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?

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court released its opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade—the 1973 landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion. Now, companies that operate in states where abortions are banned or restricted are facing a quagmire of laws and risks regarding enforcement. Additionally, the risk landscape is not static, but rather in flux, as the federal government (agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and a myriad of states introduce new legislation and issue guidance on a near-daily basis.

Continue Reading Warning Signs of a Criminal Investigation: Considerations for In-House Counsel and Corporate Executives in a Post-Roe World

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.

Continue Reading Two and Done: SCOTUS Today

Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has declared that authority to regulate abortion rests with the states, organizations operating across state lines face new and some unprecedented challenges created by the civil and criminal legal issues arising from risks of enforcement in any state where abortion is or will be banned (a “ban state”). Health care providers, employers, and other organizations with any nexus to such states will need to conduct careful analyses and may have to accept an unknown level of enforcement risk while various jurisdictions respond to their newfound power and determine if and how to wield it. The risks may extend to providers who deliver abortions, patients seeking abortions, companies who support their employees traveling to non-ban states to receive abortions, and their executives. The outer parameters of who is subject to enforcement risk are presently unknown but are likely to vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Continue Reading The Impact of Dobbs: Enforcement Risks to Expect and Monitor

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

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 Judicial Conference of the United States’ Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure seems poised to advance proposed amendments to Federal Rule of Evidence 702, after the Advisory Committee on Evidence unanimously voted to approve the proposed amendments and recommended that the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure refer the amendments to the Judicial Conference for a full vote.

Continue Reading One Step Closer to a Revised Standard for the Admissibility of Expert Testimony Under Rule 702

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