The US Supreme Court [official website] granted certiorari in six new cases [order list, PDF] on Friday. In Salinas v. Texas [cert. petition, PDF; docket] the court will consider the boundaries of the Fifth Amendment [text] right to remain silent prior to arrest. Genovevo Salinas was suspected of being involved in a murder. He consented to a search of his home, where police found a shotgun, and consented to questioning at the police station, but he was not arrested or given Miranda warnings [backgrounder]. An officer asked, "if the shotgun [his father had given them] would match the shells recovered at the scene of the murder." Salinas looked down and refused to answer the question. The state then offered the refusal to answer as a key piece of evidence against Salinas, which he contends was a violation of his right against self-incrimination. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas upheld [opinion text] the conviction.
In Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International [cert. petition, PDF; docket] the court will consider the First Amendment [text] implications of the US Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 [22 USC § 7601 text], which bars funding to HIV/AIDS organizations that do not actively denounce prostitution [JURIST news archive]. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit struck down those provisions [JURIST report], ruling that this unconstitutionally requires potential fund recipients to "espouse the government's views." Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from hearing this case.
In US v. Kebodeaux [cert. petition; docket] the court will review whether the federal government can compel a convicted sex offender to register with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006 (SORNA) [text] if they have completed their sentence before SORNA [JURIST news archive] was enacted. The court has ruled on SORNA several times, including that it does not apply retroactively [JURIST report] without guidance that the rule does apply to those offenders. The government is arguing that "Reynolds addressed the narrow question of when and how SORNA's particular requirements become effective as to persons who committed their offense prior to its enactment. It does not address Congress' power to prescribe registration requirements for those offenders." The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled [opinion text] that this provision violated Article I [text] of the Constitution.
In Sekhar v. US [docket] the court will consider if blackmailing an attorney who is also employed by the government is a violation of federal extortion law [18 USC § 875(d)], including the Hobbs Act [18 USC § 1951 (a)]. Giridhar Sekhar allegedly threatened to blackmail [Times Union report] the attorney of New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to gain a government contract. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declared [opinion text] the attorney's "recommendation" as intangible property of the state of New York, and thus under the jurisdiction of federal extortion law.
In Hillman v. Maretta [cert. petition, PDF; docket] the court will consider if the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Act of 1954 (FEGLIA) [text] preempts a state domestic relations equitable remedy which creates a cause of action against the recipient of Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) proceeds after they have been distributed. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled [opinion text] that "[b]ecause Congress intended for FEGLI benefits to be paid and to belong to a designated beneficiary, we conclude that FEGLIA preempts" the Virginia Code [§ 20-111.1(D) text] in question."
Finally, the court granted another question on federal preemption in American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles [cert. petition, PDF; docket]. The court will consider 49 USC § 14501(c)(1) [text], which provides that "a State [or] political subdivision ... may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier ... with respect to the transportation of property" and contains an unexpressed "market participant" exception. The court will look at if this exemption permits a municipal governmental entity to take action that conflicts with the express preemption clause, if it occurs in a market in which the municipal entity does not participate, and is unconnected with any interest in the efficient procurement of services. The court will also look at if a required concession agreement setting out various conditions a motor carrier must meet to serve a particular port imposes any requirements that are "related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier" for the purposes of preemption under Section 14501(c)(1). Finally, the court will determine whether permitting a municipal governmental entity to bar federally licensed motor carriers from access to a port operates as a partial suspension of the motor carriers' federal registration is in violation of Castle v. Hayes Freight Lines Inc. [opinion text].