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Sketches From SCOTUS December Sitting

The big case for December, NY State Rifle & Pistol v. City of New York, could fizzle for mootness. New York City restricted the transportation of firearms to within the city limits but that regulation has since been rescinded, and, as several justices pointed out during the argument, the petitioner has got what they asked for.

There were, of course, other important cases argued this month but since I have fallen so far behind in my blog postings I will simply post the sketches and let the viewer search for the details. I know, I’m lazy.

Last Two Arguments Of The Term

On Wednesday the Justices heard arguments in the last two scheduled cases of the term. Between now and the end of June they will take the bench only to announce opinions, and possibly for the ceremonial investiture of Justice Gorsuch.

The first argument, Sandoz v. Amgen, an exceedingly complex case on a provision of the Affordable Care Act that covers biosimilar drugs.

The second argument, Maslenjak v. U.S., raised concerns, especially for Chief Justice Roberts, about prosecutorial overreach. The case involves a naturalized citizen who lied on her application and was therefore stripped of her citizenship.

“Some time ago,” Roberts asked the government’s lawyer, “outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles per hour in a 55-miles-per-hour zone. I was not arrested.” “Now you say that if I answered that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all.”

 

An Antitrust Trial

It’s not getting much attention but there’s a pretty important antitrust trial underway in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. The Justice Department is seeking to block the merger, actually more of a takeover, between the insurance companies Anthem and Cigna. Each side, of course, argues opposite results for the health care consumer.

Anthem’s CEO, Joseph R. Swedish testified on the first two days of trial which began last Monday and is expected to end before the new year. Another antitrust lawsuit, this time between Aetna and Humana, begins December 5.

A news story about the trial can be found here.

 

Monday’s Undecisions

The big news of course on Monday was the Supreme Court’s per curiam opinion in Zubik v. Burwell (and other consolidated cases) that decided nothing but encouraged the two sides to reach a compromise.

The other case left hanging is Spokeo v. Robins. In a 6-2 opinion the Court asked the Ninth Circuit to take another look at the “concreteness” of the harm to Thomas Robins when Spokeo.com posted inaccurate information about him.

Little Sisters And The Supremes

I wish there were a photo directory of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. I could have have used it yesterday when the Supreme Court heard arguments in Zubik (as in Bishop Zubik) v. Burwell, the case challenging ACA contraception coverage. In the courtroom before the Justices came to the bench I sketched who I thought was Cardinal Wuerl, but later in the pressroom googling his image I realized I had the wrong bishop. I had instead limned the likeness of Bishop Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania.

At least I recognized the Little Sisters of the Poor as they gathered in the Court’s cafeteria.

Below are my sketches from the argument.  You can read Lyle’s analysis here.