The Supreme Court issued the argument calendar for its March sitting today. Over a six-day period from March 18 through March 27, the justices will hear oral argument in nine cases. Three of those cases are likely to be among the biggest cases of the term. On March 26, in Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, the justices will return to the topic of partisan gerrymandering – that is, the idea that state officials violate the Constitution when they draw district lines to favor one political party at another’s expense. The justices will hear challenges to federal congressional districts in North Carolina and Maryland, but they will also be considering whether courts should have a role in reviewing partisan gerrymandering claims at all. And on March 27, the justices will hear oral argument in Kisor v. Wilkie, a case in which they have been asked to overrule a legal doctrine known as Auer deference, which instructs courts to defer to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulation when the regulation is ambiguous. Although the issue may sound somewhat dry, the justices’ ruling could have enormous implications for the operations of federal agencies.
A full list of the cases scheduled for oral argument in March, along with a brief summary of the issues presented in each case, follows below the jump.
Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill (March 18): Racial gerrymandering challenge to Virginia state legislative districts
Smith v. Berryhill (March 18): Whether, if the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council determines that an appeal from an administrative decision by an individual seeking disability benefits is filed too late, that ruling is a “final decision” that courts can review
Cochise Consultancy v. United States ex rel. Hunt (March 19): Whether a private party who acts on behalf of the government can rely on an exception to the False Claims Act, for cases in which the fraud is not discovered right away, to file a lawsuit after the six-year statute of limitations has run in cases in which the government is not involved
Flowers v. Mississippi (March 20): Whether the Mississippi Supreme Court properly applied the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1986 decision in Batson v. Kentucky, holding that it is unconstitutional to strike potential jurors based on their race, to the case of a death-row inmate when the prosecutor was found to have violated Batson during the inmate’s first four trials; at his sixth trial, the prosecutor allowed the first African-American juror to be seated but then struck the remaining five African-American jurors
PDR Network v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic (March 25): Whether the Hobbs Act, a federal law that provides a mechanism for courts to review some agency orders, requires a federal district court to accept the Federal Communications Commission’s legal interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
Dutra Group v. Batterton (March 25): Whether punitive damages may be awarded to a Jones Act seaman in a personal-injury suit alleging a breach of the general maritime duty to provide a seaworthy vessel
Rucho v. Common Cause (March 26)
Lamone v. Benisek (March 26)
Kisor v. Wilkie (March 27)
This post was also published on SCOTUSblog.