Opinions from 2015

White v. Wheeler
Docket Number: 14-1372
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: December 14, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: In 1997, Louisville police found the bodies of Malone and Warfield in their apartment. Malone had been stabbed. Warfield, then pregnant, had been strangled and scissors stuck out from her neck. Crime scene DNA matched Wh...

DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia
Docket Number: 14-462
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: December 14, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: DIRECTV and its customers entered into service agreements that included a binding arbitration provision with a class-arbitration waiver. It specified that the entire arbitration provision was unenforceable if the “law of...

Shapiro v. McManus
Docket Number: 14-990
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: December 8, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioners, a bipartisan group of citizens, requested that a three-judge court be convened to consider their claim that Maryland’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan burdens their First Amendment right of political a...

OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs
Docket Number: 13-1067
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: December 1, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Respondent, a California resident, filed suit against OBB, an Austrian state-owned railway, after she suffered injuries from falling off the railroad tracks at the Innsbruck, Austria, train station. Respondent had purcha...

Mullenix v. Luna
Docket Number: 14-1143
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: November 9, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Sergeant Baker, with a warrant, approached Leija’s car at a restaurant and stated that he was under arrest. Leija sped onto I-27. Leija led Baker and Texas Trooper Rodriguez on an 18-minute chase at 85-110 mph. Leija tw...

Maryland v. Kulbicki
Docket Number: 14-848
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: October 5, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Kulbicki shot his girlfriend during the weekend before a scheduled hearing about unpaid child support. At Kulbicki’s 1995 trial, an FBI Agent expert on Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis (CBLA) testified that the compositi...

Ariz. State Legislature v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n
Docket Number: 13-1314
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 29, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Under Arizona’s Constitution, voters may, by ballot initiative, adopt laws and constitutional amendments and may approve or disapprove measures passed by the legislature. Proposition 106 (2000), an initiative aimed preve...

Michigan v. Envtl. Prot. Agency
Docket Number: 14-46
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 29, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The Clean Air Act (CAA) directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants from stationary sources, such as refineries and factories, 42 U.S.C. 7412; it may regulate power...

Glossip v. Gross
Docket Number: 14-7955
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 29, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: After Oklahoma adopted lethal injection as its method of execution, it used a three-drug protocol of sodium thiopental (a barbiturate) to induce a state of unconsciousness; a paralytic agent to inhibit all muscular-skele...

Johnson v. United States
Docket Number: 13-7120
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 26, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: After Johnson pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g), the prosecution sought an enhanced sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act, which imposes an increased prison term upon a d...

Obergefell v. Hodges
Docket Number: 14-556
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 26, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Plaintiffs challenged the laws as violating the Fourteenth Amendment. The district courts ruled in their favor. The Sixth...

Texas Dep't of Hous, & Cmity Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.
Docket Number: 13-1371
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 25, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The federal government provides low-income housing tax credits that are distributed to developers by state agencies, including the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The Inclusive Communities Project (ICP...

King v. Burwell
Docket Number: 14-114
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 25, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C 18001) includes “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” requirements, which bar insurers from denying coverage or charging higher premiums based on health; requi...

Los Angeles v. Patel
Docket Number: 13-1175
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 22, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The city of Los Angeles requires hotel operators to record and keep specific information about their guests on the premises for a 90-day period, “available to any officer of the Los Angeles Police Department for inspecti...

Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, LLC
Docket Number: 13-720
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 22, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Marvel Entertainment’s corporate predecessor agreed to purchase Kimble’s patent for a Spider-Man toy in exchange for a lump sum plus a 3% royalty on future sales. The agreement set no end date for royalties. As the paten...

Horne v. Dep't of Agriculture
Docket Number: 14-275
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 22, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate orders to maintain stable markets for agricultural products. The marketing order for raisins established a Raisin Administrat...

Kingsley v. Hendrickson
Docket Number: 14-6368
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 22, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: While Kingsley was awaiting trial in county jail, officers forcibly removed him from his cell when he refused to comply with instructions. Kingsley filed a complaint claiming that two of the officers used excessive force...

Ohio v. Clark
Docket Number: 13-1352
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Clark sent his girlfriend to engage in prostitution while he cared for her 3-year-old son L.P. and 18-month-old daughter A.T. When L.P.’s preschool teachers noticed marks on his body, he identified Clark as his abuser. A...

Davis v. Ayala
Docket Number: 13-1428
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: During jury selection in Ayala’s murder trial, Ayala, who is Hispanic, objected that seven of the prosecution’s peremptory challenges were impermissibly race-based under Batson v. Kentucky. The judge permitted the prosec...

Brumfield v. Cain
Docket Number: 13-1433
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Brumfield was convicted of murder in a Louisiana court and sentenced to death before the Supreme Court held, in Atkins v. Virginia, that the Eighth Amendment prohibits execution of the intellectually disabled. The Louisi...

Reed v. Town of Gilbert
Docket Number: 13-502
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Gilbert, Arizona prohibits the display of outdoor signs without a permit, but exempts 23 categories. “Ideological Signs,” “communicating a message or ideas” that do not fit in any other category, may be up to 20 square f...

Walker v. Tex. Div., Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc.
Docket Number: 14-144
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Texas automobile owners can choose between general-issue and specialty license plates. People can propose a specialty plate design, with a slogan, a graphic, or both. If the Department of Motor Vehicles Board approves th...

McFadden v. United States
Docket Number: 14-378
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: McFadden was charged with violation of the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act, which identifies substances substantially similar to those listed on the federal controlled substances schedules, 21 U.S.C. 802(32...

Kerry v. Din
Docket Number: 13-1402
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 15, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Din petitioned to have her husband, Berashk, a resident citizen of Afghanistan and former civil servant in the Taliban regime, classified as an “immediate relative” entitled to priority immigration status. Din’s petition...

Baker Botts L.L.P. v. ASARCO LLC
Docket Number: 14-103
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 15, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: ASARCO hired the law firms to assist it in carrying out its duties as a Chapter 11 debtor in possession, 11 U.S.C. 327(a). When ASARCO emerged from bankruptcy, the law firms filed fee applications requesting fees under s...

Mata v. Lynch
Docket Number: 14-185
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 15, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: After Mata, an unlawful alien, was convicted of assault in a Texas court, an Immigration Judge ordered him removed to Mexico. Mata’s attorney filed notice of appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), but never...

Zivotofsky v. Kerry
Docket Number: 13-628
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 8, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Zivotofsky was born to U.S. citizens living in Jerusalem. Under the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 2003, 116 Stat. 1350, his mother asked Embassy officials to list his place of birth as “Israel” on his passport. Se...

Mellouli v. Lynch
Docket Number: 13-1034
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 1, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Mellouli, a lawful permanent resident, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense under Kansas law, the possession of drug paraphernalia “to . . . store [or] conceal . . . a controlled substance,” consisting of a sock in wh...

Bank of America, N. A. v. Caulkett
Docket Number: 13-1421
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 1, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Debtors filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; each owned a house encumbered by a senior mortgage lien and by a junior mortgage lien held by Bank of America. Because the amount owed on each senior mortgage is greater than each...

Elonis v. United States
Docket Number: 13-983
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 1, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Elonis used the Web site Facebook to post lyrics containing graphically violent language and imagery concerning his wife, co-workers, children, and law enforcement, interspersed with disclaimers that the lyrics were “fic...

Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.
Docket Number: 14-86
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 1, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Abercrombie refused to hire Elauf, a practicing Muslim, because the headscarf that she wore pursuant to her religious obligations conflicted with Abercrombie’s employee dress policy. The Equal Employment Opportunity Comm...

Taylor v. Barkes
Docket Number: 14-939
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: June 1, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Barkes was arrested in 2004, for violating probation, and taken to a Wilmington Delaware Correctional Institution. During intake, a nurse who worked for the contractor providing healthcare at the Institution conducted a...

Kellogg Brown & Root Servs., Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter
Docket Number: 12-1497
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: May 26, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Private parties may file civil qui tam actions to enforce the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729(a)(1). A qui tam action must be brought within six years of a violation, but the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act...

Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc.
Docket Number: 13-896
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: May 26, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Commil, holder of a patent for a method of implementing short-range wireless networks, sued, claiming that Cisco Systems, a maker and seller of wireless networking equipment, had directly infringed Commil’s patent in its...

Wellness Int’l Network, Ltd. v. Sharif
Docket Number: 13-935
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: May 26, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Sharif tried to discharge a debt to Wellness in his Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Wellness argued that a trust Sharif claimed to administer was actually Sharif’s alter ego, and that its assets were part of his bankruptcy estate....

Coleman v. Tollefson
Docket Number: 13-1333
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: May 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: A federal litigant who is too poor to pay court fees may proceed in forma pauperis and commence a civil action without prepaying fees or paying certain expenses, 28 U.S.C. 1915(a), but a “three strikes” provision prevent...

City & Cnty. of San Francisco v. Sheehan
Docket Number: 13-1412
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: May 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Sheehan lived in a group home for individuals with mental illness. After Sheehan threatened to kill her social worker, San Francisco dispatched officers to escort Sheehan to a facility for evaluation and treatment. When...

Henderson v. United States
Docket Number: 13-1487
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: May 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: After being charged with the felony offense of distributing marijuana, Henderson was required, as a condition of bail, to turn over firearms that he lawfully owned. Henderson pleaded guilty, and, as a felon, was prohibit...

Comptroller of Treasury of Md. v. Wynne
Docket Number: 13-485
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: May 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Maryland has a “state” income tax, Md. Tax-Gen. Code 10–105(a), and a “county” income tax, sections 10–103, 10–106. Residents who pay income tax to another jurisdiction for income earned in that other jurisdiction get a...

Tibble v. Edison Int’l
Docket Number: 13-550
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: May 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2007, beneficiaries of the Edison 401(k) Savings Plan sued Plan fiduciaries, to recover damages for alleged losses suffered because of alleged breaches of fiduciary duties. The beneficiaries claimed violations with re...

Harris v. Viegelahn
Docket Number: 14-400
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: May 18, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Harris filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. His court-confirmed plan provided that he would make monthly mortgage payments to Chase, and that $530 per month would be withheld from his post-petition wages and remitted...

Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank
Docket Number: 14-116
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: May 4, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: After filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Bullard submitted a proposed repayment plan. Bullard’s mortgage lender objected to the plan’s treatment of its claim. The Bankruptcy Court sustained the Bank’s objection and declin...

Mach Mining, LLC v. Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n
Docket Number: 13-1019
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: April 29, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Before suing for employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) must “endeavor to eliminate [the] alleged unlawful employment practice by inf...

Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar
Docket Number: 13-1499
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: April 29, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Florida voters elect judges. The Florida Supreme Court adopted Canon 7C(1) of its Code of Judicial Conduct, stating that judicial candidates “shall not personally solicit campaign funds . . . but may establish committees...

United States v. Wong
Docket Number: 13-1074
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: April 22, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) provides that a tort claim against the United States “shall be forever barred” unless presented to the appropriate federal agency for review within two years after the claim accrues,” 2...

Oneok, Inc. v. Learjet, Inc.
Docket Number: 13-271
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: April 21, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Institutions that buy natural gas directly from interstate pipelines sued, claiming that the pipelines had violated state antitrust laws: that they reported false information to the natural-gas indices on which natural-g...

Rodriguez v. United States
Docket Number: 13-9972
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: April 21, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Struble, a K–9 officer, stopped Rodriguez for driving on a highway shoulder, a violation of Nebraska law. Struble attended to everything relating to the stop, including checking the driver’s licenses of Rodriguez and his...

Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Ctr., Inc.
Docket Number: 14-15
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 31, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Providers of “habilitation services” under Idaho’s Medicaid plan are reimbursed by the state Department of Health and Welfare. Section 30(A) of the Medicaid Act requires Idaho’s plan to “assure that payments are consiste...

Grady v. North Carolina
Docket Number: 14-593
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 30, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Grady was convicted in North Carolina of a second degree sexual offense in 1997 and of taking indecent liberties with a child in 2006. After he served his sentence, the state held a hearing to determine whether he should...

Woods v. Donald
Docket Number: 14-618
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 30, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Donald, Liggins, Moore, Saine, and Zaya decided to rob a drug dealer (Makki). Donald, Moore, and Liggins drove to Makki’s home. Moore and Donald entered. Liggins waited in the car. McGinnis, a drug runner, was present, a...

Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc.
Docket Number: 12-1226
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 25, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act specifies that Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination applies to discrimination “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions,” 42 U.S.C...

Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama
Docket Number: 13-895
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 25, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2012 Alabama redrew the boundaries of its 105 House and 35 Senate districts to minimize each district’s deviation from precisely equal population and avoid retrogression with respect to racial minorities’ “ability to...

B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Indus., Inc.
Docket Number: 13-352
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 24, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Hargis tried to register its trademark for SEALTITE with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. B&B opposed registration, claiming that SEALTITE is too similar to B&B’s SEALTIGHT trademark. The Trademark Trial and Appeal...

Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers Dist. Council Constr. Indus. Pension Fund
Docket Number: 13-435
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 24, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The Securities Act of 1933 requires that a company issuing securities file a registration statement containing specified information, 15 U.S.C. 77aa. The statement may include other representations of fact or opinion. A...

Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Ass'n
Docket Number: 13-1041
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 9, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) establishes procedures federal administrative agencies use for “formulating, amending, or repealing a rule,” 5 U.S.C. 551(5), and distinguishes between “legislative rules,” issued t...

Dep't of Transp. v. Ass'n of Am. Railroads
Docket Number: 13-1080
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 9, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) has priority to use track systems owned by the freight railroads for passenger rail travel, at agreed rates or rates set by the Surface Transportation Board. In 2008,...

Ala. Dep't of Revenue v. CSX Transp., Inc.
Docket Number: 13-553
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 4, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Alabama imposes sales and use taxes on railroads purchasing or consuming diesel fuel, but exempts their competitors: trucking companies and companies that transport goods interstate through navigable waters. Motor carrie...

Direct Marketing Ass'n v. Brohl
Docket Number: 13-1032
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: March 3, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Colorado requires residents who purchase goods from a retailer that does not collect sales or use taxes to file a return and remit taxes directly to its Department of Revenue. Noncollecting retailers must notify any Colo...

North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC
Docket Number: 13-534
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: February 25, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: North Carolina’s Dental Practice Act does not specify that teeth whitening is “the practice of dentistry.” After dentists complained, the Board of Dental Examiners issued cease-and-desist letters to nondentist teeth whit...

Yates v. United States
Docket Number: 13-7451
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: February 25, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: While inspecting a commercial fishing vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, a federal agent found that the catch contained undersized red grouper, in violation of conservation regulations, and instructed the captain, Yates, to k...

Kansas v. Nebraska
Docket Number: 126, Orig.
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: February 24, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: In 1943, Congress approved a Compact between Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado to apportion the “virgin water originating in” the Republican River Basin. In 1998, Kansas filed an original action in the Supreme Court contend...

M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett
Docket Number: 13-1010
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 26, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: M&G purchased the Point Pleasant Polyester Plant in 2000 and entered a collective bargaining agreement and a related Pension, Insurance, and Service Award Agreement with the union, providing that certain retirees, surviv...

Gelboim v. Bank of Am. Corp.
Docket Number: 13-1174
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 21, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is a reference point in determining interest rates for financial instruments in the U.S. and globally. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established a multidi...

Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank
Docket Number: 13-1211
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 21, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Hana Financial and Hana Bank both provide financial services to individuals in the U.S. When Hana Financial sued Hana Bank for trademark infringement, Hana Bank invoked the tacking doctrine, under which lower courts have...

Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean
Docket Number: 13-894
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 21, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The 2002 Homeland Security Act provides that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) “shall prescribe regulations prohibiting the disclosure of information . . . if the Under Secretary decides that disclosur[e]...

Holt v. Hobbs
Docket Number: 13-6827
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 20, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: The inmate, a devout Muslim wanted to grow a ½-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs. The Arkansas Department of Correction prohibits prisoners from growing beards, with an exception that inmates with diagn...

Teva Pharma. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc.
Docket Number: 13-854
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 20, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Teva’s patent covers a multiple sclerosis drug. When Sandoz tried to market a generic version of the drug, Teva sued for infringement. Sandoz countered that the patent was invalid because a claim that the active ingredi...

Christeson v. Roper
Docket Number: 14-6873
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 20, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: In 1999, Christeson was convicted of three counts of capital murder and sentenced to death. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed Christeson’s conviction and sentence and denial of his post-conviction motion for relief. Un...

Jennings v. Stephens
Docket Number: 13-7211
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 14, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Jennings sought federal habeas relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel during the punishment phase of his state capital murder trial. The district court granted relief on his “Wiggins theories,” that counsel fa...

T-Mobile South, LLC v. City of Roswell
Docket Number: 13-975
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 14, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Roswell’s city council held a public hearing to consider T-Mobile’s application to build a cell phone tower on residential property. Council members expressed concerns about the tower’s impact on the area. The council un...

Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.
Docket Number: 13-684
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 13, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Exactly three years after borrowing money to refinance their home mortgage, the Jesinoskis sent the lender a letter purporting to rescind the transaction. The lender replied, refusing to acknowledge the rescission’s vali...

Whitfield v. United States
Docket Number: 13-9026
Court: US Supreme Court
Date: January 13, 2015

Justia Opinion Summary: Whitfield, fleeing a botched bank robbery, entered 79-year-old Parnell’s home and guided her from a hallway to a room a few feet away, where she suffered a fatal heart attack. He was convicted of, among other things, vio...