On June 3, the U.S. Supreme Court released opinions in four cases. While no doubt impactful and important to the litigants, or another in their shoes, these were not big cases with landmark ruling potential. The justices were mainly in agreement, deciding mostly unanimously, with the exception of Mont v. U.S., which decided “whether a convicted criminal’s period of supervised release is tolled—in effect, paused—during his pretrial detention for a new criminal offense.”
There are now 27 cases left for the court to issue rulings on before it can break for summer vacation. Then the justices can earn sweet paydays for teaching in luxurious spots, one of the few ways they may earn extra income. We are still waiting for rulings in cases that may determine the future of public displays featuring religious symbols, as well as what questions may be asked on the U.S. Census and a potentially major change in double-jeopardy law. Here is the rundown of these new cases:
Azar v. Allina Health Services
Because the Department of Health and Human Services neglected its statutory notice-and-comment obligations when it revealed a new policy that dramatically — and retroactively — reduced Medicare payments to hospitals serving low-income patients, its policy must be vacated. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for the court, while Justice Stephen Breyer dissented alone. The disagreements in the opinions chiefly concern statutory construction and over text and structure. Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not rule on this case.
Taggart v. Lorenzen
A creditor may be held in civil contempt for violating a bankruptcy court’s discharge order if there is no fair ground of doubt as to whether the order barred the creditor’s conduct. Justice Breyer wrote the opinion for a unanimous Supreme Court. The “fair ground of doubt” language comes from an 1885 Supreme Court case called California Artificial Stone Paving Co. v. Molitor. In that case, and here in Taggart, people are protected from contempt citations if their conduct arguably was permitted given the court orders under which they are working.
Fort Bend County v. Davis
If you want to sue for impermissible discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you first have to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Davis sued on multiple claims and did not file an EEOC claim covering them all. Is her suit barred? No. As Jess Bravin says in The Wall Street Journal, the court “refused to limit workers’ ability to claim discrimination, ruling that employers can’t get such lawsuits thrown out years later by asserting the employee should first have brought charges through federal or state regulators.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for a unanimous court.
Mont v. United States
Sadly, Jason Mont seems gripped by drugs and has a long history of using and selling them, with both state and federal charges for his trouble. After serving seven years in federal prison, Mont was sentenced to a further five years of supervised release. During that time, he was arrested again on state charges, in June of 2016, which violated the conditions of his supervised release. His term of supervised release was scheduled to end on March 6, 2017, but the hearing to address the violation didn’t take place until March 21, 2017. The federal district court then revoked Mont’s supervised release and ordered him to serve an additional 42 months’ imprisonment to run consecutive to his state sentence.
Mr. Mont argues that he completed his supervised release, and the government says that the time he spent locked up on state charges should not go toward the five years of supervised release. The Supreme Court sided with the government. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority in this 5-4 case. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Ginsburg, and Kavanaugh. Justices Elena Kagan and Gorsuch joined Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent. She wrote that the court’s majority:
“…reaches that result by adopting a backwardlooking approach at odds with the statute’s language and by reading the terms ‘imprisoned’ and ‘in connection with’ in unnatural isolation. Because I cannot agree that a person ‘is imprisoned in connection with a conviction’ before any conviction has occurred, I respectfully dissent.”
There are only four more court calendar days set for opinions to be released this term. LibertyNation.com will be here for the flood of decisions to come.
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