Archive for the ‘Fantasy Supreme Court League’ Category

Gavel bones 2

So, Nazim screwed up, and scored Nelson for Manrique last time. Now that this has been fixed, we owe apologies all around, and our gratitude to listener Austin, who caught that something was wrong. However, that may have changed your position in a way that you might not recognize based on our last update. In any case, I’m crunching a lot of numbers here, so please let me know if you think I screwed up, but only if you’ll give me some idea of how to fix it. Again, thanks, Austin, you golden god, and victor of this term’s League! To make room for some runners-up, I highlighted the scores of the folks who got the most points from each ballot. You’re no slouches either. Especially Lauren, who pulled it off twice! Listener and host Brett got second place, which he thinks is worth something.

In Sessions v. Morales-Santana, we’re giving the outcome to the Appellee, despite the fact that he’s not going to get citizenship, because he made the successful equal protection argument that got the law overturned. I know, he’s screwed, but he technically won. And technical victories are the best victories, amIrite? Anyone? Crickets?

Hernández v. Mesa was decided per curiam, so nobody’s getting any points for the vote or the author of the majority opinion. Maybe we’ll make those options available for the next term. Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. is another one in which nobody gets any points at all. Overton v. US was consolidated with Turner v. US, so the results were similar, and Vito, oh, Vito, you fat, magnificent bastard, I could kiss you†: you predicted everything correctly for both, scoring ridiculous points there. Ashcroft v. Abbasi saw a 4-2 majority. I’m not really sure what the league takeaway for that is. I mean, next term we’ll just use the majority number to assign points, but I don’t think it’s worth giving all the majority options down to a one justice majority… Maybe I’ll lump per curiam and “smaller majority” together as one choice? What do you think?

Sessions v. Dimaya and Jennings v. Rodriguez will be decided next term, so they won’t be scored this term. Hopefully we’ll remember to add them back into the mix next term, and if I’m really motivated I’ll look up the predictions people made this term and throw them in the mix for those who don’t re-submit their predictions.

This seems like the right add some ado, when I say the word ado, I move the accent to the first syllable, because it makes me sound Japanese, I think. Without it, here are the final scores:

Final Rankings

†Offer void where prohibited or disinclined. I might mention that I’ve never met Vito in meatspace.

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So, there were a few updates: Manrique (which I just like saying) and that crazy Venezuela case and Tyrell (not the Bladerunner corporation) and the one where Miami sued banks for collapsing the economy… Yeah, those all came out. But a lot of people are falling behind just because they didn’t fill out their May ballots. Spring showers, I guess. Anyway, after all that ado, here are the updated rankings:

May Rankings

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WHAT HAPPENED – XBOXs were created with (at least one) mechanical fallacy that ended breaking the system without warning.  Plaintiffs (*cough* NERDS) filed a class action lawsuit in California against XBOX because of this defect.  The California Court hearing this issue denied the Plaintiff’s right to proceed with a class action lawsuit on grounds that the class and case was not suitable for class action status.  As is common in California, the plaintiff’s stipulated to a dismissal of their suit, appealed the denial of class certification and won.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  The State of California is the Chekov’s gun on this case brief, as the practice of dismissing a class action suit and appealing it subsequent to that dismissal is a procedure that is only done in California, as the Federal Rules require a different procedure in order to appeal this decision.  The issue here is whether or not the Supreme Court is down with that procedure or not.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS:  Allowing this procedure to pass would create two possible scenarios, one being specific to this case, and the other being more general.  First, saying that this procedure is OK would allow an unwritten, contrary rule to be written in the Rules of Federal Procedure.  Considering that the Supreme Court usually does that on their own, good money says that they are not OK with goddamn liberal Californians making their own rules.  More broadly speaking, this case could allow individual jurisdictions to make their own rules all the time, which also is probably not what the Supreme Court wants to do either.

ROOT FOR MICROSOFT IF: you want that extra class action money going toward more HALO sequels.

ROOT FOR BAKER IF:  the Rules of Civil Procedure were made to be broken.

PREDICTION:  Microsoft 9-0

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WHAT HAPPENED:  To help convey this generally procedural issue, let’s treat this like a professional wrestling event.

(Best Jim Ross Impersonation)

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!  IN THIS CORNER, PLAINTIFF LAROE!  A MAN WHO WANTS TO DEVELOP HIS PROPERTY AND IS BEING STYMED BY GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS!  WHAT AN UNDERDOG! THIS FANCIES TO BE A REAL SLOBBERKNOCKER!

AND IN THIS CORNER!  TOWN OF CHESTER!  A MUNICIPALITY THAT DOESN’T LIKE LAROE AND HAS PASSED ZONING REGULATIONS TO GET IN HIS WAY!  WHAT AN EVIL CHAMPION THAT LOOKS TO RETAIN ITS DOMINANCE OVER LAND USE!  THE CROWD REALLY HATES THEM!

THE MATCH HAS STARTED AND WE ARE READY TO……WHAT A MINUTE, WHATS THAT SOUND???  THAT’S LAROE ESTATE’S MUSIC!  WHAT ARE THEY DOING HERE?!?  LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE HAVE A THREE-WAY BATTLE!

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  In legal speak, Laroe Estates wants to intervene in a lawsuit between the landowner and the township, which procedurally means you want to get involved in a case that is ongoing because you have an interest at stake.  Laroe was denied intervention because the Court held that Laroe lacked “standing”, which is the requirement that you are harmed in the underlying litigation and that the litigation will be able to solve that harm.  This is a weird ruling, because standing is usually presumed if you can meet the other requirements of intervention.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS:  Although one could argue that this case could help shape the requirements for intervention going forward, it seems more likely that the Court is just going to remand this decision back to the Lower Court so that they can come up with a clearer way to deny intervention that doesn’t require the Court to address a weird loophole in the rules.  Ultimately, this is not that common of a problem, as most people who meet the elements of intervention inherently have standing, so although this seems like a big deal, my guess is the Court will just be asking the Lower Court to use the elements to deny intervention, if denial is that important.

ROOT FOR TOWN OF CHESTER IF:  WE NEED TO SETTLE THIS CASE IN A STEEL CAGE, BROTHER!!

ROOT FOR LAROE ESTATES IF:  AND HERE COMES THE STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT!  LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE HAVE A ROYAL RUMBLE!!

PREDICTION:  Laroe Estates 7-1

 

 

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WHAT HAPPENED:  Defendant, who is a legal immigrant, was charged with burglaries, which warranted mandatory removal under the Federal Immigration State as a “violent felony”.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  The defendant did not contest the underlying charges, but more whether or not the “violent felony” language, which includes any “felony that is likely to result in violence to persons or property”, was unconstitutionally vague.  Under the Due Process clause, criminal statutes can be invalidated if they do not give citizens fair notice of what is being punished, which came up two years ago in a case, Johnson v. U.S..  In Johnson, the Court held that the term “violent felony” was vague as it applied to the Armed Career Criminals Act, so the question here is whether the same applies to the Immigration Act.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS:  Should the Lower Court’s decision invalidating the Act hold, the procedure for removing violent felons would need to be re-written to either (a) articulate what a violent felony is more specifically, or (b) just make all felonies grounds for removal.  Since Congress doesn’t like MORE work on the table and panicking about dangerous immigrants is all the rage these days, my guess is that Supreme Court isn’t in a hurry to be on the front page of FOX NEWS for the next year.

ROOT FOR SESSIONS IF: You’re scared of violent immigrants.

ROOT FOR DIMAYA IF:  you are more interested in fostering conservative panic more that you are afraid of violent immigrants.

PREDICTION:  Sessions 6-3

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WHAT HAPPENED – Plaintiff was injured at work and sued the Defendant employer for damages under a Federal Workman’s Comp statute in the State of Montana.  Seems easy, right?

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT – The Employer argues that since the accident did not occur in Montana, and since the Employer is not based out of Montana, the case should have been filed elsewhere, which in legal speak is saying that the forum for the lawsuit does not have personal jurisdiction over the Employer.  Personal jurisdiction requires that any lawsuit against a party be filed in a State that is inherently “fair” for the defendant.  This commonly considers the defendant’s contacts with the State and the interests of the State in hearing the case.  This may all seem easy, but hold on to you butts because here comes the weird part.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS – A few years ago the Supreme Court heard a case determining whether a car manufacturer could be sued in California for participating in wide-spread Argentinian government-sponsored torture (Actually downplaying this, not exaggerating).  Within that case, Ginsburg and Sotomayor had a judge fight (exchanging doomsday scenarios based on the other’s reasoning), in which the Court made a rule saying that a corporation had to “be at home” to be sued somewhere.  The issue here is whether or not (a) this Corporation is “at home” in the forum, and (b) whether or not a Federal Statute could override this contentious rule, which again was loosely based on the plot of a James Bond movie.

ROOT FOR BNSF RAILWAY IF: Fairness to corporations is high on your priorities list.

ROOT FOR TYRELL IF: You’re still mad about Hobby Lobby and want to screw all corporations.

PREDICTION:  Tyrell 8-1

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WHAT HAPPENED: Defendant is this case is probably the least-lucky person on Earth.  Defendant is charged with a sex crime for being slightly over 18 years old and having sex with someone who is a three year age difference.  This is a crime in the State of California, but it is legal in a strong majority of States.    After being convicted, Defendant moves to Michigan, where Defendant’s conduct would not have been a State crime.  Unfortunately, removal proceedings are brought against him, and even though he would not have been subject to removal in California, the same rules do not apply in Michigan.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPRME COURT:  In an effort to make this generally unfair case more legal, Defendant is arguing that the immigration board’s ruling in favor of removal should be overturned, since Defendant’s crime should not subject him to removal as a “sex abuse” crime.  The State argues that even if this case is unfair, the immigration board’s ruling should stand since agencies are entitled to deference enforcing their own rules.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS:  One of the hot-button talking points of Trump’s new appointment is the possibility that the Court will overrule the Chevron doctrine, which is the above-referenced policy that agencies should be given deference for enforcing their own rules.  Presumably, this is the kind of case where you could make an argument that the unreasonableness of the doctrine is on display, since the different State rules and precedent have created a generally unfair proposition.  Unfortunately for this Defendant, the Conservative push for overruling agency authority is probably not going to come in a case involving immigration and sex crimes.

ROOT FOR ESQUIVEL-QUINTANA IF: you want to overrule Chevron, and don’t care about the underlying facts in what will likely be a landmark decision going forward.

ROOT FOR SESSIONS IF:  you want to overrule Chevron, but you’d rather wait until it’s an EPA decision that prevents a company owned by your right friend Doug from polluting a river.

PREDICTION:  SESSIONS 7-2

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A torrent of Immigration cases, which is to say two of them, made this month’s ballot. Topical, amiright? Also, updated the scores below, so click through if you want to see how you’re doing. But most importantly, please get your May votes in soon, since, as the term winds down, more opinions will be published, and we’re not in charge of that schedule. Probably for the best.

If the link in the paragraph above doesn’t work, copy and paste the url below to access the ballot:

https://goo.gl/forms/DBOK7Ulw320gTted2

And below are the current Rankings, updated with Nelson and Manrique from the April ballot. Austin, Arturo, and Alyssa are tightly bunched in the lead. I suspect Brett is going in to the spreadsheets to lower my score, but I don’t know enough about law to prove it. Also, apologies to Christi and SooMin, but their April ballots were submitted after Nelson and Manrique were published, so we can’t count their votes on those two cases, even though I’m pretty sure it was a mistake made in good faith. Also, I’m a bit disappointed that That Guy and White Chocolate have only submitted one ballot.

April Rankings

 

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WHAT HAPPENED: Tam is a member of THE SLANTS, an Asian-American rock band who sound like your friend’s band who you always get invited to see live but never want to see live because they are not very good.  Tam sought to trademark the band’s name, but was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (“the PTO”) for being an antiquated racial slur.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  The PTO has a policy in place that denies trademark protection for offensive words, which is the basis under which the PTO denied Tam’s request.  The issue in this case is not whether the term THE SLANTS is offensive, but more broadly whether or not the PTO can constitutionally ban trademark terms based on their subjective standard for obscenity.  The lower court ruled in favor of THE SLANTS and held that the PTO’s policy is void as a matter of law.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS – It may seem obnoxious to point out that this only benefits rock bands with offensive names, but it is worth noting that there are more offensive band names than you may realize.  I have a friend who works for a very popular death metal record label, and his email signature would promote bands like DYING FETUS and album names like SULFUR AND SEMEN, so if you’re a hairy, stocky white dude who claims to worship Satan, this case could be for your benefit.  More generally, this case speaks to what the First Amendment actually gives you from the government.  On one hand, this is a government agency who is censoring private speech,; but more specifically, the government is not imprisoning THE SLANTS, but just not granting them additional commercial protection, which is an important distinction.  Most likely, that will be what this case turns on.

ROOT FOR LEE IF:  you don’t need to curse in your albums to sell records.

ROOT FOR TAM IF: you do, so f*** Will Smith, and f*** you too.

PREDICTION:  Tam 5-3

 

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WHAT HAPPENED: Appellant was convicted of a criminal offense and filed an appeal.  Subsequent to that filing, the Court imposed $4,500.00 in fines.  Appellant did not amend their Notice of Appeal, but assumed that the original notice would have encapsulated all issues present in the case.  The government argues that the notice had to be amended to include the monetary penalties.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Stop me if you’ve heard this before in these case reviews.  A very strict application of the rules favors the government, but a very strict application of the rules would require you to bury your head in the sand and ignore the many ways that the rules are unfair and stupid.  Although the Appellant here did not follow the rules, it also does not hurt the government at all to allow the notice to include all applicable issues.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS – The worst part about the law is the way that Court rules set arbitrary deadlines and then strictly apply those deadlines independent of reason or mercy.  If Appellant wins, the system would make it easier for criminal defendants with either overwhelmed or bad lawyers on their side to appeal all aspects of their case, but that result is mostly likely going to make bad lawyers lazier.  Once again, the question here is whether it worth the Court’s time and energy to find a way to bend the rules, or if it is easier to let this defendant’s judgment stand to keep the rules clear and unassailable.

ROOT FOR MANRIQUE IF: you are a bad and/or overwhelmed lawyer.

ROOT FOR COLORADO IF: you are Government lawyer who likes having less work based on technicalities.

PREDICTION:  U.S. 8-0