Arguments: Week of November 6, 2017

The Court will hear only two arguments this week — one each on Monday and on Tuesday. It has also indicated that the first opinion(s) may be issued on Wednesday. In addition, orders from last Friday’s Conference will be released on Monday.

On Monday, the Court will hear oral arguments in a bankruptcy case, Merit Management Group, LP v. FTI Consulting, Inc. In this case the Court is being asked to resolve a circuit split about when funds transferred before a bankruptcy can be recovered by the bankruptcy trustee.

Tuesday the Court will hear Patchak v. Zinke, which poses the question of whether Congress violated the separation of powers principle of the Constitution when it passed legislation mandating federal courts to dismiss a lawsuit. David Patchak, a Michigan resident, sued Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Department of Interior, for allotting a tract of land to the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians to build a casino near his property. After the case was under way — in fact, after the Supreme Court determined that sovereign immunity did not preclude it — Congress passed the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act, which provides that any case relating to the land at issue be “promptly dismissed,”, but that made no substantive changes to the governing law. The Government contends that this provision does not violate the Constitution because Congress has the ability “to define and limit the jurisdiction of the inferior courts of the United States.” Marcia Coyle of PBS NewsHour describes the issues in the case, explaining that, “[s]eparation-of-powers issues go to the fundamental structure of our Constitution.”  The case also poses the question of whether a statute that does not amend a substantive or procedural law, but deprives a petitioner the right to pursue his pending lawsuit, violates the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

This post was drafted by ISCOTUS Fellow Michael Halpin, Chicago-Kent Class of 2020, and edited by ISCOTUS Fellow Bridget Flynn, Chicago-Kent Class of 2019.

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