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Roundup: Supreme Court Opinions, Orders, and Oral Arguments

By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 20, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The busy bees over on First Street have been working extra hard this week, issuing orders in two cases, hearing oral arguments in six cases, and releasing four opinions today.

The four Supreme Court opinions released today are:

  • Roberts v. Sea-Land Services. In an 8-1 opinion authored by Justice Sotomayor, the Nine affirmed a Ninth Circuit decision that an employee is "newly awarded compensation" when he first becomes disabled and thereby becomes statutorily entitled to benefits, no matter whether, or when, a compensation order issues on his behalf.
  • Mayo v. Prometheus Laboratories. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Breyer, the Court reversed the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that a patent on a Prometheus diagnostic process was invalid because the "patent claims at issue here effectively claim the underlying laws of nature themselves."
  • Martinez v. Ryan. In a 7-2 decision written by Justice Kennedy, the Court decided that when ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims must be raised in an initial-review collateral proceeding under state law, a procedural default will not bar a federal habeas court from hearing those claims if, in the initial-review collateral proceeding, there was no counsel or counsel in that proceeding was ineffective.
  • Coleman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland. In a 5-4 decision by Justice Kennedy, the Court ruled that states cannot be sued for money damages for Family Medical Leave Act violations, reports Reuters.

The Court also granted certiorari in two cases yesterday, Ryan v. Gonzales and Tibbales v. Carter, both dealing with the rights of capital defendants. One of the denials, however, was far more interesting than either of the grants; the Court denied Louisiana's motion to file a bill of complaint with the High Court to challenge the inclusion of undocumented immigrants in census totals. The state may still bring the complaint in a district court, and work its way through the federal court system.

While media focus on the Court has shifted from the usual caseload to next week's Affordable Care Act arguments, the Court is hearing arguments in non-healthcare cases this week. Tuesday, the Court heard Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs. On Wednesday, the Nine will hear arguments in Vasquez v. U.S. and Reichle v. Howards.

If all this information isn't enough to satisfy your SCOTUS cravings for the week, you're in luck. SCOTUSblog is predicting that more Supreme Court opinions will be released on Wednesday.

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