This Week’s Brief: February 10

Another quiet week at 1 First St. NE. The Court is in the midst of its inter-sitting recess, so the Justices heard no oral arguments and released no opinions. The Court did issue a few orders relating to procedural matters. Next week is likely to follow the same trend; the Court is set to see heavy action resume on February 24. Here’s your brief for the week of February 10.


This Week:
Decisions: 0
Cases Argued: 0
Cert. Grants: 0

O.T. 2019:
Cases Decided: 5
Cases Remaining: 68
Weeks Left in Term: 19


Chief Justice Roberts issued a miscellaneous order Monday afternoon in Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. Roberts stayed until Thursday afternoon a ruling from the Federal Circuit against Sanofi-Aventis. The case concerns an intellectual property dispute between the two corporations. After a Federal Circuit decision last year altering the status of administrative patent judges, Sanofi-Aventis sought to reopen a case that was settled before that decision. When the Federal Circuit denied Sanofi-Aventis’ motion, the company sought a stay of the Federal Circuit’s ruling from Chief Justice Roberts. Roberts’ order granting the stay directs Mylan Pharmaceuticals to file a response by Thursday, at which time he will reevaluate the stay conditions.


The Court held no proceedings Tuesday through Thursday.


The Court issued another orders list Friday afternoon, which dealt entirely with procedural matters. The Court allowed the U.S. Solicitor General to enjoy divided argument in the consolidated cases of U.S. Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Assn. and Atlantic Coast PipelineLLC v. Cowpasture River Assn., which are set for argument on February 24. Next, the Court permitted the Solicitor General to brief and argue the government’s position in Lomax v. Ortiz-Marquez, set for argument on February 26. Next, the Court made some changes to the oral argument in Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the constitutional challenge to the structure of the CFPB. The Court let the U.S. House of Representatives participate in the argument as amicus curiae; expanded the entire argument time to 70 minutes; and divvied up the 70 minutes as follows: 20 for Seila Law, 20 for the U.S. Solicitor General (on behalf of the CFPB), 20 for the Court-appointed amicus curiae, and 10 for the House of Representatives. The case will be argued on March 3. Finally, after receiving the reply brief from Mylan Pharmaceuticals on Thursday, Roberts denied “in all respects” Sanofi-Aventis’ application for a stay in Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Some high profile cases the Justices continue to consider include:

  • Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky, Inc. This case challenges an Indiana state abortion law that requires women who seek an abortion to, among other things, undergo a fetal ultrasound eighteen hours before the abortion is performed. The question presented is whether such an ultrasound requirement violates a woman’s Fourteenth Amendment rights.
  • Arlene’s FlowersInc. v. Washington. This case is a mirror-image to that of Masterpiece CakeshopLtd. v. Colorado, on whose merits the Court punted in 2018. The questions before the Court are (1) whether a state violates a floral designer’s Free Exercise and Free Speech rights by forcing her to create custom floral arrangements celebrating same-sex weddings or by acting based on hostility toward her religious beliefs; and (2) whether the Free Exercise Clause’s prohibition on religious hostility applies to the executive branch.
  • California v. Texas. This case concerns the oft-challenged “individual mandate” in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). In December 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) overruled the Supreme Court’s decision in NFIB v. Sebelius (2012) upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate. The Fifth Circuit then ordered the district court to consider whether the ACA must be struck down. The questions before the Supreme Court are (1) whether Petitioners have standing; if so, (2) whether the TCJA overruled NFIB; and if so (3) whether the individual mandate is severable from the ACA.
  • United States v. California. This case involves the Trump administration’s challenge to California’s statewide “sanctuary” law. The law prohibits state law-enforcement officers from providing information about immigrants (both legal and illegal) to federal immigration officials. The question before the Court is whether federal immigration law preempts California’s sanctuary law—and others like it in cities and states around the country—under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.
  • Worman v. Healey. This case concerns a Massachusetts state law that bans, inter alia, semiautomatic “assault weapon[s]” and magazines capable of accepting 10+ rounds of ammunition. The question presented is whether that law violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
  • Malpasso v. Pallozzi. This is a constitutional law case asking whether a state law that categorically prohibits residents from carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense violates the Second Amendment.
  • Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine. This case mixes labor unions with the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The question presented is whether it violates the First Amendment to designate a labor union to represent and speak on behalf of public-sector employees who object to its advocacy.
  • Territory of Guam v. Davis. This case concerns a unique Fifteenth Amendment challenge to a political referendum Guam undertook under the 2000 Plebiscite Law. The federal territory allowed only “native inhabitants of Guam” to vote on the island’s future political status with the United States. The question presented is whether the Fifteenth Amendment permits Guam to invite only “native inhabitants of Guam” to participate in a potential political-status plebiscite that would yield only a nonbinding, symbolic expression of self-determination preferences.
  • Collins v. Mnuchin. This case concerns a constitutional challenge to the structure of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), a mirror-image case to that of Seila Law v. CFPB, the challenge to the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The questions presented in Collins are (1) whether the structure of the FHFA violates the separation of powers, and if so (2) whether the actions of the FHFA must be annulled and the statute creating its structure struck down.
The Week Ahead

The Court is off on Monday for the federal holiday. No official proceedings are scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday. On Friday, the Court will meet for its weekly private conference.

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