Kisela, a police officer in Tucson, Arizona, shot respondent Amy Hughes. Kisela and two other officers had arrived on the scene after hearing a police radio report that a woman was engaging in erratic behavior with a knife. They had been there but a few minutes, perhaps just a minute. When Kisela fired, Hughes was holding a large kitchen knife, had taken steps toward another woman standing nearby, and had refused to drop the knife after at least two commands to do so. The question is whether at the time of the shooting Kisela’s actions violated clearly established law. * * *

Here, the Court need not, and does not, decide whether Kisela violated the Fourth Amendment when he used deadly force against Hughes. For even assuming a Fourth Amendment violation occurred—a proposition that is not at all evident—on these facts Kisela was at least entitled to qualified immunity. * * *

Kisela says he shot Hughes because, although the officers themselves were in no apparent danger, he believed she was a threat to Chadwick. Kisela had mere seconds to assess the potential danger to Chadwick. He was confronted with a woman who had just been seen hacking a tree with a large kitchen knife and whose behavior was erratic enough to cause a concerned bystander to call 911 and then flag down Kisela and Garcia. Kisela was separated from Hughes and Chadwick by a chain-link fence; Hughes had moved to within a few feet of Chadwick; and she failed to acknowledge at least two commands to drop the knife. Those commands were loud enough that Chadwick, who was standing next to Hughes, heard them. This is far from an obvious case in which any competent officer would have known that shooting Hughes to protect Chadwick would violate the Fourth Amendment.

Justice Sotomayor authored a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Ginsburg. The dissent begins:

Officer Andrew Kisela shot Amy Hughes while she was speaking with her roommate, Sharon Chadwick, outside of their home. The record, properly construed at this stage, shows that at the time of the shooting: Hughes stood stationary about six feet away from Chadwick, appeared “composed and content,” Appellant’s Excerpts of Record 109 (Record), and held a kitchen knife down at her side with the blade facing away from Chadwick. Hughes was nowhere near the officers, had committed no illegal act, was suspected of no crime, and did not raise the knife in the direction of Chadwick or anyone else. Faced with these facts, the two other responding officers held their fire, and one testified that he “wanted to continue trying verbal command[s] and see if that would work.” Id., at 120. But not Kisela. He thought it necessary to use deadly force, and so, without giving a warning that he would open fire, he shot Hughes four times, leaving her seriously injured.

If this account of Kisela’s conduct sounds unreasonable, that is because it was. And yet, the Court today insulates that conduct from liability under the doctrine of qualified immunity, holding that Kisela violated no “clearly established” law. See ante, at 5–6. I disagree.

 

 

 

April 4, 2018 in Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

SCOTUS Decision in Hall v. Hall: Appellate Jurisdiction and Consolidation

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Hall v. Hall (covered earlier here). Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion begins:

Three Terms ago, we held that one of multiple cases consolidated for multidistrict litigation under 28 U. S. C. §1407 is immediately appealable upon an order disposing of that case, regardless of whether any of the others remain pending. Gelboim v. Bank of America Corp., 574 U. S. ___ (2015). We left open, however, the question whether the same is true with respect to cases consolidated under Rule 42(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Id., at ___, n. 4 (slip op., at 7, n. 4). This case presents that question.

And the answer to that question is yes:

Rule 42(a) did not purport to alter the settled understanding of the consequences of consolidation. That understanding makes clear that when one of several consolidated cases is finally decided, a disappointed litigant is free to seek review of that decision in the court of appeals.

 

 

March 28, 2018 in Federal Courts, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Another March Madness Elimination: Stipulated Dismissal in Salt River

We covered earlier the Supreme Court’s cert grant in the Salt River case, which presents the question: “Whether orders denying state-action immunity to public entities are immediately appealable under the collateral-order doctrine.” This week, the parties entered into a Stipulation of Dismissal pursuant to Sup. Ct. R. 46, taking the case off the Court’s docket.

Disappointed appellate-jurisdiction junkies may perhaps find solace in the jurisdictional portion of yesterday’s Ayestas decision.

 

 

 

March 22, 2018 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

SCOTUS Decision in Ayestas v. Davis

Today the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Ayestas v. Davis, which involves a capital habeas petitioner seeking funding for investigative services, as authorized by 18 U.S.C. § 3599. Justice Alito’s opinion concludes that the courts below applied the wrong legal standard in denying Ayestas’s motion for funding and remands for further proceedings to apply the correct legal standard.

First, however, the Court confronts the question of whether appellate courts—including the Supreme Court—have jurisdiction to review a district court’s denial of such a request for funding. Here’s how Justice Alito tees up the issue:

When the District Court denied petitioner’s funding request and his habeas petition, he took an appeal to the Fifth Circuit under 28 U. S. C. §§1291 and 2253, which grant the courts of appeals jurisdiction to review final “decisions” and “orders” of a district court. And when the Fifth Circuit affirmed, petitioner sought review in this Court under §1254, which gives us jurisdiction to review “[c]ases” in the courts of appeals. As respondent correctly notes, these provisions confer jurisdiction to review decisions made by a district court in a judicial capacity. But we have recognized that not all decisions made by a federal court are “judicial” in nature; some decisions are properly understood to be “administrative,” and in that case they are “not subject to our review.” Hohn v. United States, 524 U. S. 236, 245 (1998).

The need for federal judges to make many administrative decisions is obvious. The Federal Judiciary, while tiny in comparison to the Executive Branch, is nevertheless a large and complex institution, with an annual budget exceeding $7 billion and more than 32,000 employees. See Administrative Office of the U. S. Courts, The Judiciary FY 2018 Congressional Budget Summary Revised 9–10 (June 2017). Administering this operation requires many “decisions” in the ordinary sense of the term—decisions about such things as facilities, personnel, equipment, supplies, and rules of procedure. In re Application for Exemption from Electronic Pub. Access Fees by Jennifer Gollan and Shane Shifflett, 728 F. 3d 1033, 1037 (CA9 2013). It would be absurd to suggest that every “final decision” on any such matter is appealable under §1291 or reviewable in this Court under §1254. See Hohn, supra; 15A C. Wright, A. Miller, & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure §3903, pp. 134–135 (2d ed. 1992). Such administrative decisions are not the kind of decisions or orders—i.e., decisions or orders made in a judicial capacity—to which the relevant jurisdictional provisions apply.

The Court concludes that the district court’s funding decision “does not remotely resemble the sort of administrative decisions noted above.” It is therefore subject to appellate review under the usual jurisdictional provisions.

Justice Sotomayor authors a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Ginsburg, arguing that—under the proper legal standard—“there should be little doubt that Ayestas has satisfied §3599(f)” and is entitled to funding.

 

 

 

 

 

March 21, 2018 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Supreme Court decision in Cyan: SLUSA & state court jurisdiction over 1933 Securities Act class actions

Today the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Cyan, Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund. In an opinion authored by Justice Kagan, the Court addresses the effect of the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (SLUSA) on class actions that allege violations of only the Securities Act of 1933 (which governs the original issuance of securities). The defendants argued that SLUSA deprives state courts of jurisdiction over such class actions. The Solicitor General proposed what Justice Kagan called a “halfway-house position,” whereby state courts have jurisdiction but defendants may remove such class actions to federal court.

The Court unanimously rejects both arguments. First, the Court holds that state courts retain jurisdiction over class actions that allege only 1933 Act violations: “SLUSA’s text, read most straightforwardly, leaves in place state courts’ jurisdiction over 1933 Act claims, including when brought in class actions.” Second, the Court holds that when such class actions are filed in state court, they may not be removed to federal court. SLUSA did not exempt such class actions from the general bar on removal currently codified at 15 U.S.C. § 77v(a).

 

 

 

March 20, 2018 in Class Actions, Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, State Courts, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Ninth Circuit Denies Federal Government's Mandamus Petition in Climate Change Suit

Today the Ninth Circuit issued its decision in In re United States of America (earlier coverage of the case here). As the opinion describes the litigation: “Twenty-one young plaintiffs brought suit against the United States, the President, and various Executive Branch officials and agencies, alleging that the defendants have contributed to climate change in violation of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.”

The district court had denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, prompting the defendants to seek a writ of mandamus from the Ninth Circuit. Chief Judge Sidney Thomas authors a unanimous opinion denying the government’s petition without prejudice. The opinion is joined by Judges Marsha Berzon and Michelle Friedland. Judge Alex Kozinski was on the panel when oral argument occurred, but he was replaced by Judge Friedland following his retirement.

Judge Thomas’s opinion is structured around the Bauman factors—which have long guided the Ninth Circuit when it comes to mandamus petitions. They are:

(1) whether the petitioner has no other means, such as a direct appeal, to obtain the desired relief; (2) whether the petitioner will be damaged or prejudiced in any way not correctable on appeal; (3) whether the district court’s order is clearly erroneous as a matter of law; (4) whether the district court’s order is an oft repeated error or manifests a persistent disregard of the federal rules; and (5) whether the district court’s order raises new and important problems or issues of first impression.

Here are the opinion’s concluding paragraphs:

We are mindful that some of the plaintiffs’ claims as currently pleaded are quite broad, and some of the remedies the plaintiffs seek may not be available as redress. However, the district court needs to consider those issues further in the first instance. Claims and remedies often are vastly narrowed as litigation proceeds; we have no reason to assume this case will be any different. Nor would the defendants be precluded from reasserting a challenge to standing, particularly as to redressability, once the record is more fully developed, or from seeking mandamus in the future, if circumstances justify it. And the defendants retain the option of asking the district court to certify orders for interlocutory appeal of later rulings, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).

Because petitioners have not satisfied the Bauman factors, we deny the petition without prejudice. Absent any discovery order, the mandamus petition is premature insofar as it is premised on a fear of burdensome discovery. The issues pertaining to the merits of this case can be resolved by the district court, in a future appeal, or, if extraordinary circumstances later present themselves, by mandamus relief. For these reasons, we decline to exercise our discretion to grant mandamus relief at this stage of the litigation.

 

 

 

March 7, 2018 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Standing, Subject Matter Jurisdiction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 2, 2018

SCOTUS Issues Stay in Federal Arbitration Act Case

Today the Supreme Court granted a stay in Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer and White Sales, Inc. Here’s the full order:

The application for stay presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is granted, and the proceedings in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, case No. 2:12-cv-572, are stayed pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari. Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate upon the sending down of the judgment of this Court.

As the applicant-soon-to-be-petitioner’s application puts it:

This case presents a straightforward conflict among the courts of appeals on an important and frequently recurring question involving the FAA. There is an entrenched conflict on the question whether a court may decline to compel arbitration where the court determines that the claim for arbitration depends on a purportedly “wholly groundless” interpretation of the parties’ arbitration agreement.

 

 

March 2, 2018 in Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Justices discuss class actions in Jennings v. Rodriguez

In this week’s Jennings v. Rodriguez decision, the Supreme Court rules 5-3 that certain noncitizens detained in the course of immigration proceedings have no statutory right to periodic bond hearings. The Court remands the case, however, to address the plaintiffs’ constitutional arguments.

All three opinions in the case have something to say about class actions—Justice Alito’s (mostly) majority opinion, Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion, and Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion. In remanding the case for the Ninth Circuit to consider the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims, Justice Alito writes:

[T]he Court of Appeals should consider on remand whether it may issue classwide injunctive relief based on respondents’ constitutional claims. If not, and if the Court of Appeals concludes that it may issue only declaratory relief, then the Court of Appeals should decide whether that remedy can sustain the class on its own. See, e. g., Rule 23(b)(2) (requiring “that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief [be] appropriate respecting the class as a whole” (emphasis added)).

The Court of Appeals should also consider whether a Rule 23(b)(2) class action continues to be the appropriate vehicle for respondents’ claims in light of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U. S. 338 (2011). We held in Dukes that “Rule 23(b)(2) applies only when a single injunction or declaratory judgment would provide relief to each member of the class.” Id., at 360. That holding may be relevant on remand because the Court of Appeals has already acknowledged that some members of the certified class may not be entitled to bond hearings as a constitutional matter. See, e. g., 804 F. 3d, at 1082; 715 F. 3d, at 1139–1141 (citing, e. g., Shaughnessy v. United States ex rel. Mezei, 345 U. S. 206 (1953)). Assuming that is correct, then it may no longer be true that the complained-of “‘conduct is such that it can be enjoined or declared unlawful only as to all of the class members or as to none of them.’” Dukes, supra, at 360 (quoting Nagareda, Class Certification in the Age of Aggregate Proof, 84 N. Y. U. L. Rev. 97, 132 (2009)).

Similarly, the Court of Appeals should also consider on remand whether a Rule 23(b)(2) class action litigated on common facts is an appropriate way to resolve respondents’ Due Process Clause claims. “[D]ue process is flexible,” we have stressed repeatedly, and it “calls for such procedural protections as the particular situation demands.” Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U. S. 471, 481 (1972); see also Landon v. Plasencia, 459 U. S. 21, 34 (1982).

Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion responds:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) permits a class action where “final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole.” (Emphasis added.) And the Advisory Committee says that declaratory relief can fall within the Rule’s term “corresponding” if it “serves as a basis for later injunctive relief.” Notes on Rule 23(b)(2)–1966 Amendment, 28 U. S. C. App., p. 812.

* * *

Neither does Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U. S. 338 (2011), bar these class actions. Every member of each class seeks the same relief (a bail hearing), every member has been denied that relief, and the differences in situation among members of the class are not relevant to their entitlement to a bail hearing.

And Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion flags in a footnote the issue of whether class actions can seek a habeas corpus remedy: “This Court has never addressed whether habeas relief can be pursued in a class action. See Schall v. Martin, 467 U. S. 253, 261, n. 10 (1984) (reserving this question). I take no position on that issue here, since I conclude that respondents are not seeking habeas relief in the first place.”

(H/T: Adam Zimmerman)

 

 

 

March 1, 2018 in Class Actions, Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

SCOTUS Decision in Patchak v. Zinke: Gun Lake Act Does Not Violate Article III

Today the Supreme Court issued its decision in Patchak v. Zinke, covered earlier here. By a 6-3 vote—and with no majority opinion—the Court rules that the Gun Lake Act does not violate Article III. Justice Thomas writes the plurality opinion, joined by Justices Breyer, Alito, and Kagan. Justice Ginsburg writes a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Sotomayor. And Chief Justice Roberts writes a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Kennedy and Gorsuch. Justice Breyer and Justice Sotomayor also write separate concurring opinions. There’s a lot to digest, but here’s a quick breakdown...

The Gun Lake Act involved claims regarding land known as the Bradley property, which was the subject of a lawsuit by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians. The Act provided in § 2(b):

NO CLAIMS.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an action (including an action pending in a Federal court as of the date of enactment of this Act) relating to the land described in subsection (a) shall not be filed or maintained in a Federal court and shall be promptly dismissed.

Justice Thomas’s plurality opinion finds no Article III violation because:

Section 2(b) changes the law. Specifically, it strips federal courts of jurisdiction over actions “relating to” the Bradley Property. Before the Gun Lake Act, federal courts had jurisdiction to hear these actions. See 28 U. S. C. §1331. Now they do not. This kind of legal change is well within Congress’ authority and does not violate Article III.

Justice Ginsburg’s concurring opinion reads the Gun Lake Act as concerning solely sovereign immunity:

What Congress grants, it may retract. That is undoubtedly true of the Legislature’s authority to forgo or retain the Government’s sovereign immunity from suit. The Court need venture no further to decide this case.

Chief Justices Roberts’ dissenting opinion begins:

Two Terms ago, this Court unanimously agreed that Congress could not pass a law directing that, in the hypothetical pending case of Smith v. Jones, “Smith wins.” Bank Markazi v. Peterson, 578 U. S. ___, ___, n. 17 (2016) (slip op., at 13, n. 17). Today, the plurality refuses to enforce even that limited principle in the face of a very real statute that dictates the disposition of a single pending case. Contrary to the plurality, I would not cede unqualified authority to the Legislature to decide the outcome of such a case. Article III of the Constitution vests that responsibility in the Judiciary alone.

(Full disclosure, I joined an amicus brief on behalf of federal courts scholars in support of the petitioner in this case).

 

 

February 27, 2018 in Federal Courts, Recent Decisions, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)