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.

Continue Reading The Court Rules Out Emotional Distress Damages Under Anti-Discrimination Statutes: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Decides Five Cases, Some of Which Lay Down Markers That Could Impact Future Decisions: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Are the Shadows Lifting?: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Two Trump Appointees Surprise Those Who Expect Conservative Lockstep: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Court Limits Federal Jurisdiction Over Arbitration Cases, Denies Certiorari in Private Non-Delegation Doctrine Case: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading The Court Upholds a College Board’s Censure of One of Its Members, and Delays an Execution on Religious Grounds: SCOTUS Today

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.
Continue Reading Wisconsin Court’s Decision in Alleged Gerrymandering Case Is Reversed: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Court Rules That Crime Spree Involving 10 Burglaries in Same Evening Counts as Single “Occasion” Under Armed Career Criminal Act: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Court Holds That FISA Doesn’t Trump the State Secrets Privilege and Restores the Capital Murder Conviction of the Boston Marathon Bomber: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Broad Majority Decisions in Terrorist Torture and Abortion Law Cases Resolve Important State Secrets and Intervention Procedural Issues: SCOTUS Today