[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in three cases Monday. In City of Los Angeles v. Patel [cert. petition, PDF] the court has been asked to resolve a circuit split between the US Courts of Appeals for the Ninth and the Sixth Circuits [official websites] regarding the constitutionality of hotel guest registry inspection ordinances that authorize unwarranted police inspections of such a registries. The Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, held such an ordinance in Los Angeles was "facially unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment because it does not provide pre-compliance judicial review." The Sixth Circuit ruled en banc that the challenge was not ripe, while the Massachusetts Supreme Court [official website] held that the state's hotel guest registry statute, closely analogous to the City of Los Angeles' ordinance, was permissible because hotel operators did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the registry.
In another petition from the Ninth Circuit Chappell v. Ayala [cert. petition, PDF] the court must rule on the following issue:
whether a state court's rejection of a claim of federal constitutional error on the ground that any error, if one occurred, was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt is an "adjudicat[ion] on the merits" within the meaning of 28 USC § 2254(d) [text], so that a federal court may set aside the resulting final state conviction only if the defendant can satisfy the restrictive standards imposed by that provision.In addition to the issue presented by the case, the court the following question: "whether the court of appeals properly applied the standard articulated in Brecht v. Abrahamson" [Oyez backgrounder].
The third case, Henderson v. United States [petition for cert., PDF], asks whether Rule 41(g) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, entitled "Search and Seizure," or general equity principles prevents a court from ordering the government to "transfer non-contraband firearms to an unrelated third party to whom the defendant has sold all his property interest or sell the firearms for the benefit of the defendant." The issues stems from the intersection of 18 USC § 922(g) [text], which prohibits a convicted felon from possessing any firearm or ammunition, and property law. The issue has generated a major circuit split with the Second, Fifth, and Seventh Circuits and the Montana Supreme Court allowing lower courts to order these types of transfers or sales; while the Third, Sixth, Eighth and Eleventh Circuits bar such transfers and sales.