Supreme Court takes up DACA case, rejects Alabama abortion appeal
Photo credit: Stephanie Sundier

Supreme Court takes up DACA case, rejects Alabama abortion appeal

The US Supreme Court added 13 cases to its docket for the October 2019 term Friday, including three cases challenging the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protected undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children from deportation. The court also denied review of an Alabama abortion law.

The three DACA cases have been consolidated for one hour of oral argument: Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, Trump v. NAACP and McAleenan v. Vidal. The court is asked to decide first, whether the decision to end DACA is judicially reviewable, and, if so, whether the decision is lawful.

In Marshall v. West Alabama Women’s Center, the court declined to review an appeals court decision invalidating an Alabama state law prohibiting dilation and evacuation abortions, the most common second-trimester abortion procedure. The denial allows the lower court ruling to stand. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate concurrence, noting that, “The notion that anything in the Constitution prevents States from passing laws prohibiting the dismembering of a living child is implausible.”

In Kelly v. United States the court will hear a case surrounding the so-called “Bridgegate,” in which staff for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie colluded to change traffic patterns on the George Washington Bridge in order to create traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Former Christie staffer Bridget Kelly was convicted and sentence to 18 months for her role in the scandal. In this case, the court is asked to determine whether “a public official ‘defraud[s]’ the government of its property by advancing a ‘public policy reason’ for an official decision that is not her subjective ‘real reason’ for making the decision.”

In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue the court will consider a challenge over public funding for parents who opt to send their children to religious schools. The issue facing the court is whether “it violate[s] the Religion Clauses or Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution to invalidate a generally available and religiously neutral student-aid program simply because the program affords students the choice of attending religious schools.”

Opati v. Republic of Sudan is a case stemming from the 1998 bombing of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The court limited the grant to question 2: “Whether, consistent with this Court’s decision in Republic of Austria v. Altmann … the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act applies retroactively, thereby permitting recovery of punitive damages under 28 USC § 1605A(c) against foreign states for terrorist activities occurring prior to the passage of the current version of the statute.”

In Thole v. U.S. Bank, N.A. the court will decide two questions posed in the petition: “1. May an ERISA plan participant or beneficiary seek injunctive relief against fiduciary misconduct under 29 USC 1132(a)(3) without demonstrating individual financial loss or the imminent risk thereof? 2. May an ERISA plan participant or beneficiary seek restoration of plan losses caused by fiduciary breach under 29 USC 1132(a)(2) without demonstrating individual financial loss or the imminent risk thereof?” The court also directed the parties to address the question of whether petitioners have demonstrated Article III standing.

In Babb v. Wilkie the court will determine “whether the federal-sector provision of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which provides that personnel actions affecting agency employees aged 40 years or older shall be made free from any ‘discrimination based on age,’ … requires a plaintiff to prove that age was a but-for cause of the challenged personnel action.”

In GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS v. Outokumpu Stainless USA LLC the court must decide “whether the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention) permits a non-signatory to an arbitration agreement to compel arbitration based on the doctrine of equitable estoppel.”

In Lucky Brand Dungarees Inc. v. Marcel Fashion Group Inc. the court has been asked to decide “whether, when a plaintiff asserts new claims, federal preclusion principles can bar a defendant from raising defenses that were not actually litigated and resolved in any prior case between the parties.”

In Romag Fasteners Inc. v. Fossil Inc. the court will consider “whether, under section 35 of the Lanham Act, 15 USC § 1117(a), willful infringement is a prerequisite for an award of an infringer’s profits for a violation of section 43(a), id. § 1125(a).”

In Rodriguez v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. the court will determine “whether courts should determine ownership of a tax refund paid to an affiliated group based on the federal common law ‘Bob Richards rule.'”

Finally, in Shular v. United States the court will decide “whether the determination of a ‘serious drug offense’ under the Armed Career Criminal Act requires the same categorical approach used in the determination of a ‘violent felony’ under the Act?’

Also Friday, the court denied review in McGee v. McFadden, drawing a dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The case concerned a life sentence where the state failed to disclose evidence.