Bench Memos

Today’s Rulings

[Going into today, the Supreme Court still has decisions to render in eleven cases. It would be quite a surprise if the Court were to issue all eleven decisions today; a range from three to six is far more likely. Relying on SCOTUSblog and How Appealing, I’ll post here the early word on today’s decisions. I’ll update this post until all the decisions have been announced. Once I am able to review the actual opinions, I may do separate posts on particular cases.]

Five rulings today:

Here’s one of the much-awaited rulings: Fisher v. UT Austin (racial preferences in undergraduate admissions): Kennedy opinion. Fifth Circuit failed to provide exacting standard of scrutiny; case is remanded to it. 7-1 (Kagan recused). Only Ginsburg in dissent. (7-1 vote suggests that Court may have avoided deciding much; may be largely a punt.) From quick skim of syllabus only, it appears that Court rules only that Fifth Circuit failed to properly apply existing precedent. Court takes existing precedent as “given” for purposes of this case. So it appears that the Court is punting for now on whether it would revisit Grutter. Ginsburg reads her solo dissent.

Vance v. Ball State University (supervisor liability under Title VII for sexual harassment): 5-4 ideological divide on who qualifies as a supervisor; opinion by Alito; Ginsburg dissent

UT Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar (proof for retaliation claim): 5-4 ideological divide on causation test. Kennedy opinion. Ginsburg reads her dissent (and apparently also addresses Vance).

Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Bartlett (federal preemption of design-defect claims against generic drugs): Claims are preempted. Alito opinion; 5-4

U.S. v. Kibodeaux (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act): Congress has power to require registration. Breyer opinion for five-justice majority; concurrence in the judgment by Chief and Alito; dissents by Scalia and Thomas.

The Court has set another announcement session for tomorrow (Tuesday). Six cases remain. My guess is that the Court will issue two or three tomorrow; probably not the marriage rulings.


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