[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in four cases. In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin [docket; cert. petition], Abigail Fisher brought suit against the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), alleging that its race-conscious admission program violated the Equal Protection Clause [LII backgrounder] of the 14th Amendment. Fisher was denied admission to UT Austin under their holistic review program, which reviews applicants based on, among many other factors, special circumstances such as socioeconomic background and race. The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas granted summary judgment to UT, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] affirmed [text, PDF].
The second case, Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company [docket; cert. petition], addresses the question of whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) [official backgrounder] preempts a Vermont statute in setting minimum standards for employee healthcare services. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] reversed [text] a district court ruling, finding that ERISA did preempt the state law.
In Musacchio v. United States [docket; cert.petition], Michael Mussacchio was found guilty of having fraudulently accessed a protected computer of a competitor. The instruction given at trial required the jury to find that Musacchio both agreed to make unauthorized access and exceeded authorized access, when the statute requires only that he agreed to make unauthorized access or exceed authorized access. On appeal, Musacchio urges that because the government did not object, the erroneous instruction “became the law of the case,” and that the government failed to meet the standard set forth. The Fifth Circuit found against Musacchio and affirmed [opinion, PDF] his sentence.
Finally, the Second Circuit also decided the question, does “a conviction…for attempted arson in the third degree constitute an “aggravated felony” under the Immigration and Nationality Act?” In Torres v. Lynch [docket; cert. petition], Jorge Luna Torres, a native of the Dominican Republic, was convicted of attempted arson in the third degree in 1999, and was subsequently denied United States citizenship as a result. Second Circuit affirmed [opinion] the Board of Immigration Appeals decision to deny citizenship. The Supreme Court will now determine if, under certain circumstances, a state offense is sufficient to constitute a felony conviction and bar citizenship.