U.S. Supreme Court’s Busy First Week of Oral Arguments
The U.S. Supreme Court will consider six cases in its first week of oral arguments. Several of the cases are among the Court’s most anticipated, touching on issues such as partisan gerrymandering, digital privacy rights, immigration, and mandatory arbitration.
Below is a brief preview:
Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis: The Court’s first case is one of the most significant employment cases of the term. The justices will consider the following issue: “Whether an agreement that requires an employer and an employee to resolve employment-related disputes through individual arbitration, and waive class and collective proceedings, is enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act, notwithstanding the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act.” In a strange twist, the Solicitor Generals Office reversed its position once President Donald Trump took office. The government has now taken the side of employers over the National Labor Review Board, arguing that such arbitration agreements are enforceable.
Sessions v. Dimaya: The term’s first immigration case involves the removal of noncitizens that are convicted of “aggravated felonies.” The Immigration and Nationality Act broadly defines “aggravated felonies.” It also incorporates 18 U.S.C. §16(b), a so-called “residual clause” that defines a “crime of violence” to encompass “any … offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.” The specific question before the Court is “whether 18 U.S.C. 16(b), as incorporated into the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions governing an alien’s removal from the United States, is unconstitutionally vague.”
Gill v. Whitford: In arguably the Court’s most closely-watched case, the justices will address the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. The issues before the Court include: “(1) Whether the district court violated Vieth v. Jubelirer when it held that it had the authority to entertain a statewide challenge to Wisconsin’s redistricting plan, instead of requiring a district-by-district analysis; (2) whether the district court violated Vieth when it held that Wisconsin’s redistricting plan was an impermissible partisan gerrymander, even though it was undisputed that the plan complies with traditional redistricting principles; (3) whether the district court violated Vieth by adopting a watered-down version of the partisan-gerrymandering test employed by the plurality in Davis v. Bandemer; (4) whether the defendants are entitled, at a minimum, to present additional evidence showing that they would have prevailed under the district court’s test, which the court announced only after the record had closed; and (5) whether partisan-gerrymandering claims are justiciable.”
Jennings v. Rodriguez: In yet another immigration case, the justices will address whether subjecting immigrants in deportation proceedings to long-term detention without individualized bond hearings violates the U.S. Constitution. The specific questions before the Court are: “(1) Whether aliens seeking admission to the United States who are subject to mandatory detention under 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b) must be afforded bond hearings, with the possibility of release into the United States, if detention lasts six months; (2) whether criminal or terrorist aliens who are subject to mandatory detention under Section 1226(c) must be afforded bond hearings, with the possibility of release, if detention lasts six months; and (3) whether, in bond hearings for aliens detained for six months under Sections 1225(b), 1226(c), or 1226(a), the alien is entitled to release unless the government demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community, whether the length of the alien’s detention must be weighed in favor of release, and whether new bond hearings must be afforded automatically every six months.”
District of Columbia v. Wesby: The case, which sprung from a wild Washington D.C. party, addresses two important criminal law issues. The first is when the Fourth Amendment probable cause standard allows police officers to assess a suspect’s credibility when he claims an innocent mental state; the second is the circumstances under which officers are entitled to qualified immunity. The specific issues the justices have agreed to consider are: “(1) Whether police officers who found late-night partiers inside a vacant home belonging to someone else had probable cause to arrest the partiers for trespassing under the Fourth Amendment, and in particular whether, when the owner of a vacant home informs police that he has not authorized entry, an officer assessing probable cause to arrest those inside for trespassing may discredit the suspects’ questionable claims of an innocent mental state; and (2) whether, even if there was no probable cause to arrest the apparent trespassers, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because the law was not clearly established in this regard.”
Class v. United States: In Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U.S. 21 (1974), and Menna v. New York, 423 U.S. 61 (1975), the Supreme Court held that a defendant who pleads guilty can still raise on appeal any constitutional claim that does not depend on challenging his “factual guilt.” Since those decisions, the federal circuit courts of appeal have deeply divided on whether a defendant’s challenge to the constitutionality of his statute of conviction survives a plea, or instead is inherently waived as part of the concession of factual guilt. Accordingly, the question before the Court is “whether a guilty plea inherently waives a defendant’s right to challenge the constitutionality of his statute of conviction?
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Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.