The Supreme Court has issued orders and opinions; a summary follows:
ORDER LIST: One new grant
Campbell-Eward Co. v. Gomez: (1) Whether a case becomes moot, and thus beyond the judicial power of Article III, when the plaintiff receives an offer of complete relief on his claim; (2) whether the answer to the first question is any different when the plaintiff has asserted a class claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, but receives an offer of complete relief before any class is certified; and (3) whether the doctrine of derivative sovereign immunity recognized in Yearsley v. W.A. Ross Construction Co., for government contractors is restricted to claims arising out of property damage caused by public works projects.
(1) Henderson v. United States: By a vote of 9-0 the judgment of the Eleventh Circuit is vacated and the case remanded. Per Justice Kagan's opinion for a unanimous Court: "Government agencies sometimes come into possession of firearms lawfully owned by individuals facing serious criminal charges. If convicted, such a person cannot recover his guns because a federal statute, 18 U. S. C. §922(g), prohibits any felon from possessing firearms. In this case, we consider what §922(g) allows a court to do when a felon instead seeks the transfer of his guns to either a firearms dealer (for future sale on the open market) or some other third party. We hold that §922(g) does not bar such a transfer unless it would allow the felon to later control the guns, so that he could either use them or direct their use."
(2) Comptroller v. Wynne: By a vote of 5-4 the judgment of the Court of Appeals of Maryland is affirmed. Per Justice Alito's opinion for the Court: "This case involves the constitutionality of an unusual feature of Maryland’s personal income tax scheme. Like many other States, Maryland taxes the income its residents earn both within and outside the State, as well as the income that nonresidents earn from sources within Maryland. But unlike most other States, Maryland does not offer its residents a full credit against the income taxes that they pay to other States. The effect of this scheme is that some of the income earned by Maryland residents outside the State is taxed twice. Maryland’s scheme creates an incentive for taxpayers to opt for intrastate rather than interstate economic activity.We have long held that States cannot subject corporate income to tax schemes similar to Maryland’s, and we see no reason why income earned by individuals should be treated less favorably. Maryland admits that its law has the same economic effect as a state tariff, the quintessential evil targeted by the dormant Commerce Clause. We therefore affirm the decision of Maryland’s highest court and hold that this feature of the State’s tax scheme violates the Federal Constitution."
The Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, and Sotomayor joined Justice Alito's opinion. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Thomas as to Parts I and II. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Scalia except as to the first paragraph. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Scalia and Kagan.
(3) City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan: By a vote of 6-2 the grant of certiorari is dismissed in part, the judgment of the Ninth Circuit is reversed in part and the case is remanded. This case presented two questions: (1) Whether Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires law enforcement officers to provide accommodations to an armed, violent, and mentally ill suspect in the course of bringing the suspect into custody; and (2) whether it was clearly established that even where an exception to the warrant requirement applied, an entry into a residence could be unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment by reason of the anticipated resistance of an armed and violent suspect within. Per Justice Alito's opinion for the Court: "We granted certiorari to consider two questions relating to the manner in which San Francisco police officers arrested a woman who was suffering from a mental illness and had become violent. After reviewing the parties’ submissions, we dismiss the first question as improvidently granted. We decide the second question and hold that the officers are entitled to qualified immunity because they did not violate any clearly established Fourth Amendment rights."
The Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor joined Justice Alito's opinion. Justice Scalia filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, joined by Justice Kagan. Justice Breyer was recused.
(4) Tibble v. Edison Int'l: By a vote of 9-0 the judgment of the Ninth Circuit is vacated and the case remanded. Per Justice Breyer's opinion for a unanimous Court: "Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)..., a breach of fiduciary duty complaint is timely if filed no more than six years after 'the date of the last action which constituted a part of the breach or violation' or 'in the case of an omission the latest date on which the fiduciary could have cured the breach or violation.' 29 U. S. C. §1113. The question before us concerns application of this provision to the timeliness of a fiduciary duty complaint. It requires us to consider whether a fiduciary’s allegedly imprudent retention of an investment is an 'action' or 'omission' that triggers the running of the 6-year limitations period.... We believe the Ninth Circuit erred by applying a statutory bar to a claim of a 'breach or violation' of a fiduciary duty without considering the nature of the fiduciary duty. The Ninth Circuit did not recognize that under trust law a fiduciary is required to conduct a regular review of its investment with the nature and timing of the review contingent on the circumstances. Of course, after the Ninth Circuit considers trust-law principles, it is possible that it will conclude that respondents did indeed conduct the sort of review that a prudent fiduciary would have conducted absent a significant change in circumstances.... A plaintiff may allege that a fiduciary breached the duty of prudence by failing to properly monitor investments and remove imprudent ones. In such a case, so long as the alleged breach of the continuing duty occurred within six years of suit, the claim is timely. The Ninth Circuit erred by applying a 6-year statutory bar based solely on the initial selection of the three funds without considering the contours of the alleged breach of fiduciary duty."
(5) Coleman v. Tollefson: By a vote of 9-0 the judgment of the Sixth Circuit is affirmed. Per Justice Breyer's opinion for a unanimous Court: "Ordinarily, a federal litigant who is too poor to pay court fees may proceed in forma pauperis. This means that the litigant may commence a civil action without prepaying fees or paying certain expenses. See 28 U. S. C. §1915. But a special 'three strikes' provision prevents a court from affording in forma pauperis status where the litigant is a prisoner and he or she 'has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated . . . , brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.' §1915(g). Prior to this litigation, a Federal District Court had dismissed on those grounds three actions brought by a state prisoner. While the third dismissal was pending on appeal, the prisoner sought to bring several additional actions in the federal courts. The question before us is whether the prisoner may litigate his new actions in forma pauperis. Where an appeals court has not yet decided whether a prior dismissal is legally proper, should courts count, or should they ignore, that dismissal when calculating how many qualifying dismissals the litigant has suffered? We conclude that the courts must count the dismissal even though it remains pending on appeal. The litigant here has accumulated three prior dismissals on statutorily enumerated grounds. Consequently, a court may not afford him in forma pauperis status with respect to his additional civil actions."
(6) Harris v. Viegelahn: By a vote of 9-0 the judgment of the Fifth Circuit is reversed and the case remanded. Per Justice Ginsburg's opinion for a unanimous Court: "This case concerns the disposition of wages earned by a debtor after he petitions for bankruptcy. The treatment of postpetition wages generally depends on whether the debtor is proceeding under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code (in which the debtor retains assets, often his home, during bankruptcy subject to a court-approved plan for the payment of his debts) or Chapter 7 (in which the debtor’s assets are immediately liquidated and the proceeds distributed to creditors). In a Chapter 13 proceeding, postpetition wages are '[p]roperty of the estate,' 11 U. S. C. §1306(a), and may be collected by the Chapter 13 trustee for distribution to creditors, §1322(a)(1). In a Chapter 7 proceeding, those earnings are not estate property; instead, they belong to the debtor. See §541(a)(1). The Code permits the debtor to convert a Chapter 13 proceeding to one under Chapter 7 'at any time,' §1307(a); upon such conversion, the service of the Chapter 13 trustee terminates, §348(e). When a debtor initially filing under Chapter 13 exercises his right to convert to Chapter 7, who is entitled to postpetition wages still in the hands of the Chapter 13 trustee? Not the Chapter 7 estate when the conversion is in good faith, all agree. May the trustee distribute the accumulated wage payments to creditors as the Chapter 13 plan required, or must she remit them to the debtor? That is the question this case presents. We hold that, under the governing provisions of the Bankruptcy Code, a debtor who converts to Chapter 7 is entitled to return of any postpetition wages not yet distributed by the Chapter 13 trustee."