Weekly Roundup—June 18, 2016

Did you miss your Supreme Court news this week? Let our Weekly Roundup help. (To stay on top of the latest Supreme Court happenings, follow ISCOTUS on Twitter.)

All together (for) now! The Supreme Court handed down six opinions this week, all but one unanimous.

The justices held in Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust that the Bankruptcy Code preempted the Puerto Rico Public Corporation Debt Enforcement and Recovery Act. Lyle Denniston of Scotusblog wrote that the ruling “left the financial fate of the island entirely in Congress’s hands.” This week the Court also declined to reconsider a case about citizenship for people born in American Samoa. CNN reports the consequences of the Court’s choice.

In Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., the Court decided that the Federal Circuit’s two-part Seagate test dealing with damages in infringement cases was “unduly rigid” and inconsistent with Section 284 of the Patent Act. Greg Stohr of Bloomberg.com sums up this case by saying the Court “eased the way for larger damage awards” in patent cases.

The final opinion released on Monday was United States v. Bryant, which held that there is no constitutional violation for using tribal-court convictions as predicate offenses. Scotusblog’s Amy Howe details the case here.

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., decided that the award of attorney’s fees under the Copyright Act’s fee-shifting provision should give substantial weight to the losing party’s objective reasonableness while also taking into account all other circumstances. At Scotusblog Ronald Mann breaks down Justice Kagan’s opinion. The Jurist reviews the history behind the case.

In Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, the Court held that Section 8127(d) Veterans Benefits, HealthCare, and Information Technology Act applies to all contracting determinations by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lydia Wheeler of The Hill explains more about the Court’s decision in favor of veteran-owned small businesses.

Finally, in Universal Health Services v. Escobar, the Court held that parties who make “implied false certification” can be held liable under the False Claims Acts. The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes breaks down Justice Thomas’ opinions in both Kingdomware and Universal Health Services.


What’s Next?

The Supreme Court has sixteen opinions left to hand down in this term, including big ones on abortion, affirmative action, and immigration. The abortion case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, revisits the “undue burden standard” the Court established in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). Worth revisiting is Dahlia Lithwick’s exuberant account of oral arguments in the case. (“It felt as if, for the first time in history, the gender playing field at the high court was finally leveled, and as a consequence the court’s female justices were emboldened to just ignore the rules.”) And for a guided tour of the history of the Supreme Court and abortion rights, check out Oyez’s brand new online guide!

In another blockbuster case, the Court will weigh in on the immigration debate. United States v. Texas asks whether President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program (DAPA) is constitutional. At issue is the scope of presidential powers, including the limits established by the “Take Care” Clause, and Article II provision the Court has rarely considered. The Washington Post weighs in on that topic, here. Check out Forbes for some thoughts on how Scalia’s death affects this case (among others).

Finally, the Court will decide Fisher v. University of Texas, an affirmative action case it has now seen twice in the past two years. The challengers argue that the University of Texas’s use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Complicating the issue is Texas’s “top-10%” plan, by which a percentage of students from every high school are guaranteed admission to the University of Texas system. Since the “race-neutral”  top-10% plan achieves a substantial measure of diversity at the university, the conservative justices expressed skepticism at oral arguments that the state could justify also using race-conscious policies. Note that Justice Kagan once again recused herself from the case since she worked on it when she was Solicitor General, so a seven-justice Court will be deciding the case. Scotusblog and the Washington Post offer summaries of the issues.

As the end of the term approaches, the New York Times analyzes the effect on the Supreme Court of working with eight justices, with analysis of cases decided and cases we’re still waiting on. The country is only five months away from a presidential election, and Laura Little of Constitution Daily details what effect the presidential election may have on the Court. When it comes to judicial appointments, she writes, “politics are baked into the cake!”

Finally, the tragedy of the Orlando massacre has many asking if the Supreme Court will weigh in on gun laws in America. The Huffington Post says, “don’t hold your breath.”

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