The US Supreme Court granted certiorari in seven cases on Friday, consolidating several of them for a total of four oral arguments to be heard early next year.
The first grant, a consolidation of Barr v. Dai and Barr v. Alcaraz-Enriquez, concerns credibility determinations in asylum hearings. In both cases, applicants for asylum were given a presumption of credibility by reviewing courts because the immigration judges failed to rule on the credibility of the asylum seekers’ testimony in their adjudications of the asylum request. Although the Ninth Circuit, which decided both appeals, held that the presumption of credibility is a well-established precedent and that all circuits have adopted a similar standard, the US Department of Justice petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the circuit precedent and require appellate courts to measure the credibility of testimony independently if the immigration judge failed to do so.
In addition, the court granted certiorari in BP v. Mayor and City of Baltimore, asking the court to decide whether an appeals court can rule on a normally unreviewable removal action when one of the justifications for removal is based on the Federal Officer Removal statute. Generally, denials of removal from a state court to a federal court are not reviewable except for two narrow exceptions for cases removed for involving federal officers and certain civil rights claims. The petitioners argue that the text of the statute permits the reviewing court to review all proffered justifications for removal so long as one of the reasons is the exception, a view flatly rejected by nearly all of the circuit courts, which construe it narrowly as only permitting review of that justification.
The court also consolidated FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project and National Association of Broadcasters v. Prometheus Radio Project. Both cases concern the Federal Communication Commission’s modification of competition rules that relaxed limits on the ability of media companies to own multiple outlets in a single market and whether the regulatory changes were arbitrary, capricious, and took into account all of the required criteria to determine that competition would not be harmed by the relaxation of the requirements.
Finally, the court consolidated two voting cases from Arizona, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee. Both cases concern Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy, which invalidates provisional ballots cast by people at a voting location different from their assigned precinct, and ballot collection law, which limits the people who can deliver an absentee ballot to family members, legal caregivers, and postal service employees. Although both laws were upheld by the trial court and the initial three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, an en banc Ninth Circuit overturned the prior rulings and held that both rules violated the Fifteenth Amendment and Voting Rights Act. The Arizona Republican Party and Republican Attorney General appealed the ruling, asking the Supreme Court to reinstate the rules. The decision of the Ninth Circuit is currently stayed, and the rules remain in effect for the November presidential election.
As court’s calendar through December is already set with cases that were granted certiorari during the prior term, it is unlikely that oral arguments for these cases come before next year.