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.)
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard Samsung Electronics v. Apple, in which Apple accused Samsung of infringing on its design patents covering the iPhone’s look and shape. The lower court ordered Samsung to pay damages reflecting all of their profits on the infringing smartphones, not just the profits stemming from the design. Samsung’s attorney, Kathleen M. Sullivan, told the justices that customers buy smartphones because of their thousands of technological advances, not just the screen’s appearance. Chief Justice Roberts expressed skepticism. Since the design patents cover the “exterior case of the phone,” why should the award reflect profits “based on the entire price of the phone,” he asked. Other justices said they were uncertain of what to do about the total profit rule. “If I were a juror, I wouldn’t know what to do,” confessed Justice Kennedy. At the Washington Post, Robert Barnes predicted that the Court would reduce the damage award. Additional coverage of oral arguments can be found at the New York Times and CNBC.
Also on Tuesday the justices heard Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, an appeal from a Colorado man who claims juror racial bias violated his right to a fair trial. A jury unanimously convicted Miguel Pena-Rodriguez of inappropriately touching teenage girls at a Denver-area horse race track. Two jurors said that a fellow juror believed Pena-Rodriguez was guilty because he is “Mexican, and Mexican men take whatever they want.” Colorado has a no-impeachment rule: a rule that prohibits jurors from testifying about “any matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury’s deliberations.” Pena-Rodriguez argues that this rule violates his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury in light of the serious claims of racial bias. During oral arguments, Justice Breyer explained that an exception to the no-impeachment rule in such cases may be needed to “create a judicial system that is seen as fair.” But some justices worried that such a ruling could lead to widespread claims of bias. Justice Alito asked lawyer Jeffrey Fisher, representing Pena-Rodriguez, what would happen if an exception were made to the no-impeachment rule for racial bias but not for other improper actions by juries, such as a decision on a defendant’s political affiliation. Coverage of the case can be found at CNN and ABC.
In Manrique v. United States, the third case of the week, the court considered whether a notice of appeal from an initial judgment of conviction in a federal criminal case can also encompass a challenge to the district court’s subsequent restitution determination under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. Assistant Federal Defender Paul Rashkind argued on behalf of Marcelo Manrique that one notice of appeal suffices in criminal cases. On SCOTUSBlog, Steve Vladek reports Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed concern about cases in which a defendant was not notified of the need to file a second notice of appeal.
The justices also took on some new cases this week. On Tuesday the Court said it will consider a lawsuit against former attorney general John Ashcroft and other officials filed by immigrants who say they were racially profiled and illegally detained after the September 11, 2001, attacks. Justices Sotomayor and Kagan have recused themselves from the case. The case was filed on behalf of hundreds of noncitizens, most of them Muslim, who, although never charged with terrorism, were held in harsh conditions in Brooklyn. Besides Ashcroft, they are attempting to sue former FBI director Robert Mueller and former Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner James W. Ziglar. Ziglar v. Turkman will be probably be heard early next year. The Court also granted certiorari in Hernandez v. Mesa, which involves a Mexican 15-year-old who was shot by American border agents while he was in Mexico and the agents were in the United States. His family is trying to sue the border agents.
At the second Presidential debate last Sunday, the Supreme Court was one of the topics of conversation. Hillary Clinton said, “I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose and I want a Supreme Court that will stick with marriage equality.” She criticized her opponent Donald Trump for supporting justices who would reverse both. “I think that would be a terrible mistake and would take us backwards.” Trump responded by saying he is “looking to appoint justices very much in the mold of Justice Scalia…people that will respect the Constitution of the United States.” ABC News has a video clip of the exchange.
At the final debate, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, the Supreme Court will be one of the selected topics for the night. The debate will be held at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.