Jesner v Arab Bank, PLC

Jesner sought review of the 2nd Circuit decision that the Alien tort Statute does not allow suits against foreign companies. The Court, 5 (three justice plurality joined in part by Alito and Gorsuch)-4, affirmed. The majority noted the statute was passed to allow a very narrow se of actions to be tried in federal courts and the Court has limited the scope of the Statute in the rare cases it has come before it. The plurality argued that international tribunals have not extended liability for human rights violations to corporations or other artificial entities and the authorities relied upon by Jesner do not support deviation from that course. Five justices held that extending jurisdiction to foreign companies would present significant separation of powers issues as Congress is the branch assigned the duty to decide if damage suits should be allowed. The plurality argued that analogous statutes such as the torture victims act and the comprehensive anti-terrorism act demonstrate Congress can chose to impose liability on companies and no such language is in Statute and further argued that extending liability to companies is essential to fulfilling the goals of the statute and could indeed imperil American corporations by allowing reciprocal suits. The majority also held that allowing suits against companies would undermine the statute’s purpose of promoting harmony in international relations noting this very case has strained relations between the United States and Jordan. The plurality finally reiterated its belief that Congress should make the delicate policy decisions in this area. Thomas added a concurrence stating the Courts’ opinion properly applied Court precedent and the he agreed with the points made by Alito and Gorsuch. Alito concurred in part and in judgment arguing that under the Court’s Sosa precedent, allowing suit here would promote diplomatic strife not decrease it and would illegitimately exercise legislative power. Gorsuch concurred in part and in judgment arguing that Statute does not create any causes of actions, federal courts are not allowed to do so or at least should not do so under Sosa and the original understanding of Statute does not allow suit against foreign defendants. Sotomayor, joined by Ginsberg, Breyer and Kagan, dissented arguing that international law does not bar the claims here, certain norms like prohibitions on genocide are binding on natural and legal persons, international tribunals have recently held corporations liable for human rights violations and no international tribunal has ever been granted civil jurisdiction so their practice is not determinative, a counterterrorism convention imposes liability on corporations, nothing in Statute’s text excludes corporations form the term “aliens’  or form liability which make sense given the centuries of precedent allowing corporations and other entities to be sued for damages, Congress has authorized the federal courts to enforce the evolving norms of international law, the majority approach will make the United States a safe harbor for violators of international norms, nothing about corporate form justify treating corporate defendants differently than natural persons, the problem of diplomatic strife can be handled using  other means such as the  rules of personal  jurisdiction including minimal contacts and the 2nd Circuit should get the case again to evaluate jurisdiction here, the executive branch has urged extending jurisdiction to foreign companies in the past which is entitled to significant weight, the anti-torture and antiterrorism statutes do not preclude jurisdiction here, allowing suits here could serve in the future to reduce diplomatic strife in some settings and concern about American corporation being sued abroad is unsupported empirically.

Dahda v United States

Dahda sought review of the 10th Circuit decision rejecting his motion to suppress intercepted phone calls arguing the intercept order was facially insufficient. The Court, 8-0 with Gorsuch rescued, affirmed. It held that the portion of the order which allowed intercepts outside the geographic jurisdiction of the issuing court was improper, but, the order as a whole was facially sufficient as it contained all statutorily required information and that was not affected if the improper provision was removed and further held there was no violation of substantial rights here as none of the conversations illegally seized were admitted at trial.

United States v Sanchez-Gomez

The government sought review of the 9th Circuit decision barring full shackling of defendants in a federal district court. The Court unanimously vacated and remanded. It held the case was moot at the 9th Circuit stage as all the criminal cases were resolved, no class action was field and there is no authority to apply class action type proceedings in these circumstances. It held that review under eh capable of repetition yet evading review doctrine was inapplicable here as Sanchez-Gomez can avoid shackling in pretrial detention by not violating the criminal code.

Byrd v United States

Byrd sought review of the denial of his motion to suppress arguing persons who drive rental cars without being listed on the rental agreement have an expectation of privacy. Resolving a circuit split the Court, with three justices adding concurrences, unanimously reversed and remanded. It held that those will lawful authority to drive the rental car have a property based right to exclude third parties like carjackers and thus have an expectation of privacy whether or not they are listed on the rental agreement, violations of a rental agreement have no bearing as to the 4TH Amendment rights of the driver, that the issue of whether Byrd was improperly in the car because he could not have rented the cart himself was not raised below and remand is necessary for factual development, held the 3rd Circuit can decide the case on remand on the basis of probable cause to search and reminded lower courts that having a cognizable 4th Amendment interest is not the same as article III standing. Thomas, joined by Gorsuch, concurred as the court applied the precedents faithfully and argued a property based argument would be problematic as it is unclear when property rights are sufficient to become effects under the 4th Amendment, what body of law answers that question and whether the unauthorized use of the car here is wrongful and if so whether that affects the constitutional analysis. Alito added concurrence arguing 3rd circuit is free to decide whether Byrd has a 4th Amendment interest here or decide the case on any other appropriate ground.

McCoy v Louisiana

McCoy sought review of the Louisiana Supreme Court decision affirming his death sentence arguing his 6th Amendment rights were violated when trial counsel admitted McCoy killed his family over McCoy’s objections. The court, resolving a split of authority at the state supreme court level, reversed and remanded. The majority held that the decision of whether to admit guilt belongs to the defendant as it is a decision out the goal of representation not a decision about the means to achieve that goal. It distinguished the Nixon precedent as the defendant there did not object to the strategy of admitting guilt as McCoy did here. It finally held the error here was structural as it deprived McCoy of his right to make fundamental choices about his defense and is immeasurable as the concession would almost certainly be swayed by the concession. Alito, joined by Thomas and Gorsuch, dissented arguing that the trial attorney here did not admit guilt but only an element and argued the facts only supported a lesser offense, that McCoy’s utterly incredible alibi defense would have destroyed his credibility with the jury, the majority rule could have been avoided by merely ignoring the element of killing in opening statement, the new right here will be rarely invoked as it will only be done in capital cases, few defendants will risk a death sentence by not admitting guilt in light of overwhelming evidence, the problem arose here because McCoy changed his mind on the eve of trial after being OK with the strategy of admitting killing the victims for eight months, appointed counsel can be substituted  and only proactive rejection of guilt admission will trigger the right, in any event confession of guilt strategy does not happen that often and the complex questions raised by the stratagy should be left to other cases and structural error analysis should be left the Louisiana Supreme Court on remand on the issue was not before the Court.

Murphy v National Collegiate Athletic Association

New Jersey sought review of t3h 3rd circuit decision that the ban on state permitted sports gambling in 28 USC 3702(1) is constitutional. The Court, 7-2 in part and 6-3 in part, reversed. Seven justices held that ‘authorize” in 3702(1) includes repeal of existing prohibitions as the repeal authorizes persons in the jurisdiction to do something that was barred beforehand and thus the partial repeal of New Jersey’s ban on sports betting  was a prohibited action under 3702(1). The same majority held that the constitution does not grant the federal government power to issue direct orders to states as that is not an enumerated power anywhere in the document and such assertions of power are contrary to the principles of federalism and this anticommandeering principle serves the interests of accountability and placing theh costs of federal policy on federal taxpayers. It held 3702(1) violates anticommandeering doctrine because it dictates what a state can and cannot do. It held 3702(1) is not saved by preemption doctrine as that doctrine only applies whet the federal and state laws at issue apply to private actors. It held that the same reasoning meant the ban on licensing in 3702(1) is also unconstitutional. Six justices held that 3702(1) was not severable as Congress would not have adopted the remainder of the sports gambling statute without the bans in place particularity as it would undermine the policy of each state as to sports gambling and ban lawful speech. Thomas added a concurrence arguing that the court’s severability precedents are in need of revisiting as they appear in tension with limits on judicial power as they do not follow normal rues of statutory interpretation and result in near advisory opinions as no standing needs to be shown by challengers. Breyer concurred in part and dissented in part arguing that 3702’s ban on state authorized sports gambling can be enforced without 3702(1) as it is consistent with congressional intent to stop the spread of sports gambling. Ginsberg, joined by Sotomayor in full and Breyer as to severability, dissented arguing that there is no commandeering here as 3702 merely bans sates from violating federal prohibitions on sports gambling and 3702(2) should remain in effect as Congress would want the law with as much probation as possible.