Monday status conference: Preemption, Gitmo and O.J. – oh my!

Welcome back! While DC Dicta was away and Congress was on vacation, the U.S. Supreme Court was hard at work, and that work will continue this week.

Last week…

Just when you thought the issue of just how much discretion judges have under the Federal Arbitration Act was complicated enough, it got a little more tangled. (SCOTUSBlog).

The justices pondered whether ERISA gives individuals the right to sue if their 401(k) accounts are not managed the way they want. (Lawyers USA, sub. req’d).  The Court also heard arguments on whether certain administrative expenses are deductible from federal taxes, whether one state can build a natural gas facility on the border of another, and whether a state can make rules banning delivery of tobacco products to minors, or if such laws are preempted under the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act. (PDF file transcripts on the Court’s website here, here, and here).

This week…

Today the Court will hear oral argument in Sprint/United Management Co. v. Mendelsohn, where the court will consider whether “me too” evidence – non-party testimony of discrimination – must be admitted when such testimony involves persons who played no role in the discriminatory actions alleged by the plaintiff.

Tomorrow, the justices will hear arguments in Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., a case that will determine whether state tort claims involving FDA-approved medical devices are preempted by federal law. The Court will also hear arguments in Snyder v. Louisiana, a case about whether race played a role in the impaneling of an all-white jury in a Louisiana murder case where a black defendant was convicted and sentenced to death. Details in this extremely fact-oriented case include comments made to the media by the prosecutor referring to the matter as “my O.J. Simpson case,” and the use of peremptory strikes by the prosecution to strike all non-white jurors, over the objection of the defense, resulting in an all-white jury. The jury ultimately found the defendant guilty and imposed the death penalty.

Wednesday the Court will hear the closely-watched case which will determine the constitutional rights afforded Guantanamo detainees. (Roundup from SCOTUSWiki).

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