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Supreme Court hears cases on diversity, First Amendment

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday heard [day call] the cases of Americold Realty Trust v. ConAgra Foods and Heffernan v. City of Paterson [SCOTUSblog backgrounders]. In Americold Realty Trust v. ConAgra Foods [argument transcript] the Court will examine whether the citizenship of a trust for purposes of diversity jurisdiction is based on the citizenship of the controlling trustees, the trust beneficiaries, or some combination of both. ConAgra Foods sued Americold Realty Trust for breach of contract relating to a warehouse fire. The case was removed to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction; however, because Americold is a real estate investment trust, with possible beneficiaries in multiple places, there exist questions about the requirement of complete diversity. Americold argues that diversity should be based on citizenship of trustees and not beneficiaries, while ConAgra asserts "a trust to be a citizen of every state in which any of the trust's members, shareholders, or beneficiaries is a citizen." The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] held in favor of ConAgra [Opinion, PDF] last year.

In Heffernan v. City of Paterson [argument transcript], the Court will address the issue of whether the First Amendment [LII backgrounder] bars demotion of a public employee based on the employee's support of a particular political candidate. The case concerns Jeffrey Heffernan [SCOTUSblog Argument Summary], a detective and later chief of police in New Jersey who, because it was perceived that he supported a mayoral candidate, was demoted from his office to that of a patrol officer. Heffernan sued but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] rejected his claim that his demotion was violative of the First Amendment.

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