Topic Area Menu:
Following are case highlights for the topic areas of Abortion, Admiralty, Antitrust, Arbitration, and Attorney Fees. To access other case highlights for the 2005-2006 Term or previous terms, or to return to the main Case Highlights page, use the Topic Area menu to the right.

ABORTION



ABORTION
Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, et al.
Docket No. 04-1144
Vacated: The First Circuit

Argued: November 30, 2005
Decided: January 18, 2006
For Case Analysis: See ABA Preview 108

If enforcing a statute that regulates access to abortion would be unconstitutional in medical emergencies, must the entire statute be invalidated?

No. If enforcing a statute that regulates access to abortion would be unconstitutional in medical emergencies, invalidating the statute entirely is not always necessary or justified, for lower courts may be able to render narrower declaratory and injunctive relief.

From the opinion by Justice O'Connor (for a unanimous Court):

After finding an application or portion of a statute unconstitutional, we must next ask: Would the legislature have preferred what is left of its statute to no statute at all? … In this case, the courts below chose the most blunt remedy—permanently enjoining the enforcement of New Hampshire's parental notification law and thereby invalidating it entirely. That is understandable, for we, too, have previously invalidated an abortion statute in its entirety because of the same constitutional flaw. In [ Stenberg v. Carhart (2000)] we … held Nebraska's law unconstitutional because it lacked a health exception. … But the parties in Stenberg did not ask for, and we did not contemplate, relief more finely drawn. In the case that is before us, however, we agree with New Hampshire that the lower courts need not have invalidated the law wholesale. Respondents, too, recognize the possibility of a modest remedy: They pleaded for any relief "just and proper."

Back to Top

ABORTION
Scheidler et al. v. National Organization for Women Inc. et al. and
Operation Rescue v. National Organization for Women, Inc. et al.
Docket Nos. 04-1244 and 04-1352
Reversed and Remanded: The Seventh Circuit

Argued: November 30, 2005
Decided: February 28, 2006
For Case Analysis: See ABA Preview 115

Does the Hobbs Act bar violence and threats of violence unrelated to robbery or extortion?

No. Physical violence unrelated to robbery or extortion, including violence and various other unlawful activities by pro-life petitioners at health care clinics that perform abortions, falls outside the scope of the Hobbs Act.

From the opinion by Justice Breyer (for a unanimous Court):

A section of Title 18 of the United States Code (called the Hobbs Act) says that an individual commits a federal crime if he or she "obstructs, delays, or affects commerce" by (1) "robbery," (2) "extortion," or (3) "commit[ting] or threaten[ing] physical violence to any person or property in furtherance of a plan or purpose to do anything in violation of this section."… The question, as we have said, concerns the meaning of the phrase that modifies the term "physical violence," namely, the words "in furtherance of a plan or purpose to do anything in violation of this section." Do those words refer to violence (1) that furthers a plan or purpose to "affec[t] commerce . . . by robbery or extortion," or to violence (2) that furthers a plan or purpose simply to "affec[t]commerce"? We believe the former, more restrictive, reading of the text—the reading that ties the violence to robbery or extortion—is correct.

Taking no part in the consideration or decision of the cases: Justice Alito

Back to Top

ADMIRALTY



ADMIRALTY
Northern Insurance Company of New York v. Chatham County, Georgia
Docket No. 04-1618
Reversed: The Eleventh Circuit

Argued: March 1, 2006
Decided: April 25, 2006
For Case Analysis: See ABA Preview 232

Can an entity that does not qualify as an "arm of the State" for Eleventh Amendment purposes assert sovereign immunity as a defense to an admiralty suit?

No. Because Chatham County failed to demonstrate that it was acting as an arm of the State when it operated the malfunctioning county drawbridge that was involved in a collision with a boat insured by Northern, the County is not entitled to immunity from Northern's admiralty suit.

From the opinion by Justice Thomas (for a unanimous Court):

A consequence of this Court's recognition of pre-ratification sovereignty as the source of immunity from suit is that only States and arms of the State possess immunity from suits authorized by federal law. … Accordingly, this Court has repeatedly refused to extend sovereign immunity to counties. … This is true even when, as respondent alleges here, "such entities exercise a 'slice of state power.'"

Back to Top

ANTITRUST



ANTITRUST
Illinois Tool Works Inc., et al v. Independent Ink, Inc.
Docket No. 04-1329
Vacated and Remanded: The Federal Circuit

Argued: November 29, 2005
Decided: March 1, 2006
For Case Analysis: See ABA Preview 124

In a case in which the plaintiff alleges that the defendant engaged in unlawful "tying" of two products, must the plaintiff prove that the defendant has market power in the "tying" (or desired) product?

Yes. The Court held that because a patent does not necessarily confer market power upon the patentee, in all cases involving a tying arrangement, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant has market power in the tying product.

From the opinion by Justice Stevens (for a unanimous Court):

The question presented to us today is whether the presumption of market power in a patented product should survive as a matter of antitrust law despite its demise in patent law. We conclude that the mere fact that a tying product is patented does not support such a presumption.

Taking no part in the consideration or decision of the case: Justice Alito

Back to Top

ANTITRUST
Texaco Inc. v. Dagher et al. and Shell Oil Co. v. Dagher et al.
Docket Nos. 04-805 and 04-814
Reversed: The Ninth Circuit

Argued: January 10, 2006
Decided: February 28, 2006
For Case Analysis: See ABA Preview 182

Is it per se illegal under Section One of the Sherman Act for a lawful, economically integrated joint venture to set the prices at which the joint venture sells its products?

No. The pricing decisions of a legitimate joint venture do not fall within the narrow category of activity that is per se unlawful under Section One of the Sherman Act.

From the opinion by Justice Thomas (for a unanimous Court):

Per se liability is reserved for only those agreements that are "so plainly anticompetitive that no elaborate study of the industry is needed to establish their illegality."… Price-fixing agreements between two or more competitors, otherwise known as horizontal price-fixing agreements, fall into the category of arrangements that are per se unlawful. … These cases do not present such an agreement, however, because Texaco and Shell Oil did not compete with one another in the relevant market—namely, the sale of gasoline to service stations in the western United States—but instead participated in that market jointly through their investments in Equilon [the joint venture]. In other words, the pricing policy challenged here amounts to little more than price setting by a single entity—albeit within the context of a joint venture—and not a pricing agreement between competing entities with respect to their competing products.

Taking no part in the consideration or decision of the cases: Justice Alito

Back to Top

ANTITRUST
Volvo Trucks North America, Inc. v. Reeder-Simco GMC, Inc.
Docket No. 04-905
Reversed: The Eighth Circuit

Argued: October 31, 2005
Decided: January 10, 2006
For Case Analysis: See ABA Preview 70

May a manufacturer offering its dealers different wholesale prices be held liable for price discrimination proscribed by the Robinson-Patman Act absent a showing that the manufacturer discriminated between dealers contemporaneously competing to resell to the same retail customer?

No. A manufacturer may not be held liable for secondary-line price discrimination under these circumstances.

From the opinion by Justice Ginsburg (joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, and Breyer):

While state law designed to protect franchisees may provide, and in this case has provided, a remedy for the dealer exposed to conduct of the kind Reeder alleged, the Robinson-Patman Act, we hold, does not reach the case Reeder presents. The Act centrally addresses price discrimination in cases involving competition between different purchasers for resale of the purchased product. Competition of that character ordinarily is not involved when a product subject to special order is sold through a customer-specific competitive bidding process.

Dissenting: Justice Stevens (joined by Justice Thomas)

Back to Top

ARBITRATION



ARBITRATION
Buckeye Check Cashing, Inc. v. Cardegna et al.
Docket No. 04-1264
Reversed and remanded: Florida Supreme Court

Argued: November 29, 2005
Decided: February 21, 2006
For Case Analysis: See ABA Preview 120

Should a challenge to the validity of a contract that includes a mandatory arbitration clause be heard by a court rather than by an arbitrator?

No. Regardless of whether it is brought in federal or state court, a challenge to the validity of a contract as a whole, and not specifically to the arbitration clause within it, must go to the arbitrator, not the court.

From the opinion by Justice Scalia (joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer):

[ Prima Paint Corp. v. Flood & Conklin Mfg. Co. (1967) and Southland Corp. v. Keating (1984)] answer the question presented here by establishing three propositions. First, as a matter of substantive federal arbitration law, an arbitration provision is severable from the remainder of the contract. Second, unless the challenge is to the arbitration clause itself, the issue of the contract's validity is considered by the arbitrator in the first instance. Third, this arbitration law applies in state as well as federal courts. The parties have not requested, and we do not undertake, reconsideration of those holdings. Applying them to this case, we conclude that because respondents challenge the Agreement, but not specifically its arbitration provisions, those provisions are enforceable apart from the remainder of the contract. The challenge should therefore be considered by an arbitrator, not a court.

Dissenting: Justice Thomas
Taking no part in the decision or consideration of the case: Justice Alito

Back to Top

ATTORNEY FEES



ATTORNEY FEES
Martin et ux v. Franklin Capital Corp.
Docket No. 04-1140
Affirmed: The Tenth Circuit

Argued: November 8, 2005
Decided: December 7, 2005
For Case Analysis: See ABA Preview 78

When a federal court remands a removed case back to a state court, should attorney's fees be awarded if the removing party had an objectively reasonable basis for removal?

No. If the removing party had an objectively reasonable basis for removing the case from state court to federal court, courts may not award attorneys fees if the case is subsequently remanded.

From the opinion by Chief Justice Roberts (for a unanimous Court):

[28 U.S.C. § 1447(c)] authorizes courts to award costs and fees, but only when such an award is just. The question remains how to define that standard. … [T]he standard for awarding fees should turn on the reasonableness of the removal. Absent unusual circumstances, courts may award attorney's fees under §1447(c) only where the removing party lacked an objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal. Conversely, when an objectively reasonable basis exists, fees should be denied. … In applying this rule, district courts retain discretion to consider whether unusual circumstances warrant a departure from the rule in a given case.

Supreme Court Preview Home | Briefs | Cases at a Glance | Case Highlights
Cases of Interest to the School Community | Featured Cases | Subscribe to Preview
Related Program Events | Search | Links

Advertisement