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Cert Petitions Denied, Granted in 10th Circuit Cases

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on April 11, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Supreme Court released its order list Monday, and two notable cases originating in the Tenth Circuit were on it.

One case deals with a procedural issue, and seeks clarification on the pleading requirements for seeking removal to federal court. In the other case, the Court was asked to weigh in on whether New Mexico's public accommodations statute violated the First Amendment's prohibition on compelling speech.

Here's a breakdown of the two cases:

Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Company, LLC v. Owens

Dart Cherokee tried to remove its case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, and there was disagreement among the circuits regarding the pleading requirements for doing so.

The question presented is, "Whether a defendant seeking removal to federal court is required to include evidence supporting federal jurisdiction in the notice of removal, or is alleging the required 'short and plain statement of the grounds for removal' enough?"

The case is set for the October 2014 term, so we won't know until late this year or 2015.

Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock

In Elane Photography, a New Mexico commercial photography business offering its services to the public refused to photograph a commitment ceremony between two women. The asserted reason: It would violate the company's, and the owners', religious beliefs, along with their First Amendment rights of Free Speech.

The Supreme Court of New Mexico ruled that Elane Photography violated New Mexico's Human Rights Act by refusing to photograph the commitment ceremony. It also held that the business was not compelled to speak in violation of the First Amendment, and found their state Religious Freedom Restoration Act claims inapplicable because the state was not a party.

Elane Photography petitioned for writ of certiorari on the compelled speech issue, and the Supreme Court denied the petition on Monday. We're sure this will not be the last time that parties will petition to have the Court hear a case like this, as more and more states enact legislation essentially giving businesses the right to discriminate based on the owners' religious objections, reports SCOTUSblog.

The way the Court decides Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood, and Autocam -- the trio of contraception cases argued in March -- may be informative. A lot will depend on whether a business can exercise religion or not. We should know by June.

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