Rubin v Islamic Republic of Iran

Rubin sought reviewed the 7th Circuit decision holding 28 USC 1610(g) does not create an independent exception to sovereign immunity for attachment and execution purposes. Resolving a circuit split on the issue, the Court, with Kagan recused, affirmed. It held the phrase “as provided in this section” in 1610(g) is most naturally read in refer to 1610 as a whole, this make sense as 1610 identifies when immunity is lifted and language indicating a lifting of immunity is missing from 1610(g) and this reading gives meaning to all the terms of 1610. It held Rubin’s argeutmns to limit “as provided under this section” to 1610(f) is a strained reading particularly as Congress could have made that limitation clear and did not and there is no indication of drafting error. It finally held that 1610(g) specifically limits its terms to terrorism cases not immunity cases generally and serves the purpose of collecting in one place the categories of property subject to attachment and execution.

Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v Somers

Trust sought review of the 9th Circuit decision that Somers was entitled to whistleblower protection under Dodd-Frank despite not reporting the alleged violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Court, resolving a circuit split, with a six member majority, two justices concurring and 3 justices concurring in part and in judgment, reversed and remanded. The majority held that 15 USC 78-6 limits protection to those who report securities violations “to the [Securities and Exchange] Commission”, the plain meaning requires the complaint to be given to the Commission, other whistleblower requires in Dodd-Frank do not require complaints go to the Commission reinforcing the conclusion 78-6 requires reports to go to the Commission, this reading comports with the purpose of incentivizing whistleblowing, this reading gives the antiretaliation provision substantial meaning and shields those who give internal reports once they also notify Commission and avoids thorny issues of complaints utterly unrelated to securities violations triggering protection. Sotomayor, joined by Breyer, added a concurrence arguing conference and committee reports are valid sources in statutory interpretation. Thomas, joined by Alito and Gorsuch, concurred in part and judgment arguing that committee reports are not a valid source of meaning as the text of the statute is law not legislative history or statutory purpose.

Class v United States

Class sought review of the DC Circuit decision holding a guilty plea bars a constitutional challenge to the statute of conviction. The Court, 6-3, reversed and remanded. The majority held that under Court precedent and the understanding of guilty pleas in the 19th and early 20th centuries, pleading guilty does not bar constitutional challenges to the statute of conviction because an unconstitutional statute cannot form the basis of a criminal conviction; the Court precedent about guilty pleas relinquishing constitutional claims does not apply as the claim here is not rendered irrelevant as a claim of unreasonable search of grand jury misconduct would be as Class’ rights could not be vindicated through trial; the exception for constitutional attacks on the statute of conviction are excluded from the Rule of Criminal procedure 11(a)(2) process; and there was no explicit waiver of the right to raise the issue on Class’ plea bargain. Alito, joined by Kennedy and Thomas dissented arguing waiver of the constitutional challenge here was not barred by the Constitution, any federal statute or rule of procedure and waiver was not raised in the certiorari petition. He also argued that the exception to rule 11(a)(2) relied upon by the majority was based on opinions that were poorly reasoned and provide no intelligible rule to decide what constitutional challenges are allowed after a guilty plea and those which are not and the majority opinion creates confusion in the area rather than clarity.

Murphy v Smith et al.

Murphy appealed the 7th Circuit decision ordering 25% of his prisoner civil rights award go to his attorney’s fee award. The Court, 5-4, resolved a circuit split and affirmed. The majority held that under 42 USC 1997e(d)(2), district courts are required to act with the purpose of satisfying the awarded attorney fees for the judgment obtain by the prisoner up to the 25% cap, “portion” in 1997e(d)(2) does not allow the use of discretion and the history of 1997e(d)(2) shows it was meant to alter the normal civil rights attorney fee ward regime to require prisoner to bear the attorney fee award up to the 25% of the award cutoff and this approach is consistent with the precedent in normal civil rights attorney fee regime area. Sotomayor, joined by Ginsberg, Breyer and Kagan, dissented arguing that “to satisfy” in 1997e(d)(2) does not require full payment, prisoner civil rights cases almost always have attorney fee awards greater than the value of the judgment obtained, Congress rejected language that would do what the majority holds 1997e(d)(2) does, “portion” dos not have a set value and thus introduces discretion into the shame and red a whole the civil rights litigation statutes cabins the discretion but does not eliminate it.

CNH Industrial N.V. v Reese

CHN sought review of the 6th Circuit decision awarding lifetime benefits under a collective bargaining agreement which expired in 2004. The Court reversed per curium holding that the Court’s Tackett precedent bars the use of silence in collective bargaining agreements to award lifetime benefits and the 6th Circuit decision here to read silence as an ambiguity allowing lifetime benefits also violates the normal principles of contract law and the benefits in question expired with the underlying agreement in 2004.