Over the next month, we should be able to review several key decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court usually finishes releasing their decisions for the previous term in June. Here are the six cases we will be reading about soon. For each case, you can find the date argued, a link to entire docket (thanks to the ABA website) and the question(s) presented to the court:
1. Arizona v. United States – Argued April 25, 2012
Arizona enacted the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (S.B. 1070) to address the illegal immigration crisis in the State. The four provisions of S.B. 1070 enjoined by the courts below authorize and direct state law enforcement officers to cooperate and communicate with federal officials regarding the enforcement of federal immigration law and impose penalties under state law for non-compliance with federal immigration requirements.
The question presented is whether the federal immigration laws preclude Arizona’s efforts at cooperative law enforcement and impliedly preempt these four provisions of S.B. 1070 on their face.
2. Dorsey v. United States & Hill v. United States – Argued April 17, 2012
Did the Seventh Circuit err when, in conflict with the First and Eleventh Circuits, it held that the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 does not apply to all defendants sentenced after its enactment?
Whether the District Court erred in not sentencing the Defendant-Petitioner pursuant to the “Fair Sentencing Act of 2010″ where Petitioner was sentenced on December 2, 2010 after the effective date of the FSA and the amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines mandated by the FSA?
3. National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius & Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services – Argued March 26-28, 2012
Congress effected a sweeping and comprehensive restructuring of the Nation’s health-insurance markets in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010), as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-152, 124 Stat. 109 (2010) (collectively, the “ACA” or “Act”). But the Eleventh Circuit and the Sixth Circuit now have issued directly conflicting final judgments about the facial constitutionality of the ACA’s mandate that virtually every individual American must obtain health insurance. 26 U.S.C. § 5000A. Moreover, despite the fact that the mandate is a “requirement” that Congress itself deemed “essential” to the Act’s new insurance regulations, 42 U.S.C. § 18091(a)(2)(I), the Eleventh Circuit held that the mandate is severable from the remainder of the Act.
The question presented is whether the ACA must be invalidated in its entirety because it is non-severable from the individual mandate that exceeds Congress’ limited and enumerated powers under the Constitution.
4. Reichle v. Howards – Argued March 21, 2012
Petitioners, two Secret Service agents on protective detail, arrested respondent following an encounter with Vice President Richard Cheney. Petitioners had probable cause to arrest respondent, who in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 falsely denied making unsolicited physical contact with the Vice President. Respondent thereafter brought a First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim against petitioners. The questions presented are:
Whether, as the Tenth Circuit siding with the Ninth Circuit held here, the existence of probable cause to make an arrest does not bar a First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim; or whether, as the Second, Sixth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits have held, probable cause bars such a claim, including under Hartman v. Moore, 547 250 (2006).
Whether the Tenth Circuit erred by denying qualified and absolute immunity to petitioners where probable cause existed for respondent’s arrest, the arrest comported with the Fourth Amendment, it was not (and is not) clearly established that Hartman does not apply to First Amendment retaliatory arrest claims, and the denial of immunity threatens to interfere with the split-second, life-or-death decisions of Secret Service agents protecting the President and Vice President.
5. United States v. Alvarez – Argued February 22, 2012
Section 704(b) of Title 18, United States Code, makes it a crime when anyone “falsely represents himself or herself, verbally or in writing, to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.”
The question presented is whether 18 U.S.C. 704(b) is facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
6. FCC v. Fox Television Stations – Argued January 20, 2012
Whether the court of appeals erred in invalidating a finding by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that a broadcast including expletives was indecent within the meaning of statutory and regulatory prohibitions on indecent broadcasts, on the ground that the FCC’s context-based approach to determining indecency is unconstitutionally vague in its entirety.
Whether the court of appeals erred in invalidating a finding by the FCC that a broadcast including nudity was indecent within the meaning of statutory and regulatory prohibitions on indecent broadcasts, on the ground that the FCC’s context-based approach to determining indecency is unconstitutionally vague in its entirety.
James Maisano, Esq.