Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Three Cases
The U.S. Supreme Court began its January sitting on January 11, 2020. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the justices will continue to hear oral arguments remotely for the foreseeable future. Below is a brief summary of the issues before the Court last week:
Pham v. Guzman Chavez: The case involves noncitizens who are subject to reinstated removal orders, which are issued when a noncitizen has illegally reentered the United States after having been removed. While these orders are generally are not open to challenge, the migrants may pursue withholding of removal if they have a reasonable fear of persecution or torture in the countries designated in their removal orders. The question issue before the Court is whether an alien placed in withholding-only proceedings is subject to the detention procedures set out in 8 U.S.C. 1231, or instead to the detention procedures set out in 8 U.S.C. 1226. Section 1231 authorizes the detention of an alien who “is ordered removed.” It provides that the government “shall” detain the alien during an initial 90-day “removal period,” and that the government “may” detain the alien beyond that initial period if the alien poses a “risk to the community” or is “unlikely to comply with the order of removal.” Meanwhile, Section 1226(a) authorizes the detention of an alien “pending a decision on whether the alien is to be removed from the United States.” In general, the statute expressly authorizes the government, in its discretion, to release the alien on “bond” or “conditional parole.” The specific issue the justices must decide is “[w]hether the detention of an alien who is subject to a reinstated removal order and who is pursuing withholding or deferral of removal is governed by 8 U.S.C. 1231, or instead by 8 U.S.C. 1226.”
Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski: While a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, Petitioner Chike Uzuegbunam began distributing religious literature on campus. College officials stopped him because he was outside the 0.0015% of campus where “free speech expression” was allowed. When Chike reserved a free speech space and again tried to evangelize, officials stopped him because someone complained which, under College policy, converted Chike’s speech to “disorderly conduct” Facing discipline if he continued, Chike filed suit. Another student, Petitioner Joseph Bradford, self-censored after hearing how officials mistreated Chike. The students raised constitutional claims against the college’s enforcement of the policies, seeking damages and prospective equitable relief to remedy the censorship and chill. After the college changed its speech policies post-filing, the lower courts held that Chike and Joseph did not adequately plead compensatory damages, and their nominal-damages claims were moot. The Supreme Court must now decide a question that has divided the circuit courts of appeal: “Whether a government’s post-filing change of an unconstitutional policy moots nominal-damages claims that vindicate the government’s past, completed violation of a plaintiffs constitutional right.”
AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission: The closely-watched case challenges the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) authority to compel monetary relief. The Federal Trade Commission Act generally “empower[s] and direct[s]” the FTC to prevent persons from using “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.” By its terms, § 13 (b) of the FTC Act authorizes the Commission to seek “preliminary injunction[s]” and, “in proper cases,” “permanent injunction[s].” The question before the Court is: “Whether §13(b) of the Act, by authorizing “injunction[s],’ also authorizes the Commission to demand monetary relief such as restitution – and if so, the scope of the limits or requirements for such relief.”
Decisions in the cases are expected before the Court’s term ends in June. Please check back for updates.
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- Establishment ClauseFree Exercise Clause
- Freedom of Speech
- Freedoms of Press
- Freedom of Assembly, and Petitition
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- Due Process
- Eminent Domain
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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.