The US Supreme Court oral arguments Wednesday in Lomax v. Ortiz-Marquez on prisoner legal complaints.
In the oral argument, the petitioner argued that “[w]ithout-prejudice dismissals for failure to state a claim are not strikes” under a statute which governs how many times prisoners may bring a claim that is then dismissed for failure to state a claim. The petitioner then listed three reasons why. First, the petitioner argued that “the statute uses a familiar legal phrase with a well-established meaning in the context relevant here,” and that the phrase in the statute does not mean “dismissed with prejudice.” Second, the petitioner argued that “the structure of” the statute “supports that interpretation.” Finally, the petitioner argued that to interpret it a different way “upsets” the balance of the statute.
On the other side, the respondent argued that “[t]he text, structure, and history” of the statute support the interpretation that counsel for Lomax argued against. The respondent also argued that “the structure of the Act backs this ordinary meaning.”