Today’s Supreme Court order list.
(Note to Mods: The case summaries quoted below are made available under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US) license. Attribution is given to Scotusblog.)
The Supreme Court denied certiorari in a large number of Florida death penalty cases. That prompted three Justices to write lengthy statements, Breyer (neither concurring nor dissenting), Thomas (concurring) and Sotomayor (dissenting).
The death penalty debate has been quietly rising to a boil at the Supreme Court in recent years and I am not sure at all if Kavanaugh’s addition will necessarily result in significant victories for pro-death penalty backers.
PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic Inc.
Issue : Whether the Hobbs Act required the district court in this case to accept the Federal Communication Commission’s legal interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
This is the certiorari grant. It started over a fax offering a free copy of a Physician’s Desk Reference from the Petitioners to the Respondents. Respondents declined and instead sued under the “fax spam” statute. And this seemingly trivial affair may offer the Supreme Court the chance to abolish or at least severely limit Chevron deference. Amazing how the absolutely most unremarkable situations can lead to major legal consequences.
Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill
Issues : (1) Whether the district court conducted a proper “holistic” analysis of the majority-minority Virginia House of Delegates districts under the prior decision in this case, Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, even though it ignored a host of evidence, including the overwhelming majority of district lines, which were carried over unchanged from the prior map; the geographic location of population disparities, which imposed severe redistricting constraints and directly impacted which voters were moved into and out of the majority-minority districts; and the degree of constraint the House’s Voting Rights Act compliance goals imposed in implementation, which was minimal; (2) whether the Bethune-Hill “predominance” test is satisfied merely by a lengthy description of ordinary Voting Rights Act compliance measures; (3) whether the district court erred in relying on expert analysis it previously rejected as unreliable and irrelevant and expert analysis that lacked any objective or coherent methodology; (4) whether the district court committed clear error in ignoring the entirety of the house’s evidentiary presentation under the guise of credibility determinations unsupported by the record and predicated on expert testimony that should not have been credited or even admitted; (5) whether Virginia’s choice to draw 11 “safe” majority-minority districts of around or above 55 percent black voting-age population (“BVAP”) was narrowly tailored in light of the discretion the Voting Rights Act afforded covered jurisdictions to “choose to create a certain number of ‘safe’ districts, in which it is highly likely that minority voters will be able to elect the candidate of their choice,” under Georgia v. Ashcroft, or the requirement the Voting Rights Act, as amended, imposed on covered jurisdictions “to prove the absence of racially polarized voting” to justify BVAP reductions towards or below 50 percent BVAP; (6) whether the district court erred in ignoring the district-specific evidence before the house in 2011 justifying safe districts at or above 55 percent BVAP; and (7) whether appellants have standing to bring this appeal.
The Attorney General of Virginia refused to appeal this redistricting case, so the Virginia House of Delegates is doing so instead. This is an appeal of right, so the first question the Supreme Court must deal with is whether the Appellants have legal standing to bring this case, which question they have postponed to hearing the case on the merits.