Supreme Court Heard Oral Arguments in Four Cases
The U.S. Supreme Court has returned from its winter break. The justices heard oral arguments in four cases, all of which called on the Court to interpret federal laws, including the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the Mineral Leasing Act, the Federal Immigration, and the Nationality Act and the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
Below is a brief summary of the issues before the Court:
United States Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association: In a decision that will impact thefuture of the plannedAtlantic Coast Pipeline, the Supreme Court must decide whether theU.S.Forest Service had the authorityto issue akey permit that would let the natural-gas line cross under the Appalachian Trail.The Fourth Circuit held that holding that national forest lands underlying the Appalachian Trail are in the National Park System and thus ineligible for the grant of a right-of-way for a pipeline under the Mineral Leasing Act.Under theMineral Leasing Act, the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service) has authority to grant certain rights-of-way through lands in the National Forest System. However, no federal agency has authority under that statute to grant equivalent rights-of-way through lands in the National Park System. The question before the Court is “[w]hether the United States Forest Service has the authority to grant rights-of-way under the Mineral Leasing Act through lands traversed by the Appalachian Trail within national forests.”
Opati v. Republic of Sudan: The closely-watched international law case involves whether punitive damages are available under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The specific question before the justices is “[w]hether, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision inRepublic of Austria v. Altmann, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act applies retroactively, thereby permitting recovery of punitive damages under 28 U.S.C. § 1605A(c) against foreign states for terrorist activities occurring prior to the passage of the current version of the statute.”
United States v. Sineneng-Smith: The Supreme Court’s latest immigration case centers on what constitutes encouraging or inducing illegal immigration for financial gain in violation of federal immigration law. The issue the justices must decide is “[w]hether the federal criminal prohibition against encouraging or inducing illegal immigration for commercial advantage or private financial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (B)(i), is facially unconstitutional.”
Lomax v. Ortiz-Marquez: The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) prohibits prisoners from filing or appealing a federal civil action in forma pauperis (without paying the associated fees) if they have filed three or more cases or appeals that were dismissed because the lawsuits were frivolous or malicious or did properly state a legal claim for relief.The specific question before the justices is “whether a dismissal without prejudice for failure to state a claim counts as a strike under28 U.S.C. 1915(g).”
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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.