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A Few Notable Denials on the Court's First Official Day

By William Peacock, Esq. on October 07, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Though the Court granted certiorari in eight cases last week, the first official day of business is today, and the court rung in the new term with a lengthy 94-page orders list, most of which were denials.

Though the court's jurisdiction is discretionary, there are always a few surprises on the denials sheet, as well as a few that we wish they would've taken up. Here are some of those rejected petitions:

SCOTUS Week at FindLaw


Cuccinelli's Sodomy Battle

Few, except Virginia Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Cuccinelli will lament this rejection, which was an appeal of the Fourth Circuit's striking of Virginia's "Crimes Against Nature" law. The statute, which nearly matched the now-repudiated Georgia statute from Bowers v. Hardwick word-for-word, was facially overbroad, yet Cuccinelli argued that it was constitutional as applied (to child predators and other sex offenders) and should have stood.

Nonetheless, the law is now unenforceable. The easy solution, of course, is simply to pass a law with more narrow language that criminalizes child predation, instead of broad language that could apply to consensual conduct between adults.

Execution of Warren Lee Hill

This one, for those who have been following the case, is a heartbreaker. Hill, who has been diagnosed as "mentally retarded" by all experts who have examined him, had his death sentence upheld on procedural grounds by the Eleventh Circuit, despite the execution being unconstitutional per Atkins v. Virginia.

Now, all that stands between him and death is a challenge to Georgia's lethal injection procedures.

Florida Tobacco Litigation

It's been bad times for Big Tobacco. Last month, the Eleventh Circuit upheld the use of res judicata in individualized trials between smokers and Big Tobacco on the issues of duty of care, manufacture of defective cigarettes, and concealed information about harm.

The novel cases emerged from a mid-90s class action. The jury made the above findings, but the Florida Supreme Court decertified the class, requiring individual plaintiffs to argue over legal causation, comparative fault, and damages.

Today, the Supreme Court, in one of the resulting individual suits, denied certiorari to review one of the cases where res judicata was applied and led to a $2.5 million verdict.

Argentina's Defaulted Debt

Though this case is far too complicated to go into detail here, (the Los Angeles Times has a full run-down), Argentina defaulted on nearly $100 billion in debt in 2001, restructured most of it, and now owes Wall Street venture (or "vulture") funds $1.4 billion, which it refuses to pay in full because the debt was bought for pennies on the dollar on the secondary market, and out of fear that payment in full will lead to other creditors reasserting their right to full payment.

The Second Circuit ordered full payment, but stayed any action until the present petition (which was filed before that decision) was handled by SCOTUS. An appeal of the post-petition Second Circuit opinion is expected, meaning no one is getting paid any time soon.

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