This morning the Supreme Court issued orders from last week’s private conference. The justices did not add any new cases to their docket for this term.
The justices did not act on one of the most closely watched petitions for review that they considered last week, involving a challenge to the constitutionality of an Indiana law that requires a pregnant woman to have an ultrasound at least 18 hours before obtaining an abortion. The justices will consider that case, Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, again at their conference on Friday, October 18.
The justices denied review in several cases that they had relisted for additional consideration at last week’s conference, including a pair of petitions asking them to decide whether an inmate seeking post-conviction relief for the second time can prevail when it is not clear whether the district court’s original judgment rested on a statute that has been deemed unconstitutional – such as the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act. The justices also denied the federal government’s petition for review in a dispute over lawyers’ fees in a case filed by a Stanford University graduate student who was inadvertently placed on the Transportation Security Administration’s “no fly” list. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled the district court was wrong to find that the federal government had not acted in bad faith, and now that ruling will stand. Justice Samuel Alito indicated that he would have granted the petition, while Justice Elena Kagan was recused from the case.
The justices called for the federal government’s views in Peterson v. Linear Controls, a case filed by a black crew member who worked on an oil rig owned by Linear Controls in the Gulf of Mexico. The crew member, David Peterson, alleged that black employees were assigned to work outside in July without access to water, while white employees worked inside, in air conditioning. A federal district court ruled that Peterson’s race discrimination claim could not go forward, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld that ruling. Because Peterson had not been fired, denied vacation or a promotion, or paid differently from white workers, the court of appeals concluded, Linear Controls did not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law banning employment discrimination on which Peterson was relying. There is no deadline for the federal government to file its brief.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.