In a brush-back pitch to DOJ opioid initiatives, the U.S. Supreme Court this past June issued an important decision clarifying the mental state the government must establish to convict a licensed medical professional of illegal drug distribution under the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). No longer can a doctor be convicted of such a crime based on objectively unreasonable prescribing practices alone. The government now must show that the medical professional subjectively, knowingly, and intentionally prescribed a controlled substance with no legitimate medical purpose. While unlikely to materially impact the number of DOJ opioid prosecutions, the case will no doubt inform charging decisions in marginal cases and will support important defense arguments at trial.

Continue Reading Will the Supreme Court’s Latest Decision on Mens Rea Leave Medical Professional Prosecutions Ruan-ing on Empty?

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.

Continue Reading A Divided Court Rules Against States in Veterans’ Employment and Indian Country Criminal Jurisdiction Cases: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Dobbs Overrules Roe v. Wade: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading NY Gun Case Tops Day of Contentious Decisions: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Five More Opinions and Justice Gorsuch Shows an Independent Streak: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Six Down, 24 to Go: An Important Day for Health Care and Employment Lawyers – SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading A Cluster of Decisions on Federal Procedure, Immigration, and Arbitration, but Plenty to Go: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading Court Refuses to Extend Bivens to Excessive Force and Retaliation Claims: SCOTUS Today

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.

Continue Reading A Peaceful Resolution of Cases Concerning Arbitration, Medicaid, and Bankruptcy—All Involving Textual Analysis: SCOTUS Today

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

Continue Reading Court Holds That Judges Can’t Invent Rules Governing Arbitration Waiver and Makes It Harder for Prisoners to Show Ineffective Assistance: SCOTUS Today