The April Supreme Court Docket

Next Monday, the Supreme Court begins their April sitting.  The following is a look at the 13 cases that are scheduled for oral argument.

4/15- Iancu vs. Brunetti

The Lanham Act that deals with trademarks is the subject of this case.  in 2017, the Supreme Court struck down prohibitions on disparaging trademarks ruling that such prohibitions amounted to viewpoint discrimination and, thus, in violation of the First Amendment.  This case will decide whether the prohibition on scandalous or immoral words in trademarks is constitutional.  At issue is a brand of street wear called “FUCT.”

4/15 Emulex vs. Varjabedian

This case involves the Securities Act of 1934 and whether a private right of action is inferred in the law for a negligent misstatement or omission in a tender offer.  It is telling that the liberal Ninth Circuit infers such a private right of action, but that several other circuits have ruled otherwise.  Emulex is arguing that the Ninth Circuit cannot read into the law an act not authorized by the text of the law.

4/16 Parker Drilling vs. Newton

A case of federalism and how far state law applies when federal law is silent on an issue in a strange context.   Specifically, should California’s labor laws be applicable to drilling rigs operating on the Outer Continental Shelf?

4/16 North Carolina Dept. of Revenue vs. Kaestner Family Trust

Here, the Court will determine whether the Due Process Clause is violated if a state taxes the beneficiaries of a trust who are in-state residents.  The state argues that over $120 billion in wealth is transferred through trusts and, therefore, a valuable source of tax revenue.

4/17 United States vs. Davis

This a case of statutory interpretation of the term “crime of violence” in federal prosecutions where the accused possessed, used or carried a firearm.

4/17 McDonough vs. Smith

Edward McDonough was a New York election official charged with 74 counts of forging absentee ballots.  There was one problem: prosecutors had knowingly fabricated evidence against him.  He then sued the state.  However, the appeal courts ruled that the suit came too late and that the statute of limitations begins to run when McDonough knew or should have known of the fabricated evidence.  McDonough argues that it begins to run as soon as he is acquitted, or the charges officially dropped.

4/22 Food  Marketing Institute vs. Argus Leader Media

The Argus Leader is a South Dakota newspaper that was compiling an article on the food stamp program.  They requested information from the USDA regarding particular stores which the USDA denied.  The paper then filed an Freedom of Information Act petition, but the USDA replied the information provided could have deleterious financial effects on particular stores.  The lower courts determined that any harm would be speculative at best.  Since the USDA itself did not appeal the decision, the Food Marketing Institute took up the case.

4/22 Fort Bend County, Texas vs. Davis

Normally to make a claim of workplace discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one must first appeal to the EEOC.   The Court will decide whether district courts may entertain such claims if the person did not first go through the EEOC.

4/23 Department of Commerce vs. New York

This is the infamous US Census citizenship question.  For a more detailed look at this case, this writer previously covered the issues here.

4/23 Mitchell vs. Wisconsin

Gerald Mitchell was arrested for drunk driving after a field test revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.24. When police took him to the hospital, he passed out.  A blood test conducted there revealed a blood alcohol level of 0.222.  Mitchell argues that the blood test results should be thrown out because police did not first obtain a warrant.  Wisconsin contends the test is allowed since he consented by getting behind the wheel of a car.  An interesting Fourth Amendment case that will be closely watched by civil libertarians.

4/23 Rehaif vs. United States

Mr. Rehaif is a citizen of the UAE who was in the US on a student visa.  However, he was dismissed from school, but remained in the country illegally.  Several months later, he was arrested for having ammunition in his hotel room, convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison.  Rehaif contends the conviction and sentence are unconstitutional since “he did not know he was in the country illegally.”  Um… he knew the terms of his visa, and from a personal standpoint, instead of wasting resources on him in prison, he should have been placed on the next flight to UAE.


4/24 Quarles vs. United States

The crime of burglary is again before the Court.  This time, the timing of the intent to burglarize a structure is of interest.  Do they have to enter a home with intent to commit burglary, or does their intent occur once in the home?  This has implications for sentencing under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

4/24 Taggart vs. Lorenz

The session ends with a dud of a case involving all the excitement of watching cement set involving the Bankruptcy Code and whether a creditor’s good-faith belief that a discharge injunction does not apply allows them to avoid a civil contempt charge.