• Posts by Stuart M. Gerson
    Member of the Firm

    Attorney Stuart Gerson’s respected trial and appellate skills and power of persuasion help him successfully represent health care, life sciences, and financial services clients in high-stakes civil and criminal matters ...

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The U.S. Supreme Court decided three cases today, one of them on the main sequence of the practices of most of the readers of this blog and the others worth knowing about, both as lawyers and as citizens.

Adding another car to the train of decisions concerning arbitration, namely, what is arbitrable and who decides it, a unanimous Court, per Justice Jackson, has held in Coinbase, Inc. v. Suski, that where parties have agreed to two contracts, one sending disputes concerning arbitrability to arbitration, and another, either explicitly or implicitly, sending such disputes to the courts ...

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On May 16—for the second time in two weeks—the U.S. Supreme Court, this time unanimously, has taken a lenient, plaintiff-friendly view of whether a filing deadline is jurisdictional in the sense that it is governed by the occurrence of a triggering event or its discovery. In Harrow v. Department of Defense, the Court, per Justice Kagan, held that the 60-day appeal provision regarding a federal Merit Systems Protection Board (the “Board”) decision is not jurisdictional and is subject to equitable exceptions, such as waiver, forfeiture, and equitable tolling. Stuart Harrow ...

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The U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases yesterday, in each of which timing played a decisive role in the outcome. These cases did not produce the unanimity that has characterized most of the Court’s decisions so far this term. However, the divisions, while reflective of ideological differences among the Justices, are expressed with intellectual honesty and recognition of consequences. One of them, a copyright case, is of particular relevance to litigators involved, not just with copyright issues, but in many areas of the law concerning how the Court will interpret and apply ...

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A unanimous Supreme Court has eased the route for a plaintiff to prove a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in Muldrow v. City of St. Louis.

Sergeant Jatonya Muldrow brought suit against the St. Louis Police Department when she was transferred from the department’s Intelligence Division to a uniformed role in one of the department’s police districts. Notwithstanding the fact that Sergeant Muldrow (whom her former supervisor addressed as “Ms.” rather than “Sergeant”) was a most dependable “workhorse” on the job, the supervisor determined that ...

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The Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in the case of Joseph Fischer, one of more than 300 people convicted of corruptly obstructing an official proceeding: the congressional certification on January 6, 2021, of Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.

If oral argument is any indication, there is considerable division between the jurisprudential liberals and conservatives concerning the breadth and effect of the obstruction statute. The Fischer case is important because of its potential effects on the numerous convictions entered in the District Court for D.C. and because Special Counsel Jack Smith has charged Trump with the same offense in his pending case.

Of less national significance are the two decisions issued by the Court today.

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Some commentators claim there are bitter divisions among the Justices, roiling the Court and its processes. Many of the same commentators were critical of the Court’s decision holding that former President Trump was not disqualified from reelection by Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, but they tended to ignore that the Court’s operative opinion was unanimous. The tenor of that unanimity will be explored as soon as April 25, when the Court hears arguments in the immunity case of Trump v. United States.

At least for today, however, peace reigns on the bench, as the Court issued unanimous opinions in each of the three cases decided.

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Yonas Fikre, a U.S. citizen who had emigrated from Sudan, found himself placed on the No Fly List by the FBI and unable to return to the United States from an international trip. This action followed Fikre’s having been questioned about the mosque he attended and his refusal to become an FBI informant. Having ended up in Sweden, Fikre brought suit, alleging that the government had violated his procedural rights by failing to give him sufficient notice and the ability to gain adequate redress and had improperly considered his race, national origin, and religious beliefs in putting him ...

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On Friday, March 15, a unanimous Supreme Court decided two companion cases (Lindke v. Freed and O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier) that resolved a split in the Circuits concerning whether public officials can be held liable under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for blocking posts on social media sites, in these cases, Facebook.

As the Court noted in Lindke v. Freed, Section 1983—as is well known—provides a cause of action against ‘[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State’ deprives someone of a federal constitutional or statutory ...

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To the surprise of no one connected with the case, or who just listened to the oral argument, the Supreme Court, in a per curiam opinion (i.e., unanimously), decided the case of Trump v. Anderson, holding that states have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment with respect to federal offices, in this case, the presidency.

Accordingly, absent congressional action—and there has been none—former President Trump may not be kept off the primary or general election ballot, not just in Colorado, but in any state or territory.

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Most readers of this blog rarely, if ever, become involved in homicide cases.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court’s essentially unanimous decision in McElrath v. Georgia should be of interest because it deals with the issue of inconsistent verdicts, something that many of us have experienced, but this time, as such verdicts might affect double jeopardy. Damian McElrath was charged with malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault for having killed his mother. A jury returned a split verdict against him, finding him “not guilty by reason of insanity” with respect to ...

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Today might ultimately be remembered as among the most consequential days in the history of the Supreme Court and the nation. That will be determined when a decision in Trump v. Anderson is issued.

As any reader of this blog likely is aware, the issue in the Anderson case is whether the Supreme Court of Colorado correctly applied Section 3 of the 14th Amendment in disqualifying ex-President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential primary election in that state. While I’ll refrain from much comment until we actually have a decision to discuss, I note that I, apparently like many ...

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Although the Supreme Court already has heard a number of significant arguments, this term has not yet seen any major substantive opinions. This is not to say that there isn’t a lot going on at, or on the way to, the Court.

Indeed, with national division being so profound as the 2024 election cycle is underway, it is not unlikely that the Court will opine on important reproductive rights cases generated in the wake of the Dobbs decision, on whether the defeated ex-president can be barred from state ballots under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, and, in light of filings made just today, on ...

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A 6-3 Court, sharply divided along conservative and liberal jurisprudential lines, has decided the two headlining cases involving affirmative action in university admissions: Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College gets top billing, perhaps relating to the alumni status of several Justices, but the decision also resolves the case of Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina. 

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June 30th is the nominal last day of the Supreme Court's current term. The Court began the day with the long-awaited decision in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, another 6-3 jurisprudentially ideological split in which, per Justice Gorsuch, the Court holds that the First Amendment prohibits Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which the designer disagrees. As was the situation with yesterday's affirmative action cases, it is hard to tell whether the majority and the dissenters (Justice Sotomayor writing their opinion) are speaking about the same case. The majority views this as a clear case of forced speech. To the dissenters, this is no more than a matter of requiring conduct—the sale of services—on the basis of equality. Thus, Justice Gorsuch opines, “Colorado seeks to force an individual to speak in ways that align with its views but defy her conscience about a matter of major significance.” As Justice Sotomayor sees it, ”[t]oday, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.”

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As the end of the term approaches, the Court is increasingly divided in its decisions. However, the composition of the majorities is not often the 6-3 conservative/liberal division stereotype that many observers, critics, and media expect. As several key decisions show today, the Chief Justice has taken up the center ground and, as I've suggested before, often has the ability to bring Justice Kavanaugh with him, as they, to paraphrase the country singer Maren Morris, meet in the middle.

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Of the four cases decided today, the one that likely pertains to the largest number of this blog’s readers is Coinbase, Inc. v. Bielski, a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Kavanaugh, who wrote for himself, the Chief Justice, and Justices Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett. Interestingly, Justice Thomas largely joined Justice Jackson’s dissenting opinion.

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With four decisions today, the Court has now cut its backlog down to the mid-teens. And with decisions likely tomorrow as well, the Court is well on its way to clearing the docket as the term ends.

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The question of whether a would-be trademark, “TRUMP TOO SMALL,” warrants a First Amendment exception to the Lanham Act’s prohibition on registering a living person’s name as a trademark without that person’s permission has now reached the United States Supreme Court. On June 5, 2023, in Vidal v. Elster, Case 22-704, the high court granted the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (hereinafter, the “Government”) petition for certiorari to determine whether, under 15 U.S.C. § 1052(c), the refusal to register a trademark containing another person’s name violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment when that mark implies criticism of a government official or public figure. As we wrote last year, one cannot normally trademark another person’s name, but in the case of Steve Elster’s trademark application for TRUMP TOO SMALL, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the “CAFC”) held in In re Elster, 26 F.4th 1328, 2022 USPQ2d 195 (Fed. Cir. 2022), that one’s First Amendment right to make social commentary about a public figure trumps (bad pun intended) the Lanham Act. Whether the Supreme Court agrees with the CAFC soon will be determined.

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It should come as no surprise to constitutionalists, practitioners under the Federal False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§3729–3733) (FCA), and auditors of the oral argument in the case that the Supreme Court has held that the federal government may move to dismiss an FCA action under §3730(c)(2)(A) whenever it has intervened—whether during the seal period or later on. United States ex rel. Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, Inc. To assert this right, the government must actually intervene (which is not difficult since the statute allows it at any time before final judgment, even on appeal), and the propriety of dismissal is to be adjudicated pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a), the rule generally governing voluntary dismissal of suits in ordinary civil litigation, and dismissal should be granted in all but the most extraordinary cases. 

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Indian tribal rights led the Supreme Court’s docket today. In one case, the Court held that the federal Bankruptcy Code abrogated the sovereign immunity of tribal governments. And in another, this time upholding tribal rights, the Court held upheld the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), with its arguably discriminatory provision requiring the placement of foster or adoptive Indian children with Indian caretakers. Justice Gorsuch, perhaps the Court’s most interested and knowledgeable member concerning tribal rights and interests, was the lone dissenter in the bankruptcy case and provided a unique historical perspective in a scholarly concurrence in the ICWA case. Finally, a unanimous Court held that the Constitution allows the retrial of a defendant who had been tried in an improper venue before jurors drawn from the wrong district. Three interesting and detailed opinions, none reflecting any major division in the Court, though perhaps Justices Thomas and Alito might seem to live on an island of their own.

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Emerging from the pattern of unanimity, or near unanimity, that has characterized most of the cases decided so far this term, the Supreme Court decided one of its most eagerly awaited and controversial casesAnd the outcome of the case will confound the predictions of many voting-rights analysts and critics of the Court and its Chief Justice.

The case is Allen v. Milligan, and, in a 5-4 opinion written by the Chief Justice, and joined by Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson, and, most significantly, by Justice Kavanaugh, the Court held that a districting plan adopted by the State of Alabama for its 2022 congressional elections likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 52 U. S. C. §10301. I think it is fair to say that, following the oral argument of the case, most liberal commentators expected significant further erosion of Section 2, and most politically, if not jurisprudentially, conservative observers were licking their lips. Each side has been surprised.

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Continuing the issuance of opinions as to which the Justices are largely of one mind, the Court today handed down three decisions. Each gives important guidance to litigators on both sides of the ball. The first of these is a unanimous opinion settling the hotly debated question of whether intent under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) is a subjective or objective matter. It is the former. The second decision, also unanimous, clarified what a plaintiff must plead and prove to establish securities fraud regarding a stock offering through a direct listing. The third case offers a lone dissent over a majority and concurring opinions rejecting a labor union’s argument that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) preempts a state court tort action concerning workers sabotaging a company’s concrete trucks.

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With essential unanimity, though with an array of concurrences in one of them, the Supreme Court ruled against government parties in three cases, two of them in favor of homeowners, and in property rights and environmental enforcement cases, and a third, upholding the right of appeal by a prison guard charged with causing a detainee's beating.

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In a per curiam opinion issued in Calcutt v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Court has reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and remanded to it an enforcement action that had been brought against a bank executive charged with mismanaging a loan relationship. After agency proceedings were completed and sanctions ordered, the Sixth Circuit held that the FDIC had made two fundamental legal errors in adjudicating the case against the bank CEO who had appealed. However, instead of remanding the case to the FDIC, the Sixth Circuit conducted its own review and concluded that the FDIC had, on the evidence presented, made a supportable decision to ban and fine the executive.

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The Supreme Court issued no fewer than six opinions on Thursday, May 18, addressing questions including whether an internet platform might be held liable as an aider and abettor of terrorist activity, and whether Andy Warhol’s famous alterations of photos of the artist known as Prince violated the copyright of an almost-as-famous photographer.

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With the Justices largely in agreement across the board, the Court today issued five opinions. One of them provides a usefully definitive view of the limited nature of the so-called “dormant Commerce Clause.” Two of them are criminal law cases in which all the Justices were united in reversing the Second Circuit and taking a textually literal, constricting view favorable to defendants as to what constitutes wire fraud and related theft of honest services. Another decision favors a non-citizen fighting removal from the United States, and yet another upholds the sovereign immunity of U.S. territorial governments and their agencies.

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On Wednesday, April 19, the Court decided three cases that are interesting and instructive in following how the Justices, both nominal liberals and conservatives, attempt to apply textual methodology in assessing jurisdictional prerequisites, though not always reaching unanimous results.

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Once again, with a substantial backlog of cases—some of them potentially controversial—argued and pending decision, the Court continues to sail in relatively calm waters.

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While the substantial backlog of decisions has many observers waiting for a flood of rulings, the Supreme Court is moving at its own pace. Thus, the Court has issued a single opinion today, but especially for readers who are involved in administrative law challenges to administrative agency determinations, it is an important one. And it might become even more significant to the extent that it augurs future limitations on agency autonomy.

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The Supreme Court issued a single opinion today. Wilkins v. United States concerns a property rights dispute between the federal government and two owners of land near the Bitterroot National Forest in rural Montana to which the government claims an easement that, it argues, includes public access, which the petitioners dispute. They, therefore, sued the government under the Quiet Title Act (the “Act”), which allows challenges to the United States’ rights in real property. The government moved to dismiss on the ground that the petitioners’ claim is barred by the Act’s 12-year statute of limitations. See 28 U. S. C. §2409a(g). The issue before the Court was whether the time bar is jurisdictional or, as the Court held in a 6-3 decision, a nonjurisdictional claims-processing rule.

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While the backlog of argued cases pending decision has been growing substantially, the Court rendered only one opinion today, and it was unanimous.

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The Supreme Court decided two cases today, and though neither of them presents the sort of widely consequential matter that, say, the President's student loan forgiveness plan that was argued this morning does, each has interesting aspects. Both are decided on the now-vogueish doctrine of textualism, though each shows divisions among the Justices that prove again that not only can Justices who have differing jurisprudential philosophies agree with one another as to statutory meaning, but that Justices with the same jurisprudential philosophy can disagree with one another on text as well. Thus, while there are cases, like Dobbs, where one might accurately predict the outcome on the basis of philosophy or alignment with the preferences of the President who nominated various Justices, there is a host of cases where labels don't hold up at all.

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The Court has broken the logjam of pending opinions, rendering three decisions today, one of which, dealing with the issue of when overtime pay is mandated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), might have a broader effect. So, let's start with that one: Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. v. Hewitt.

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While many commentators were wondering when the Supreme Court would start issuing opinions, the backlog of argued cases now being substantial, today is their day.

The Supreme Court is back in live session, and so is this blog.

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The October term of the Court began yesterday, with a sitting that marked the very active debut of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and predictions that this term will be even more controversial than last, although it is difficult for me to imagine a more incendiary decision than Dobbs.

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The Court has now delivered its final two decisions of the term, one of them of great consequence to administrative law. With adjournment comes the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer and the swearing-in of his successor, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, his former clerk, who is expected to be a dependable member of the Court’s liberal jurisprudential wing. All in all, a day of significance.

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With his retirement to begin on June 30 at noon, Justice Breyer leads a 5-4 split in Torres v. Texas Department of Public Safety, with the Chief Justice and Justice Kavanaugh, along with Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, joining him in holding that, by virtue of the states having ratified the Constitution, they agreed that their sovereignty would yield to the national power to raise and support the Armed Forces. Accordingly, Congress may exercise this national power to authorize private damages suits against nonconsenting states. Congress did just that when it passed the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), which gives returning servicemembers the right to reclaim their prior jobs with state employers, and authorizes suit if those employers refuse to accommodate veterans’ service-related disabilities. See 38 U. S. C. § §4301 et seq.

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Coming off the decisions in the landmark Dobbs and Bruen cases, the rest of the term might seem anticlimactic. Nevertheless, as the shelf is being cleared of the remaining cases, there are still rulings of significance to come. As the week opened, one of them—a religious freedom case—likely didn't surprise anyone who listened to the oral argument or, indeed, who has been paying attention to the conservative Justices having changed the valences in religious liberty cases. The other two cases decided on the opening day of the week were both criminal cases of limited interest, but important nevertheless.

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The day after the Gallup organization reported that public confidence in the Supreme Court has reached new lows, the Court has added what, to many, will be more fuel to that fire. The long-awaited, hotly contested, and divisive opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization has officially come down and, given reactions to the premature release of a draft of Justice Alito's majority opinion, the public's expectations on both sides of the abortion debate have been realized.

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New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen is the long-awaited New York gun licensing decision that has been hotly debated since its filing. Especially in light of recent school shootings, that debate is likely to intensify now that the case has been decided. As many predicted, the decision, overturning the state’s statute, provides a stark split between the Court’s predominant conservatives and its liberals.

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I'm currently in the wilds of Alaska, learning about the training of sled dogs. Nevertheless, word of the Supreme Court's five most recent decisions has traveled northward. While none of these decisions is earthshaking, they are not uninteresting or unimportant, especially to those like health care and employee benefits lawyers.

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On June 15, the Court decided five cases and dismissed a sixth. A case of great importance to health care lawyers, regarding the availability of judicial review of Medicare rates for pharmaceuticals, and another of great importance to labor and employment lawyers, holding that a significant portion of the California Private Attorneys General Act's (PAGA’s) delegation of state enforcement power is preempted by federal law, lead the pack.

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The Court has had a busy day, having decided cases of significance to litigators and interest groups, but none is the blockbuster decision in societally divisive matters that the general public has been awaiting. In short, this is a business-as-usual day, with opinions sometimes showing broad consensus on the Court, but with some not-unexpected dissents.

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Notwithstanding the fact that, as we approach the end of the term, the Court still had 30 cases to decide as of Wednesday morning, June 8, the day’s count has only been reduced by one. So, expect a flurry of cases with the most controversial of them (think firearms and reproductive rights) perhaps coming down at the end.

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The Court has started the week with three decisions emphasizing textual readings, two of them unanimous and a third drawing Justice Kagan into the majority with the Court’s six nominal jurisprudential conservatives.

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Despite a large list of argued cases pending decision, the Court decides just two of them today—neither of them Dobbs.

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It is fair, I think, to say that a substantial majority of those who heard the argument in the case of Federal Election Commission v. Ted Cruz for Senate doubted that, irrespective of whatever they might think of Ted Cruz, it was highly likely that he and his campaign organization would prevail in challenging the federal campaign finance law limitation on the use of post-election funds to repay a candidate's personal loans as violative of the First Amendment rights of candidates who want to make expenditures on behalf of their own candidacy through personal loans. But, by a six-three division between the Court's judicial conservatives and liberals, that is precisely what has occurred. Those who criticize the Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), likely will feel much the same way about the Cruz case.

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Further evidencing an ongoing shift from more absolutist thinking about the intersection between the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and an individual's or group's right of free speech, we find this morning's unanimous decision in Shurtleff v. Boston in which the Court, reversing the First Circuit, held that the city of Boston violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment when it refused to let a group fly a Christian flag outside city hall. As Justice Breyer explained, in what will be among the last of his opinions:

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Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, P.L.L.C. is a very important case for employment and benefits practitioners. The Court, divided 6-3 along conservative/liberal lines, has held that emotional distress damages are not recoverable in a private action to enforce either the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the case affects potential results under four statutes that Congress has enacted pursuant to its Spending Clause authority that prohibit recipients of federal funds from discriminating with respect to matters including race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. See Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI, 42 U. S. C. §2000d; Education Amendments Act of 1972, Title IX, 20 U. S. C. §1681; Rehabilitation Act of 1973, §504, 29 U. S. C. §794; Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), §1557, 42 U. S. C. §18116. The Court previously held that victims of intentional violations of these statutes may bring private lawsuits seeking to recover, among other things, compensatory damages. Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, 503 U. S. 60, 76 (1992). Today, the Court holds that the damages available under these statutes cannot include compensation for emotional suffering.

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Auguring a flood of opinions in the remaining weeks of the term, the Supreme Court decided five cases today. Some of them offer support for the media/popular equation of a political party background with jurisprudential outcomes, but others clearly do not. Interestingly, several cases decided by wide margins also, through concurrences and dissents, lay down markers that could affect the outcomes of future cases.

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There has been a good deal of recent attention given to the Supreme Court's so-called "shadow docket," a term that refers generally to the Court's (conservative majority's) issuing brief orders and unsigned opinions resolving procedural motions in a way that effectively disposes of cases, but without their having been fully briefed and argued.

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I write this from London on the eve of the announcement that the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to succeed Justice Breyer is about to go to the full Senate for confirmation. Those who follow my writings will know that I am among a group of right-of-center former public officials in Republican administrations who are on record as supporting this nomination of an experienced and well-qualified federal judge.

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The Court has decided the latest in a series of important cases interpreting the reach of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U. S. C. §§ 1 et seq.

On March 31, in Badgerow v. Walters, by an 8-1 majority (opinion written by Justice Kagan, and a lone dissent by Justice Breyer), the Court reversed an order of the Fifth Circuit and held that the federal courts do not have authority to “look through” an arbitration dispute for a federal question that would establish jurisdiction to confirm or deny an arbitral award.

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The Court issued opinions in two cases today, both interesting in their particular factual circumstances, but neither controversial, with one unanimously decided and the other with a lone dissent.

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In an unsigned per curiam order, the Court today reversed a decision of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin that, in a dispute about the assignment of the number of so-called minority-majority districts, chose an electoral map drawn by the governor over several other such proposals. Wisconsin Legislature v. Wisconsin Election Commission.

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On a single evening, William Dale Wooden went on a spree, burglarizing 10 units in the same storage facility. The question resolved in the Supreme Court’s somewhat unanimous decision in Wooden v. United States is whether, under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U. S. C. §924(e)(1) (ACCA), Wooden’s prior convictions were for offenses occurring on different “occasions,” because the burglary of each unit happened at a distinct point in time, rather than simultaneously. All of the Justices (Kagan, J., writing the definitive majority opinion) agreed that the answer is “no.” Convictions arising from a single criminal episode can only count once under ACCA.

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The Supreme Court decided two more cases today, one unanimously, the other anything but so.

Yesterday, in United States v. Zubaydah, the Court upheld the government’s assertion of the state secrets privilege, rejecting an al Qaeda terrorist leader’s discovery request for information concerning his torture by the CIA. The Court continued its interest in the privilege in today’s unanimous opinion, authored by Justice Alito, in Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fazaga.

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The Court has decided two important cases today, United States v. Zubaydah, upholding the government’s assertion of the state secrets privilege and rejecting the al Qaeda terrorist leader’s discovery request for information concerning his torture by the CIA, and Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, P.S.C., allowing the intervention of the Kentucky attorney general to assume the defense of the state’s abortion law after the official who had been defending the law decided not to seek further review. Both cases are, at root, about significant issues of public interest and policy—the torture of terrorists and restrictive abortion policies—but neither opinion resolves any such question. Indeed, the lessons learned from each of these cases are essentially procedural, and though the outcomes are determined by significant margins, the alliances of Justices on the multiple opinions published are also instructive.

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The Court has decided the case of Unicolors, Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, L.P., holding that lack of knowledge of either fact or law can excuse an inaccuracy in a copyright registration. Reversing the Ninth Circuit, the Court held that the appeals court was wrong to overturn a copyright infringement verdict that a fabric designer won against fast-fashion chain H&M when it ruled that inadvertent legal errors cannot be the basis for challenging a copyright registration.

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The pension trustees of Northwestern University, and those elsewhere, will need to take close note of the Court’s unanimous decision (Barrett, J., not participating) in Hughes v. Northwestern University in which the Court returns yet again to interpreting the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), this time in the context of determining the extent of ERISA fiduciaries’ duty to monitor investments and remove imprudent ones. See Tibble v. Edison International, 575 U.S. 523 (2015).

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Late in the afternoon of January 19th, the Supreme Court dealt a crippling blow to the argument of the defeated former President, when by an 8-1 majority (Thomas, J., dissenting), the Court denied Mr. Trump's application for a stay of the mandate and injunction pending the review of the decision of the D.C. Circuit in the case of Trump v. Thompson, ordering the transmission by the Archivist of the documents sought by the House Select January 6th Committee.

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The Court didn’t waste time getting to a controversial matter, the applications for stays of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (“OSHA’s”) COVID-19 mandate concerning alternatives of mandatory testing, masking, or vaccination directed at employers and the Department of Health & Human Services (“DHHS”) mandate directed at health care facilities and their workers.

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The Court has resumed issuing opinions with its holding in Babcock v. Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. This case of statutory interpretation is of particular interest to the relatively small set of individuals who claim retirement benefits based on simultaneous service in two federal pension systems. The Court's opinion, written by Justice Barrett, was joined by all of the other Justices, save for Justice Gorsuch, who, somewhat self-consciously, dissented.

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Readers of SCOTUS Today, especially employers, might appreciate seeing an article that I co-wrote concerning the Supreme Court's rejection of a petition to enjoin New York State's vaccine mandate applicable to health care workers: Supreme Court Lets New York’s Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers Stand.”

This action is consequential on its face because while future litigation by health care workers and others is certain, no fewer than six Justices have indicated support for a major mandate that allows for very limited exemptions. This marks the second time that the Court has rejected such a petition.

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No case in recent months has created more news than the Mississippi abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, as to which the Supreme Court recently heard oral argument.

Commentators on all sides of the inherently controversial issue of abortion have, often with great self-importance, opined how, at least in their views, each of the Justices will decide the case and how that decision will affect the Court’s two major opinions in the area: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey. We likely will have to wait months to know the outcome of Dobbs, in which the state argues that the trimester-based regime of Roe must be overruled.

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While this post is not going to be of profound interest to most practitioners, it serves at least two purposes. First, it marks the new flow of formal opinions of the Court for the current term, and second, it is a reminder that there is a small category of cases that proceed to the Court in its original jurisdiction—one that includes suits between states.

Article III, section 2, of the Constitution provides that “In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "Reflecting on Bostock."

The following is an excerpt:

From the number of rainbow flags that I’ve been seeing, it is clear that this is a month of celebration of increasing societal inclusion, notwithstanding the divisions that are challenging the rule of law in America. Indeed, today marks the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County in which, surprising to some, Justice Gorsuch wrote for the majority that an ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "Unanimity on Criminal Cases as We Wait for More Divisive Matters."

The following is an excerpt:

Not surprisingly, as the Court's term moves nearer to its end, we still are awaiting decisions in several controversial areas that are likely to produce divided results. Meanwhile, unanimity prevails, though the cases in which it is reflected are unlikely to foreshadow the results in other matters, except to the extent that I think all of them will devolve from ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "The Justices Show Again That They Are Not Politicians in Robes."

The following is an excerpt:

A short note about the Supreme Court’s decision today in Borden v. United States, in which it considered whether a felon-in-possession gun charge qualified as a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“Act”), 18 U. S. C. §924, which provides enhanced penalties for criminals convicted of certain firearms offenses who have at least ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "The Court Takes a Literal Approach to Statutory Interpretation Again - This Time, to Immigration Laws."

The following is an excerpt:

This term’s potential blockbusters still are unresolved, but this morning’s unanimous decision in Sanchez v. Mayorkus is worthy of at least a passing note. In an opinion written by Justice Kagan, the Court held that an individual who entered the United States unlawfully and was later granted Temporary Protective ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "The Supreme Court Limits the Effective Reach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act."

The following is an excerpt:

Those of us who deal regularly with cybersecurity matters have been waiting eagerly for the Supreme Court’s decision in Van Buren v. United States, which raised the question of whether the language of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (CFAA), 18 U. S. C. §1030(a)(2), which subjects to criminal liability anyone who “intentionally ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "A Placid Beginning to the Last Month of the Term."

The following is an excerpt:

This morning begins what many are anticipating to be an exciting last month of the 2020 term. Among other things, we expect to find out about the continued viability of the Affordable Care Act, and several First Amendment matters, including the extent to which religious expression trumps antidiscrimination laws, and the ability of a school to sanction off-campus speech. These ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "A Unanimous Court Rules That District Courts Can't Modify Appellate Cost Awards."

The following is an excerpt:

The case of City of San Antonio v. Hotels.com L.P. has ended with a long opinion, reaching a simple and direct conclusion. A unanimous Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Justice Alito, has held that Fed. R. App. P. 39 does not permit a district court to modify or eliminate an allocation of costs awarded by a court of appeals to a successful ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson authored an article in Bloomberg Law, titled “No-Poaching Agreements, Wage Fixing & Antitrust Prosecution.”

The following is an excerpt (see below to download the full version in PDF format):

Especially in difficult economic times, companies look for stability and predictability. Hence, while intent upon avoiding litigation charging wage fixing or its close cousin, no-poach agreements, experience suggests that there are companies that might be considering various ways to exchange information related to employment that can be used for ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "A Unanimous Court Applies Unambiguous Statutory Requirements in Two New Decisions".

The following is an excerpt:

The Court is in full-majority mode today, again focusing on text rather than more abstract notions of policy.

In Territory of Guam v. United States, a unanimous Court, in an opinion written by Justice Thomas, reversed the D.C. Circuit and revived Guam’s suit against the U.S. Navy, seeking $160 million because of pollution at a waste ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "Court Grants Certiorari in Abortion Case, Issues Several Decisions, and Continues to Demonstrate an Essential Commitment to Textualism".

The following is an excerpt:

The most widely reported action that the Supreme Court took this past Monday is its grant of cert. to review an en banc decision of the Fifth Circuit that, if reversed, would substantially undercut Roe v. Wade. That case won’t be argued until next fall and, for now, the readers of ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "The Court at Peace".

The following is an excerpt:

Given that there was a good deal of media interest in Justice Sotomayor’s somewhat vituperative dissenting criticism of Justice Kavanaugh in last week’s decision in the criminal sentencing case of Jones v. Mississippi¸ today’s per curiam GVR (Grant, Vacate, and Remand) order in Alaska v. Wright is worthy of at least passing mention.

Once again, the Ninth Circuit is reversed, this time ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "The Court Dismisses the Trump Twitter Account Case as Moot, but Social Media Is Sure to Be on the Menu Again".

The following is an excerpt:

Yesterday, I discussed the Supreme Court's move into the world of technology in the case of Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc., in which the Court held that Google's copying of a small slice of Java programming language code constituted a permissible “fair use” of Oracle's assumed copyright of Java itself. The ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "The Court Won't Allow Second-Guessing of Convictions Supported by Persuasive Evidence".

The following is an excerpt:

In a per curiam opinion (Sotomayor, J., dissenting without opinion), the Court today decided the case of Mays v. Hines, reversing the Sixth Circuit and reinstating a judgment of conviction in a murder case that originated almost 35 years ago.

Hines had been convicted of murder in the wake of evidence that he had been seen fleeing the ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "The Supreme Court Takes a Lenient View of Personal Jurisdiction and 4th Amendment Seizures".

The following is an excerpt:

The Court rendered two opinions on Thursday, both interesting and impactful, one of them particularly significant with respect to civil litigation practice.

Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court arose following two motor vehicle accidents, one in Montana, the other in Minnesota, in which Ford vehicles were ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: Understanding Standing Under Article III – and the Chief Justice Stands Alone.

The following is an excerpt:

Articles in the popular press have noted that today's decision by a near-unanimous Supreme Court in the case of Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski represents a victory for several Christian students in their battle against a college's restrictive policies that prevented their on-campus religious evangelizing.

It is true enough that the now-former ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: The Supreme Court Decides Significant Administrative Law Case Preventing Disclosure of Agency Deliberations

The following is an excerpt:

The Court decided two cases today, one of which is an administrative law case that may prove consequential, not just in the field of environmental law, in which it is grounded, but in other areas of the law, for example, health care, in which prospective rules undergo repeated drafts and modifications. United States ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: A Hint About the Future of the Affordable Care Act.

The following is an excerpt:

There were no opinions delivered today, only very heated and important argument in the consolidated cases of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee.

These cases concern whether two of Arizona’s voting policies—one prohibiting counting provisional ballots cast on election day outside of a ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: Court’s Unanimous Opinion in Federal Tort Claims Act Case Provides Useful Guidance on Claim/Issue Preclusion.

The following is an excerpt:

The Court rendered a unanimous opinion (per Thomas, J., with Sotomayor, J., concurring) in the case of Brownback v. King. The Respondent, King, suffered personal injury in a confrontation with Brownback and Allen, two members of a federal task force, and brought suit against them and others under the Federal ...

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Our colleagues Stuart Gerson and Daniel Fundakowski of Epstein Becker Green have a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: "Court Declines Resolving Circuit Split on What Constitutes a 'False' Claim, but Will Consider Legality of Trump Abortion Gag Rule."

The following is an excerpt:

While this blog usually is confined to the analysis of the published opinions of the Supreme Court, several of this morning’s orders are worthy of discussion because of their importance to health care lawyers and policy experts. Guest editor Dan Fundakowski joins me in ...

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Advances in artificial intelligence (“AI”) continue to present exciting opportunities to transform decision-making and targeted marketing within the world of consumer products. While AI has been touted for its capabilities in creating fairer, more inclusive systems, including with respect to lending and creditworthiness, AI models can also embed human and societal biases in a way that can result in unintended, and potentially unlawful, downstream effects.

Mostly when we talk about bias, we focus on accidental bias. What about intentional bias? The following ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: Biden DOJ No Longer Argues That the ACA Is Unconstitutional

The following is an excerpt:

While the Supreme Court is in recess this week, and public attention is drawn to the trial of Donald Trump in the Senate, there is one event at the Court that is worthy of attention, particularly by those who counsel clients in the health care space. In a letter to the Court, the Biden Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has reversed the position that the previous administration had ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: Court Favors Judicial Review in Railroad Benefits Case, Remands Two Cases Concerning Nazi-Era Looted Property.

The following is an excerpt:

The Supreme Court decided three cases Wednesday, two of them related. None of them could be characterized as a blockbuster ruling or even a matter of broad national interest. One of them, however, will garner much inside-baseball commentary because the 5-4 majority that decided it included the Chief Justice and Justice ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: Court Refuses to Take Another Look at Case Questioning Whether Judge or Arbitrator Should Decide Scope of Arbitration Agreement

The following is an excerpt:

The overall quiet at the Court on Monday was only lightly interrupted with its per curiam decision in Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., dismissing the petition for certiorari to the Fifth Circuit as improvidently granted. I mention it because the dismissal leaves open the questions that ...

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Our colleague Stuart Gerson of Epstein Becker Green has a new post on SCOTUS Today that will be of interest to our readers: Unanimous Court Applies “Plain Meaning” Approach in Bankruptcy Decision

The following is an excerpt:

Bankruptcy is not usually a subject that I would cover in this blog, but I write about the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision today in City of Chicago v. Fulton for two reasons. The first is obvious in that, in these uncertain times, there is an unfortunate number of companies that are contemplating reorganization and others that, as a result, are taking ...

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