Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Today the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in Shoop v. Twyford. Chief Justice Roberts authors the majority opinion, joined by Justices Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. The case involves Twyford’s request to be transported to a hospital for medical testing that he argued could support his claim for habeas relief. The district court granted Twyford’s request under the All Writs Act.
The Supreme Court reverses the transportation order, noting the many obstacles that AEDPA imposes on individuals seeking to present new evidence in support of a habeas petition. Chief Justice Roberts writes that a court must consider AEDPA’s limits “even when the All Writs Act is the asserted vehicle for gathering new evidence,” because “a petitioner cannot use that Act to circumvent statutory requirements or otherwise binding procedural rules.” The district court should not have granted Twyford’s request for transportation because he “sheds no light on how he might persuade a court to consider the results of his testing, given the limitations AEDPA imposes on presenting new evidence.”
The four dissenting justices do not address the substance of Twyford’s transportation request. Rather, the core disagreement is over appellate jurisdiction. In a lengthy footnote, Chief Justice Roberts concludes that appellate jurisdiction is proper under the collateral order doctrine, citing Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp., 337 U. S. 541, 546 (1949): “Transportation orders issued under the All Writs Act (1) conclusively require transportation; (2) resolve an important question of state sovereignty conceptually distinct from the merits of the prisoner’s claims, see Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority v. Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., 506 U. S. 139, 144–145 (1993); and (3) are entirely unreviewable by the time the case has gone to final judgment.”
Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, argues that the collateral order doctrine does not apply, reasoning that the transportation order was “analogous to a discovery order” and that there was “no reason why such an order ordinarily should be of greater importance than a discovery order of some other kind.” Justice Gorsuch writes in his dissenting opinion: “I would have dismissed this case as improvidently granted when the jurisdictional complication became apparent. We did not take this case to extend Cohen.”