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Supreme Court to hear age discrimination question, 2 other cases

The US Supreme Court [official website] granted certiorari in three new cases [order list, PDF] Monday. In Madigan v. Levin [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the court will consider whether age discrimination claimants can circumvent the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) [materials] and bring claims directly under the Equal Protection clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] and 42 USC § 1983 [text]. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, contrary to the holding of four other circuit courts, held [opinion] that it is permissible to bring claims under those two laws rather than the ADEA. Age discrimination claims are notoriously difficult to bring to court, with 70 percent being found to have no reasonable cause [EEOC backgrounder] in 2012.

The court also granted review in Kaley v. United States [docket; cert. petition, PDF] to consider, when a post-indictment, ex parte restraining order freezes assets needed by a criminal defendant to retain counsel of choice, do the Fifth and Sixth Amendments [text] require a pre-trial, adversarial hearing at which the defendant may challenge the evidentiary support and legal theory of the underlying charges? The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled [opinion] against the availability of such hearings: "The Kaleys once again appeal, arguing that, in addition to traceability, they should have been allowed to challenge the factual foundation supporting the grand jury's probable cause determinations (the very validity of the underlying indictment) at a pretrial, post-restraint hearing. Because, as we see it, the defendants are not entitled to try the entire case twice, once before trial and then again before a judge and jury, we affirm the district court's order denying the Kaleys' motion to vacate the protective order."

Finally, the Court agreed to hear United States Forest Service v. Pacific Rivers Council [docket; cert. petition, PDF] and will consider if the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the United States Forest Service [official websites] to conduct environmental impact studies [backgrounder] for all possible aspects to be targeted when considering a project, rather than conducting studies after the project has already been approved. The court will also hear arguments on the ripeness [Cornell LII backgrounder] of Pacific Rivers Council's [official website] claim, as well as its standing [Cornell LII backgrounder] to contest the issue. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [opinion] that the US Forest Service's analysis of fish in the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project [official website] did not comply with NEPA.

The court denied review in Thomas-Rasset v. Capitol Records [docket; cert. petition, PDF], which questioned if there could be a constitutional limit for the statutory damages incurred when illegally file-sharing media. A Minnesota woman was fined $45,000 [JURIST report] for downloading approximately 24 songs illegally. That judgment was reduced from the original $1.5 million jury verdict.

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