The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in three cases.
The first case, Mathena v. Malvo, is known as the “DC sniper” case and involves Lee Boyd Malvo, who was 17 years old when he was convicted of two counts of capital murder in Virginia. As a result of this conviction, Malvo was sentenced to two life sentences without parole. However, since Malvo’s sentencing, the Supreme Court has held that mandatory life sentences for juveniles violate the Eighth Amendment and are therefore unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has also held that this decision applies retroactively. The oral argument centered around whether these cases should apply to Malvo’s case. The petitioner argued that the previous cases applied only to mandatory sentences of life without parole and not to non-mandatory sentences, while Malvo argued that the cases are “not limited to mandatory schemes where life without parole is the only possible punishment.”
The second case, Kansas v. Garcia, asks whether the Immigration Reform and Control Act prevents states from using information on federal I-9 forms to prosecute individuals. The respondents argued that “if to satisfy an element of a state offense the state proves an individual used false information to show federal work authorization, IRCA preempts the prosecution.” Conversely, the petitioners argued that the fraud in the case “was discovered, in a context outside the employment setting.”
The final case was Rotkiske v. Klemm. The case involves the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and concerns a person who had a judgment entered against him without his knowledge as the result of his credit card debt. The case questions when the statute of limitations begins to run. The respondents argued “that the statute of limitations would begin to run when the violation occurs, not when it was discovered.” The petitioners argued the opposite, that the statute of limitations began to run when the petitioner became aware of the violation.