The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two more cases on Tuesday afternoon.
In Kelley v. United States, Bridgette Kelly and William Baroni appealed their convictions for violating federal property-fraud laws. Kelly, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s deputy chief of staff, and Baroni, a New York and New Jersey Port Authority official, were tried after an incident that became known as “Bridgegate“: The two ordered lane shifts on the George Washington Bridge as political payback in 2013, which caused a gridlock in and out of New York City. The question for the court was whether, under the property-fraud statute, Kelly and Baroni “implemented a fraudulent scheme to obtain property.” The attorney arguing on behalf of Baroni opened by stating:
A public official who is acting politically and not for personal gain does not commit fraud by lying about his reason for an official decision if the decision was generally within his authority. The government disputed that below but now urges that as the rule in this Court.
Deputy Solicitor General Eric Feigin argued on behalf of the government that it was Baroni and Kelly’s lying, which led to the lane shifts, that constituted fraud.
In the second case, Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc., the question for the court was whether the willful intent of the plaintiff, under the Latham Act, was required in order to recover part of the defendant’s profits from a trademark infringement. The appeal followed a decision in favor of the plaintiff where the court awarded ninety-thousand dollars for unjust enrichment. Romag’s attorney argued that, though the act mentions required mental states like willfulness in eight different provisions, it does not mention one in the provision applicable here. Thus, Romag should not have had to prove Fossil’s trademark infringement was willful in order to recover part of their profits from the product (an award worth over $6 million.