Zubik v Burwell

Zubik, and several other plaintiffs in other circuits, sued Burwell seeking a declaration that the Affordable Health Care Act’s mandate to cover contraception violated the Religious Freedom restoration Act. The 3rd Circuit rejected Zubik’s challenge. After oral argument, the court asked for additional briefing on the possible solution of having contraception covered outside the plans of the objecting employers without any required notice of objection from the employers to the government and coverage being offered by the employers’ insurance companies through a separate policy and eligible employees being contacted directly be the insurance company. The parties agreed that approach would work and satisfy the objections of the employers. The Court, with two justices concurring, vacated the judgments rejecting the employers’ challenges and remanded for additional proceedings to consider the newly refined arguments of the parties. It noted it was not ruling on the merits of the challenges and further that the government can rely on the notice provided by the litigation itself to arrange for coverage under the Act. Ginsberg, joined by Sotomayor, added a concurrence arguing the Court’s opinion does not signal the plaintiffs should win or that their position should be adopted.

Meryl Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v Manning

Manning sued Meryl Lynch alleging violations of New Jersey state short sales and other laws. Meryl Lynch removed the case to federal court arguing 15 USC 78aa vested excusive jurisdiction in federal court. The 3rd Circuit ultimately remanded to state court holding 78aa’s scope is identical to the federal federal question statute. The Court, with two justices concurring in judgment, resolved a circuit split on the scope of 78 and affirmed. The majority held that the language “brought to enforce” in 78aa means the same as “arising under” in the general federal question statute because the core of the grant of jurisdiction is the enforcement of a federal right , the same phrase in other statutes has been held to mean the same thing as “arising under”, 78aa has been understood to mean the same thing as arising under in an earlier case, this construction resects state courts and serves the goal of easily administered rules by keeping jurisdictional tests the same across statutes and areas of law. Thomas, joined by Sotomayor, concurred in judgment arguing 78aa should be construed to apply to all suits which require adjudication of an issue which necessarily depends on a breach of federal securities law including regulations as 78aa and the general federal question statute have different language, the cases relied upon by the majority do not require equivalence and following the text of 78aa both respects state courts and is more administrable than the convoluted arising under standard.

Husky International Electronics, Inc. v Ritz

Husky field an adversarial proceeding in bankruptcy seeking to prevent discharge of certain debts it argued fraudulent transfers under 523(a)(2)(A) as actual fraud. The 5th Circuit rejected Husky’s claim holding misrepresentation to a creditor is needed under 523(a)(2)(A) to be actual fraud. Resolving a circuit split on whether fraudulent transfers were actual fraud, the Court, 7-1, reversed. The majority held that because “actual fraud” was added to (a)(2)(A), it presumably does not require a misrepresentation as misrepresentations were already covered and this presumption was confirmed by the century’s long treatment of fraudulent transfers as actual fraud under English bankruptcy law. It rejected Ritz’s arguments holding overlap between (a)(2)(A) and other remedies did not change the outcome as those other provisions were either limited to certain debtors or had a time a limit shorter then (a)(2(A). Thomas dissented arguing that fraudulent transfers do not result in debt being obtained by the debtor at the inception of the creditor-debtor relationship and thus (a)(2)(A) cannot provide relief for creditors like Husky who do not provide credit but merely have their ability to collect hindered. He also argued the majority substituted its policy views instead of giving effect to congressional intent.

Spokeo, Inc. v Robins

Robins sued Spokeo alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The district court dismissed for lack of standing, but, the 9th Circuit reversed. The Court, 6-2, reversed. The majority held that the 9th circuit failed to perform a complete analysis of the injury in fact component of standing because it failed to analyze the complaint for a concrete injury. It held that Robins must demonstrate not only that a violation of a procedural requirement of the Act occurred but must also prove that a degree of risk of harm exits. The case was remanded for analysis of the concreteness issue. Thomas added a concurrence arguing suits to protect private rights are judiciable while private suits to vindicate public rights are not. Here, there may be standing if Robins has a substantive right to have his personal information protected, but, would have no standing if all that is involved is a procedural protection or other duty owed to the public at large. Ginsberg, joined by Sotomayor dissented arguing the allegations that the information displayed on Spokeo’s website could interfere with Robin’s job search were concrete enough to satisfy the standing requirement.

Sheriff v Gillie

Gillie sued Sheriff, a private attorney hired by the Ohio attorney general to collect debts owed to Ohio, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Act by using state attorney general letterhead instead of his firm letterhead. The district court granted summary judgment to Sheriff, but, the 6th Circuit reversed. The Court reversed. Laying aside the issue of whether Sheriff was a state official for purposes of the Act, the Court held that the use of state attorney general letterhead was neither false nor misleading as it accurately conveyed sheriff’s agency relationship with the attorney general, did not use a false name as Sherriff signed letters in his own name and allowing the practice used here respects Ohio’s right to enforce its civil code.

Kernan v Hinojosa

Hinojosa sought habeas relief arguing denial of good time credit for being designated a gang member violated ex post facto protection. The 9th Circuit ultimately granted relief. The court, 6-2, summarily reversed holding the California Supreme Court disposition, not the trial court opinion dismissing for improper venue, controlled and was on the merits of the claim as venue could only be with the Supreme court and thus the disposition could not be on the same ground and there was no indication the state petition was dismissed without prejudice. Sotomayor, joined by Ginsberg, dissented arguing eh California Supreme Court proceeding was a review of the trial court and the lack of the words “without prejudice” does not indicate there was a decision on the merits.