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Supreme Court hears arguments on collective bargaining, laches

The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] in a collective bargaining case as well as a laches case on Tuesday. In Harris v. Quinn [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] the court heard arguments on whether a state can "compel personal care providers to accept and financially support a private organization as their exclusive representative to petition the state for greater reimbursements from its Medicaid programs." The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held [opinion] that "a collective bargaining agreement that requires Medicaid home-care personal assistants to pay a fee to a union representative [does not] violate the First Amendment." The court also ruled, "we lack jurisdiction to consider the claims of plaintiffs who have opted not to be in the union. Because they are not presently subject to mandatory fair share fees, their claims are not ripe." Counsel for Harris argued that charging personal care providers compulsory union fees "violates the First Amendment because the purpose of this mandatory association is inherently expressive." Counsel for respondent, however, argued that the fees will assist the state government in doing a more efficient job providing services to a "vulnerable population." Counsel for the US also argued on the respondent's behalf.

In Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] the court heard arguments on "[w]hether the nonstatutory defense of laches [Nolo definition] is available without restriction to bar all remedies for civil copyright claims filed within the three-year statute of limitations prescribed by Congress, 17 USC § 507(b) [text]." There is a circuit split on the issue, and the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has adopted a presumption [opinion] in favor of applying laches to continuing copyright infringements. Counsel for petitioner argued that the Supreme Court "has never applied laches to constrict a Federal statute of limitations, and rejected such a claim just four years ago." Counsel for the US also argued on the petitioner's behalf. Counsel for respondent, however, argued that the Supreme Court has on numerous occasions stated that, as in the case at hand, whenever there is "a rolling statute of limitations, laches is a necessary protection for the defendant because the events may move so far away from the underlying facts."

In Navarette v. California [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report] the court heard arguments on whether police, after getting an anonymous tip about drunken or reckless driving, must actually observe that kind of misconduct before they may stop a vehicle.

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