Kokesh v Securities and Exchange Commission

Kokesh sought review of the 10th Circuit decision that the 5-year statute of limitations in 28 USC 2462 does not apply to disgorgement orders. Resolving a circuit split, the Court reversed. It held that disgorgement orders are “penalties” for 2462 purposes as they aim to vindicate public rights and serve to punish wrongdoers and some orders are not even compensatory with sums going to the government instead of the victims. It rejected the government’s argument that the orders are remedial noting orders can go beyond illegal profits and thus serve general deterrence interests.Honeycutt v United States

Honeycutt sought review of the 6th Circuit decision holding conspirators can be jointly and severally liable for proceeds of a drug conspiracy for forfeiture purposes. Resolving a circuit split, the Court (with Gorsuch not participating) reversed. It held that the text and structure of 18 USC 853 limit forfeiture to property tainted by the drug crime which the defendant personally possess or uses and joint and several liability is inconsistent with those limitations; this construction is consistent with the Court’s construction of other provisions in 853 including what property is transferred to the government by operation of law and what property is off limits to a defendant to pay attorney fees; and is consistent with the provisions on substitute property which limits the government to property of the defendant who dissipated tainted property. It held that Honeycutt never obtained any tainted property here as he never had an ownership interest in the sale proceeds and thus the decision below must be reversed.

Town of Chester, New York v Laroe Estates, Inc.

Town sought review of the 2nd Circuit decision that interveners do not need to prove standing. The Court, resolving a split of authority, reversed. It held that under Article III and the Court’s precedent, an intervener as of right must demonstrate it has standing when it seeks relief not requested by the plaintiff in the case. It remanded for the 2nd Circuit to determine if Laroe sought different relief from the plaintiff in this case.

Advocate Heath Care Network v Stapleton

Advocate and two other church affiliated operators of hospitals sought review of decisions from the 3rd, 7th and 9th Circuits that retirement plans for such operators must have been established by a church in order to be exempt from ERISA. The Court, with Sotomayor adding a concurrence and Gorsuch not participating, reversed. It held that the operative text is best read to only require that a plan be maintained by an affiliated organization to be exempt as Congress chose to not require establishment of the plan as part of the definition, this reading is consistent the cannon against surplusage, the cannon about criteria modification does not lead to a different result and establishing and maintaining are related concepts and whether Congress was motivated by a desire to create similar treatment for all groups associated with church activities or merely wanted to level the playing field for nonhierarchical churches either purposes is best served by rejecting a church establishment requirement. Sotomayor concurred expressing concern that thousands of workers may be denied ERISA protections and noting church affiliated hospitals are big, successful entities that Congress would likely have not excluded if they existed in 1980 when the text here was adopted.

North Carolina v Covington

North Carolina appealed the district court order requiring special elections and truncated legislative terms in a racial gerrymandering case. The Court reversed and remanded per curium holding the district court balanced the equities in a cursory manner which does not satisfy Court precedent on weighing the equites.