A Farewell to SCOTUS 2015 Term Arguments

Supreme Court April 25

Congratulations! You’ve made it through seven sessions of U.S. Supreme Court arguments.

And because you’ve been following along on this blog, you know everything you need to know about this term’s oral arguments. Except, of course, for what happened this week. So let’s get you caught up.

The week began with a bit of déjà vu, with the justices hearing argument in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., No. 15-375.

The justices first heard this copyright dispute back in 2013, when the court clarified the first-sale doctrine.

Now it’s back, but this time the court has been asked to clarify the standard for awarding attorneys’ fees in copyright cases.

Bloomberg BNA IP reporter Anandashankar Mazumdar said the justices were looking for the best way to incentivize parties that have good cases to keep pressing their claims. But that cuts both ways, Anandashankar said.

Read why here (subscription required).

Staying in the world of IP, the justices next heard Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, No. 15-446.

This one asks if the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s use of the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard when it reconsiders patents is consistent with the America Invests Act.

Bloomberg BNA IP reporter Tony Dutra says the PTAB’s standard is likely to survive, “if it can get past Chief Justice Roberts's late monkey wrench”—namely, that district courts use a different standard.

Read more about the argument here (subscription required).

On to day two, where the justices heard Mathis v. United States, No. 15-6092.

This one deals, yet again, with the pesky Armed Career Criminal Act. In Mathis, the justices considered “how to interpret state laws to determine whether defendants qualify for longer sentences under the” act, Bloomberg BNA criminal law reporter Jessica De Silva says.

She says the “court's ultimate decision will impact what prosecutors and judges must prove when using certain documents in seeking sentencing enhancements.”

Read her take on the argument here.

Next, the court heard Dietz v. Bouldin, No. 15-458. This one asks what happens “when a jury is dismissed and then immediately re-empaneled after returning a legally impossible verdict,” U.S. Law Week’s Nick Datlowe says.

“The justices expressed concern with the inefficiencies that would be created by a bright-line rule requiring a new trial,” Nick says. But they “also seemed leery of a rule that would require a hazy inquiry into whether jurors had been prejudiced post-discharge.”

Read more from Nick here.

Finally, the court said farewell to oral arguments with McDonnell v. United States, No. 15-474, over the validity of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s 2014 corruption conviction.

It seems like the court is going to overturn this one, as they expressed concern that the statute prohibits too much conduct and gives prosecutors too much power over elected officials.

Read my take here.

Well… that’s it for this term’s oral arguments.

I know, we’re all sad. But don’t fret! There’s only 22 weeks until the 2016 term’s oral arguments kick off!

Until then, follow along with all the latest Supreme Court news with a free trial to United States Law Week.