The Supreme Court released the calendar for the January sitting, which begins on January 13, 2020. The justices will hear eight hours of oral argument over five days; they will not sit on Monday, January 20, which is a federal holiday. On two of the five days – January 15 and 22 – the justices will hear only one case.
The highlights of the sitting include the January 14 oral argument in Kelly v. United States, in which the justices will weigh in on the federal convictions that resulted from “Bridgegate” – the September 2013 change in the traffic patterns on the George Washington Bridge that created gridlock in nearby Fort Lee, New Jersey. Prosecutors say that officials working for then-Governor Chris Christie and the Port Authority made the change to punish the city’s mayor for not endorsing Christie’s reelection bid. The question before the justices is whether a public official defrauds the government of its property when she provides a “public policy reason” for an official decision that is not her actual reason for making the decision.
And on January 22, the justices will hear oral argument in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, a dispute over a Montana law that created tax credits to provide scholarships for families who send their children to private schools, including religious schools. The Montana Supreme Court struck the law down, ruling that it violated the state’s constitution because it helped religious institutions. Three low-income mothers who used the scholarships to send their children to a Christian school in Kalispell, Montana, went to the Supreme Court, arguing that excluding religious schools from the scholarship program violates the federal Constitution.
Here is the full list of cases to be argued in January, along with a short summary of the issues in each:
Lucky Brand Dungarees v. Marcel Fashion Group (Jan. 13): Whether, when a plaintiff asserts new claims, federal preclusion principles can bar a defendant from raising defenses that were not actually litigated and resolved in any prior case between the parties.
Thole v. U.S. Bank (Jan. 13): Whether a participant in a pension plan can bring a lawsuit against the managers of the fund when the participant has not yet suffered any individual financial injury.
Kelly v. United States (Jan. 14)
Romag Fasteners v. Fossil Inc. (Jan. 14): Whether a showing of willfulness is required to recover a trademark infringer’s profits.
Babb v. Wilkie (Jan. 15): Whether federal employees alleging age discrimination must show that the adverse employment decision would not have occurred were it not for their age.
Shular v. United States (Jan. 21): Whether the determination of a “serious drug offense” under the Armed Career Criminal Act requires the same categorical approach used in the determination of a “violent felony” under the act.
GE Energy Power Conversion France v. Outokumpu Stainless USA (Jan. 21): Whether, under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, someone who was not a signatory to an arbitration agreement can nonetheless compel arbitration based on the doctrine of equitable estoppel.
Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (Jan. 22)
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.