Shortly before joining a telephone conference call for a historic live-streamed oral argument this morning, the Supreme Court issued orders from the justices’ private conference last week. The justices did not act on some of the high-profile petitions for review that they considered on Friday, including the federal government’s challenge to provisions of California’s “sanctuary state” laws that bar state and local law-enforcement officials from cooperating with federal immigration officials and a group of Second Amendment challenges to federal and state gun restrictions. However, the justices did grant two new cases for next term, including one in which they will weigh in on the retroactive effect of a recent ruling.
On April 20, the justices issued their decision in Ramos v. Louisiana, holding that the Sixth Amendment establishes a right to a unanimous jury that applies in both federal and state courts. Today the justices announced that they will take up an issue arising from that ruling – whether the decision applies retroactively to cases that have already become final on direct review and are now on federal collateral review. The justices granted a petition filed by Thedrick Edwards, who was sentenced to life in prison for several robberies and a rape that occurred over a three-day period in 2006. At his trial, Edwards told the justices, the state used its challenges to exclude all but one African American from the jury; at least one person voted to acquit Edwards, who is black, on each count. Edwards argues that he would not have been convicted if he had been prosecuted in one of 48 other states or by the federal government, rather than in Louisiana. The justices will now determine whether Edwards, whose conviction became final in 2010, and others like him can take advantage of the ruling in Ramos.
The justices also agreed to decide whether a federal law, the Anti-Injunction Act, that bars lawsuits to stop the assessment or collection of taxes also bans challenges to reporting and information-gathering mandates imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, when violations of those mandates carry tax penalties. The petition for review was filed by CIC Services, a risk management consulting firm based in Knoxville, Tennessee. After CIC challenged what it describes as “IRS guidance requiring it and its industry to comply with onerous reporting and information-gathering requirements,” a divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that, because violations of the reporting requirements carry a tax penalty, the Anti-Injunction Act bars CIC’s preenforcement challenge to the requirements. CIC asked the Supreme Court to review that ruling, which it agreed today to do.
The justices’ next conference is scheduled for Friday, May 15, with orders from that conference likely to follow on Monday, May 18.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.