This afternoon the Supreme Court issued orders from the justices’ private conference earlier in the day. The justices had considered a wide variety of hot-button issues – ranging from challenges to two states’ “faithless elector” laws to a clash between California and the federal government over enforcement of federal immigration laws and a challenge to the government’s expansion of the “conscience exemption” to the Affordable Care Act’s birth-control mandate – that would have further increased the profile of an already packed term, but instead the justices granted only three new petitions for review, in important but lower-profile cases.
In Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the court granted a petition filed by the state of Arkansas and will decide whether federal employee-benefits laws preempt state regulation of rates at which prescription-drug middlemen reimburse pharmacies. In April, the justices had called for the views of the U.S. solicitor general, who recommended last month that review be granted.
In Salinas v. U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, the justices will determine whether, under federal laws governing benefits for railroad workers, the Railroad Retirement Board’s denial of a request to reopen an earlier benefits determination is a “final decision” subject to judicial review. Although the federal government prevailed in the lower court and believes that the lower court’s decision was correct, the government agreed that review should be granted.
Finally, the justices granted a petition filed by the federal government: Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, a lawsuit involving a challenge to the constitutionality of a federal law that bars calls to cellphones using auto-dial systems or an artificial or prerecorded voice.
Today’s grants are likely to be scheduled for oral argument in the court’s April argument session. The court will release more orders from today’s conference on Monday at 9:30 a.m.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.