The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (for Appellate Law Nerds)
June 11, 2013
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and Supreme Court law clerks are showing signs of rickets. June is that magical time of the year when a certain segment of the bar (we know who we are) spend Monday mornings glued to SCOTUSblog’s live feed of opinion announcements. The rest of the bar (you know who you are, too) shrug their collective shoulders in a startlingly accurate imitation of my preteen son and say, “Whatevs, lady. What’s it to me?”
Actually, quite a lot. This year’s Supreme Court term is packed with major social and pocketbook issues. You already know the biggies (DOMA, Prop 8, the Voting Rights Act), but there are a few others worth keeping your eye out for (links are to SCOTUSblog’s excellent coverage):
American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter: The Supreme Court sails once more into the murky waters of class-wide arbitration. We’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics: Are human genes patentable? That drip, drip, drip sound you hear is not a gentle spring shower. It is the sound of patent trolls salivating.
FTC v. Actavis: If a pharmaceutical company pays a generic drug maker not to make a generic version of a patented drug–which would first require invalidation of the patent–is that settlement of a legitimate dispute, or an anti-competitive sham? I think this case is the most important of the term, because how the Court answers that question will affect how much each and every one of us pays for prescription medication.
Vance v. Ball State University: This one’s for the employment lawyers. A number of years ago, the Supreme Court held that employers can only be held liable for discrimination by supervisors (i.e., those with the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, etc.). The question in this case is whether a “supervisor” also includes a person with daily authority over an employee, even if that person lacks authority to make ultimate employment decisions.
Salinas v. Texas: I remember being outraged in law school upon learning that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination did not apply to pre-arrest, pre-Miranda silence (Doyle v. Ohio, but don’t be impressed–I had to look it up). Apparently I didn’t read Doyle closely enough (which would explain my grade in that course), because the Supreme Court actually left the question of pre-arrest silence open. This case presents that question.
Last but not least, a couple for the South Carolinians out there …
Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl: Does the Indian Child Welfare Act preempt state adoption law? This heartbreaking case arose out of the S.C. Supreme Court.
Maracich v. Spears: Plaintiffs’ lawyers, take note. This case (out of South Carolina via the Fourth Circuit) asks whether the litigation exception to the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act applies to solicitation of plaintiffs based on a ”placeholder suit.”
Stay tuned for further developments …