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Supreme Court Case Quick Updates

Current Term Quick Updates: 2023 Term (Oct. 2023 - Sept. 2024)

Pulsifer v. United States (6-3, Opinion by Justice Kagan on March 15, 2024.  Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion in which Justices Sotomayor and Jackson joined.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court held that a criminal defendant facing a mandatory minimum sentence is only eligible for relief under  18 U.S.C. § 3553(f)(1) only if the defendant satisfies each of the provision’s three conditions.

Decision is available here: 22-340 Pulsifer v. United States (03/15/2024) (supremecourt.gov)

McElrath v. Georgia (9-0, Opinion by Justice Jackson on Feb.21, 2024.  Justice Alito filed a concurring opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Georgia Supreme Court. The Court held that a jury’s finding of not guilty by reason of insanity constitutes an acquittal for purposes of double jeopardy, notwithstanding inconsistencies with the jury’s other verdicts on the same case.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/23pdf/22-721_kjfl.pdf

Annual Review of the Supreme Court's Criminal Cases 

Summaries of all Opinions (including Concurrences and Dissents), in argued and non-argument cases and Orders; certiorari grants for the upcoming Term; a chart of “Who Wrote What;” and a brief Overview of the Term, regarding all Criminal Law and related cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (with clickable links to the cases).

Prepared by: Professor Rory K. Little, UC Hastings College of the Law 

Quick Updates: 2021 Term (Oct. 2021 - Sept. 2022)

Biden v. Texas (5-4 Opinion by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan and Kavanaugh on June 30, 2022.  Justice Kavanaugh filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Thomas and Gorsuch joined. Justice Barrett filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch joined as to all but the first sentence.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.    The Court held that the government’s rescission of Migrant Protection Protocols did not violate Section 1225 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the then-Secretary of Homeland Security’s Oct. 29 memoranda constituted valid final agency action.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21-954_7l48.pdf

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Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta (5-4 Opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, and Barrett on June 29, 2022.  Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma.  The Court held that the Federal Government and the State have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by non-Indians against Indians in Indian country.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21-429_8o6a.pdf

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Ruan v United States (9-0 Opinion by Justice Breyer, and joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on June 27, 2022.  Justice Alito wrote a concurring opinion, in which Justice Tomas joined and in which Justice Barrett joined as to Parts I-A, I-B, and II.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.    The Court held that 21 U.S.C. Section 841’s “knowingly or intentionally” mens rea applies to the statute’s “except as authorized” clause. Once a defendant meets the burden of producing evidence that his or her conduct was “authorized,” the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly or intentionally acted in an unauthorized manner.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-1410_1an2.pdf

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Concepcion v United States (5-4 Opinion by Justice Sotomayor and joined by Justices Thomas, Breyer, Kagan and Gorsuch on June 27, 2022.  Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito and Barrett, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the First Circuit Court of Appeals.    The Court held that the First Step Act allows district courts to consider intervening changes of law or fact in exercising their discretion to reduce a sentence.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-1650_3dq3.pdf

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Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization (6-3 Opinion by Justice Alito, and joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett on June 24, 2022.  Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh filed concurring opinion.  Chief Justice Roberts filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.  Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court held that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion rests with the states.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/19-1392_6j37.pdf

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Nance v. Ward (5-4 Opinion by Justice Kagan, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kavanaugh on June 23, 2022.  Justice Barrett filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.    The Court held that Section 1983 remains an appropriate vehicle for a prisoner’s method-of-execution claim where, as here, the prisoner proposes an alternative method not authorized by the State’s death-penalty statute.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21-439_bp7c.pdf

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New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v Bruen (6-3 Opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett on June 23, 2022.  Justice Alito filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Kavanaugh filed a concurring opinion joined by Chief Justice Roberts.  Justice Barrett filed a concurring opinion.   Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.    The Court held that New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-843_7j80.pdf

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Vega v. Tekoh (6-3 Opinion by Justice Alito, and joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett on June 23, 2022.  Justice Kagan, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.    The Court held that a violation of the Miranda rules does not provide a basis for a §1983 claim because although Section 1983 provides a cause of action against any person acting under color of state law who “subjects” a person “to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws,” a violation of Miranda does not constitute a violation of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21-499_gfbh.pdf

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Shoop v. Twyford, (5-4 Opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh and Barrett on June 21, 2022.  Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, filed a dissenting opinion.  Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion.

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that a transportation order that allows a prisoner to search for new evidence is not “necessary or appropriate in aid of” a federal court’s adjudication of a habeas corpus action under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act when the prisoner has not shown that the desired evidence would be admissible in connection with a particular claim for relief.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21-511_o75p.pdf

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United States v. Taylor (7-2 Opinion by Justice Gorsuch, and joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, Kavanaugh, and Barrett on June 13, 2022.  Justice Thomas and Justice Alito filed dissenting opinions.

Summary: The Court affirmed the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.    The Court held that a conviction for attempted Hobbs Act robbery does not qualify as a “crime of violence” under U.S.C. §924(c)(3)(A) because no element of the offense requires proof that the defendant used, attempted to use, or threatened to use force.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-1459_n7ip.pdf

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Kemp v United States, (8-1 Opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Kavanaugh, and Barrett on June 13, 2022.  Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that the term “mistake” in Rule 60(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure includes a judge’s errors of law, and because Kemp’s motion to reopen his 28 U.S.C. §2255 proceedings alleged such a legal error, it was cognizable under Rule 60(b)(1) and untimely under Rule 60(c)’s 1-year limitations period.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21-5726_5iel.pdf

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Garland v Aleman Gonzalez (6-3 Opinion by Justice Alito, and joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett on June 13, 2022.  Justice Sotomayor filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, in which Justice Kagan joined, and in which Justice Breyer joined as to Parts II-A-2, II-B-2, and III.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.    The Court held that Section 1252(f )(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act deprived the District Courts of jurisdiction to entertain respondents’ requests for class-wide injunctive relief.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-322_m6hn.pdf

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Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez (9-0 Opinion by Justice Sotomayor and joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, Kagan Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett on June 13, 2022.  Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Gorsuch joined as to Part I. Justice Breyer filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.    The Court held that Section 1231(a)(6) of the Immigration and Nationality Act does not require the Government to provide noncitizens detained for six months with bond hearings in which the Government bears the burden of proving, by clear and convincing evidence, that a noncitizen poses a flight risk or a danger to the community.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/19-896_2135.pdf

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Denezpi v United States (6-3 Opinion by Justice Barrett, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Breyer, Alito, and Kavanaugh, on June 13, 2022.  Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Sotomayor and Kagan joined as to Parts I and III.)

 

 

Summary: The Court affirmed the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment does not bar successive prosecutions of distinct offenses arising from a single act, even if a single sovereign prosecutes them.

 

 

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-7622_ljgm.pdf

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Egbert v. Boule, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Kavanaugh, and Barrett on June 8, 2022.  Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Breyer and Kagan, filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.)

Summary: The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that two constitutional damages actions to proceed against a U. S. Border Patrol agent on a Fourth Amendment excessive-force claim and a First Amendment retaliation claim were not allowable as an implied cause of action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388 (1971).

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21-147_g31h.pdf

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United States v. Shinn and Ramirez, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett on May 23, 2022.  Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Breyer and Kagan, filed dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2), a federal habeas court may not conduct an evidentiary hearing or otherwise consider evidence beyond the state court record based on the ineffective assistance of state postconviction counsel.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-1009_19m2.pdf

For more information about this decision, see the article linked here.  Please note that the views expressed in this article do not represent those of the American Bar Association.

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Brown v. Davenport, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Gorsuch, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh and Barrett on April 21, 2022.  Justice Kagan, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that when a state court has ruled on the merits of a state prisoner’s claim, a federal court cannot grant habeas relief without applying both the test this Court outlined in Brecht v. Abrahamson and the one Congress prescribed in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA); the Sixth Circuit erred in granting habeas relief to Mr. Davenport based solely on its assessment that he could satisfy the Brecht standard.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-826_p702.pdf

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Thompson v. Clark, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Barrett on April 4, 2022.  Justice Alito, joined by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that, in a Fourth Amendment claim under §1983 for malicious prosecution, the plaintiff satisfied the requirement of a “favorable termination” of the underlying criminal prosecution by showing that his prosecution ended without a conviction, and that an affirmative indication of innocence was not needed.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-659_3ea4.pdf

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Ramirez v. Collier, (8-1 Opinion by Chief Justice Roberts joined by Justices Breyer, Alito, Kagan, Sotomayor, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett on March 24, 2022.  Justices Sotomayor and Kavanaugh filed concurring opinions.  Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that Ramirez is likely to succeed on his Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) claims because Texas’s restrictions on religious touch and audible prayer in the execution chamber burden religious exercise and are not the least restrictive means of furthering the State’s compelling interests.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21-5592_feah.pdf

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United States v. Tsarnaev, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett on March 4, 2022.  Justice Barret, joined by Justice Gorsuch, filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Kagan joined, and Justice Sotomayor joined except for Part II-C.)

Summary: The Court reversed the First Circuit Court of Appeals and reinstated the capital sentences of Tsarnaev.  The Court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to ask about the content and extent of each juror’s media consumption regarding the bombings, or by excluding from the sentencing proceedings evidence of the Waltham murders.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-443_m6ho.pdf

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FBI v. Fazaga, (9-0 Opinion by Justice Alito on March 4, 2022.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that Section 1806(f) of the Foreign Intelligence Services Act does not displace the state’s secret privilege.

Decision is available here: https://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/20-828.pdf

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United States v. Zubaydah ( 7-2 Opinion on March 3, 2022, by Justice Breyer except as to Parts II-B-2 and III, joined in full by Chief Justice Roberts, joined as to all but Part II-B-2 by Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett, joined as to all but Parts III and IV and the judgment of dismissal by Justice Kagan, and joined by Justices Thomas and Alito as to Part IV. Justice Thomas, concurred in part and concurred in the judgment, in which Alito joined.  Justice Kavanaugh filed an opinion concurring in part, in which Justice joined. Justice Kagan filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Sotomayor.)  

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with instructions to dismiss Zuhaydah’s current discovery application.  The Court held that the district court erred in dismissing Zubaydah’s discovery request on the basis of the state secrets privilege, specifically as applied as to the existence (or nonexistence) of a CIA facility in Poland.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-827_i426.pdf

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Rivas-Villegas v. Cortesluna (Per Curiam Opinion on October 18, 2021)

Summary: The Court summarily reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that previous case law did not give fair notice to Officer Rivas-Villegas that his conduct constituted excessive force in violation of clearly established statutory or constitutional rights and therefore he is entitled to qualified immunity.

Decision is available at:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-1668_19m2.pdf

City of Tahlequah, Oklahoma v. Bond (Per Curiam Opinion on October 18, 2021)

Summary:  The Court summarily reversed the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that the conduct by the police officers did not violate any clearly established violation of statutory or constitutional rights, and thus, they are entitled to qualified immunity.

Decision is available at:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-1539_09m1.pdf

2020 Term (Oct. 2020 - Sept. 2021)

Lombardo v. City of St. Louis, Missouri, (6-3 Per Curiam opinion on June 28, 2021.  Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Thomas and Gorsuch joined.)  

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Because it is unclear in this excessive force case whether the Eighth Circuit incorrectly thought the use of a prone restraint is per se constitutional so long as an individual appears to resist officers’ efforts to subdue him, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit’s judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to give the lower court the opportunity in the first instance to employ the careful, context-specific analysis required by this court’s excessive force precedent.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20-391_2c83.pdf

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Lange v. California, (9-0 Opinion on June 23, 2021, by Justice Kagan, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett and in which Justice Thomas, joined as to all but Part II–A. Justice Kavanaugh, filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Justice Kavanaugh joined as to Part II. Chief Justice Roberts filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Justice Alito joined.)  

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District. The Court held that, under the Fourth Amendment, pursuit of a fleeing misdemeanor suspect does not always or categorically qualify as an exigent circumstance justifying a warrantless entry into a home, and is dependent on the facts.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20-18_cb7d.pdf

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Greer v. United States, United States v. Gary, (8-1 Opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Breyer, Alito, Kagan, Gorsuch and Barrett, on June 14, 2021. Justice Sotomayor filed an opinion, concurring in part and dissenting in part.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the Greer case and reversed the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Gary case. The Court held that in felon-in-possession cases, a Rehaif error under 18 U. S. C. §922(g), where the Government in a felon-in-possession case must prove not only that the defendant knew he possessed a firearm, but also that he knew he was a felon when he possessed the firearm, is not a basis for plain error relief unless the defendant first makes a sufficient argument or representation on appeal that he would have presented evidence at trial that he did not in fact know he was a felon.

Decision is available here

 

 

Terry v. United States, (9-0 Opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett on June 14, 2021. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court held that a person convicted of a crack offense is eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115–391, 132 Stat. 5194, only if he or she was convicted of an offense that triggered a mandatory minimum sentence.

Decision is available here

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Borden v. United States, (5-4 Opinion by Justice Kagan, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Gorsuch, on June 10, 2021.  Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito and Barrett, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that an offense with a mental state of recklessness does not qualify as a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act’s elements clause, 18 U. S. C. §924(e)(2)(B)(i).

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-5410_8nj9.pdf

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Van Buren v. United States, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Barrett, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on June 3, 2021.  Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  The Court held that an individual “exceeds authorized access” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, 18 U. S. C. §1030(a)(2), when he accesses a computer with authorization but then obtains information located in particular areas of the computer—such as files, folders, or databases—that are off-limits to him.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-783_k53l.pdf

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United States v. Cooley, (9-0 Opinion by Justice Breyer on June 1, 2021.  Justice Alito filed a concurring opinion.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  The Court held that a tribal police officer has authority to detain temporarily and to search a non-Indian traveling on a public right-of-way running through a reservation for potential violations of state or federal law.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-1414_8m58.pdf

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Edwards v. Vannoy (6-3 Opinion by Justice Gorsuch, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Barrett on May 17, 2021.  Justices Gorsuch and Thomas filed concurring opinions.  Justice Kagan filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor.).

Summary: The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  The Court held that the Ramos v. Louisiana jury unanimity rule does not apply retroactively on federal collateral review.

Decision is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-5807_new_3e04.pdf

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Caniglia v. Strom (9-0 Opinion by Justice Thomas.  Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito and Kavanaugh filed concurring opinions.).

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.  The Court held Cady v. Dombrowski does not justify the removal of Caniglia’s firearms from his home by police officers under a “community caretaking exception” to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.

Decision is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20-157_8mjp.pdf

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Jones v. Mississippi, (5-3 Opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Gorsuch and Barrett on April 22, 2021.  Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Breyer and Kagan filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals of Mississippi.  The Court held that appellant, who was under 18 years of age when he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, is not entitled, despite the holdings of Miller v Alabama and Montgomery v Louisiana, to a factual finding by the sentencing court that he is permanently incorrigible because the imposition of a life sentence is discretionary with the court.

The ABA filed an amicus brief in this case on behalf of Mr. Jones, and it is cited on p. 7 of Justice Sotomayor’s dissent.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/18-1259_8njq.pdf

 

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Mays v. Hines, (Per Curiam Opinion on March 29, 2021.  Justice Sotomayor dissented.)

Summary: The Court reversed the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that the Sixth Circuit erred in revisiting on federal habeas review the decision of a Tennessee court supported by ample evidence that did not exceed the possibility of fair-minded disagreement.  28 U.S. C. §2254(d).  

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20-507_h315.pdf

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Torres v. Madrid, (5-3 Opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Kavanaugh on March 25, 2021.  Justice Gorsuch filed a dissent with Justices Thomas and Alito joining.  Justice Barrett took no part in the consideration or opinion of this case.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  The Court held that the application of physical force to the body of a person with intent to restrain is a seizure even if the person does not submit and is not subdued.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-292_21p3.pdf

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Shinn v Kayer, (Per Curiam decision on December 14, 2020.  Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan dissented without opinion.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit holding that the Ninth Circuit’s grant of post-conviction relief to a man on Arizona's death row for his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel violated the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which restricts the power of federal courts to grant writs of habeas corpus based on claims that were “adjudicated on the merits” by a state court. 28 U. S. C. §2254(d).

Decision is available here: https://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/121420zor_8n59.pdf

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United States v. Briggs, (8-0 Opinion by Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on December 10, 2020.  Justice Barrett took no part in the consideration or the decision of the cases.  Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.  The Court held that the respondents’ prosecutions for rape under the Uniform Code of Military Justice were timely where a military offense, “punishable by death, may be tried and punished at any time without limitation.” 10 U. S. C. §843(a).

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-108_8njq.pdf

2019 Term (Oct. 2019 - Sept. 2020)

McGirt v. Oklahoma, (5-4 Opinion by Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan on July 9, 2020.  Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Alito and Kavanaugh, filed a dissenting opinion.  Justice Thomas joined in the dissenting opinion except as to footnote 9 and filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma.  The Court held that land in Northeastern Oklahoma reserved for the Creek Nation since the 19th century remains “Indian country” for purposes of the Major Crimes Act, which places certain crimes under federal jurisdiction if they were committed by “[a]ny Indian” within “the Indian country.” 18 U. S. C. §1153(a).

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-9526_9okb.pdf

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Andrus v. Texas, (Per Curiam Opinion on June 15, 2020.  Justice Alito, joined by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  The Court held that Andrus had sufficiently demonstrated that his trial counsel was deficient under Strickland v. Washington, and that the lower court must determine whether Andrus was prejudiced by the inadequacy of counsel.

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Lomax v. Ortiz-Marquez, (Opinion by Justice Kagan, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh; Justice Thomas joined to all but footnote 4.

Summary: The Court affirmed the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that the three-strikes provision established under 28 U. S. C. §1915(g), part of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), refers to any dismissal for failure to state a claim, whether with prejudice or without.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-8369_3dq3.pdf

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Nasrallah v. Barr, (7-2 Opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan and Gorsuch on June 1, 2020.  Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Alito, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that courts can review an immigrant’s factual challenge to a denial of their application to stay conviction-based deportation under the Convention Against Torture.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-1432_e2pg.pdf

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Banister v. Davis, (7-2 Opinion by Justice Kagan, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on June 1, 2020.  Justice Alito, joined by Justice Thomas, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that a motion to alter or amend a judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) is not a second or successive petition for habeas corpus, increasing the likelihood of federal post-conviction review.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-6943_k5fm.pdf

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Ramos vs. Louisiana, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Gorsuch as to Parts I, II–A, III, and IV–B–1, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kavanaugh; Parts II-B, IV-B-2, and V joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor; and Part IV-A joined by Justices Ginsburg and Breyer on April 20, 2020. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion as to all but Part IV-A.  Justice Kavanaugh filed an opinion concurring in part.  Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, and Justice Kagan.  Justice Kagan joined as to all but Part III-D.

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Supreme Court of Louisiana.  The Court held in Part I, II-A, III, and IV-B-1 that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial—as incorporated against the States by way of the Fourteenth Amendment—requires a unanimous verdict to convict a defendant of a serious offense.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-5924_n6io.pdf

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Kansas v. Glover, (8-1 Opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Kagan, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on April 6, 2020.  Justice Kagan, joined by Justice Ginsburg, filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Supreme Court of Kansas.  The Court held that when an officer lacks information negating an inference that the owner is driving the vehicle, an investigative traffic stop made after running a vehicle’s license plate and learning that the registered owner’s driver’s license has been revoked is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-556_e1pf.pdf

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Kahler v. Kansas, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Kagan, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on March 23, 2020.  Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Supreme Court of Kansas.  The Court held due process does not require that the state of Kansas adopt an insanity test that turns on a defendant’s ability to recognize that his crime was morally wrong.

Decision is available here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-6135_j4ek.pdf

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Kansas v. Garcia*, (5-4 Opinion by Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on March 3, 2020.  Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Gorsuch, filed a concurring opinion. Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Supreme Court of Kansas.  The Court held that the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, 8 U. S. C. §1324a does not expressly or by implication preempt a state prosecution for identity theft for using someone else’s Social Security number to obtain employment.

Decision is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/17-834_k53l.pdf

**Together with Kansas v. Morales and Kansas v. Ochoa-Lara, also on certiorari to the same court.

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Holguin-Hernandez v. United States (9-0 Opinion by Justice Breyer, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Ginsburg, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on February 26, 2020.  Justice Alito , joined by Justice Gorsuch, filed a concurring opinion.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that Petitioner’s argument before the district court for a specific sentence preserved his claim on appeal that the sentence imposed was unreasonably long, and no formal or additional claim is necessary to preserve a challenge to the length of the sentence in the case.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-7739_9q7h.pdf

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Monasky v. Taglieri (9-0 Opinion by Justice Ginsburg, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and in which Justice Thomas joined in Parts I, III, and IV on February 25, 2020.  Justice Thomas and Justice Alito filed opinions concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held that when determining the “habitual residence” of a child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, implemented in the United States by the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 22 U.S.C., 9001 et seq., a court must look at the totality of the circumstances specific to the particular case.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-935_3dq3.pdf

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Hernandez v. Mesa (5-4 Opinion by Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on February 25, 2020.  Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion in which Justice Gorsuch joined.  Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan joined.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Court held it would not extend the holding in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents to create a remedy for damages arising from a cross-border shooting.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/17-1678_m6io.pdf

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McKinney v. Arizona (5-4 Opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch on February 25, 2020.    Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Arizona Supreme Court.  The Court held that a state appellate court, rather than a jury, can reweigh aggravating and mitigating circumstances under Clemens v. Mississippi on habeas corpus review in death penalty cases.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-1109_5i36.pdf

2018 Term (Oct. 2018 - Sept. 2019)

Mitchell v. Wisconsin, (5-4 Opinion by Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer and Kavanaugh, on June 27, 2019.  Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Kagan.  Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion).

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  The Court held that state law providing that a driver consents to a blood test for drugs and alcohol even when he is unconscious constitutes an exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment under the exigent circumstances doctrine.

Decision is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-6210_2co3.pdf

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United States v. Haymond (5-4 Opinion by Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, on June 26, 2019.  Justice Breyer filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh.).

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  The Court held that Title 18 U.S.C. §3583(k), which requires a defendant who is registered as a sex offender to be returned to prison for a minimum of five years if a federal judge finds that the defendant violated the terms of his supervised release, is unconstitutional under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

Decision is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-1672_5hek.pdf

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United States v. Davis (5-4 Opinion by Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, on June 24, 2019.  Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Justices Thomas and Alito, filed a dissenting opinion, and in which Chief Justice Roberts joined as to all except for Part II-C).

Summary: The Court affirmed in part, vacated in part and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  The Court held Title 18 U.S.C. § 924, which provides enhanced penalties for  using a firearm during a “crime of violence,” is unconstitutionally vague.

Decision is available at https: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-431_7758.pdf

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Flowers v. Mississippi (7-2 Opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Kagan and Sotomayor on June 21, 2019.  Justice Alito filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, joined in parts I, II, and III by Justice Gorsuch.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Mississippi Supreme Court.  The Court held that all of the relevant facts and circumstances taken together establish that the trial court at Flowers’ sixth trial committed clear error in concluding that the State’s peremptory strike of black prospective juror Wright was not motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent.

Decision is available at https: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-9572_k536.pdf

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Rehaif v. United States, (7-2 Opinion by Justice Breyer, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on June 22, 2019.  Justice Alito, joined by Justice Thomas, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  The Court held that in a prosecution under 18 U. S. C. §922(g) and §924(a)(2), the Government must prove both that the defendant knew he possessed a firearm and that he knew he belonged to the relevant category of persons barred from possessing a firearm. . 

Decision is available at https: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-9560_e2p3.pdf

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Gundy v. United States (5-3 Opinion by Justice Kagan and joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor on June 20, 2019.  Justice Alito filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Gorsuch, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion.  Justice Kavanaugh took no part in the consideration or decision of the case).

Summary: The Court affirmed the decision of the Second Circuit.  The Court held that 34 U. S. C. §20913(d)—which requires the Attorney General to apply the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act’s registration requirements as soon as feasible to offenders convicted before the statute’s enactment—is not an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority.

Decision is available at https:  https://casetext.com/case/gundy-v-united-states-3

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McDonough v. Smith, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Sotomayor, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito and Kavanaugh, on June 20, 2019.  Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Kagan and Gorsuch).

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the decision of the Sixth Circuit.  The Court held that the statute of limitations for McDonough’s 42 U. S. C. §1983 fabricated-evidence claim against his prosecutor began to run when the criminal proceedings against him terminated in his favor—that is, when he was acquitted at the end of his second trial.

Decision is available at https: https://casetext.com/case/mcdonough-v-smith-5

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Gamble v. United States, (7-2 Opinion by Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Thomas, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan and Kavanaugh on June 17, 2019. Justices Ginsburg and Gorsuch filed dissenting opinions.)




Summary:
The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The Court declines to overturn the longstanding "dual sovereignty" doctrine, which allows two sovereigns -- for example, state and local governments -- to prosecute someone for the same conduct.

Decision is available here

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Quarles v. United States, (9-0 Opinion by Justice Kavanaugh on June 10, 2019.  Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion).

Summary: The Court affirmed the decision of the Sixth Circuit.  The Court held that Michigan’s third-degree home-invasion statute substantially corresponds to or is narrower than generic burglary for purposes of qualifying for enhanced sentencing under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

Decision is available at https: https://casetext.com/case/quarles-v-united-states-3

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Mont v. United States (5-4 Opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Alito and Kavanaugh on June 3, 2019.  Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Breyer, Kagan and Gorsuch joined).

Summary: The Court affirmed the decision of the Sixth Circuit.  The Court held that pretrial detention later credited as time served for a new conviction tolls a supervised-release term under 18 U.S.C. §3624(e), even if the court must make the tolling calculation after learning whether the time will be credited.

Decision is available at https: https://casetext.com/case/mont-v-united-states

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Nieves v. Bartlett, (Opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Breyer, Alito, Kagan and Kavanaugh and by Justice Thomas except as to Part II D, on May 28, 2019. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.  Justice Gorsuch filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part.  Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion). 

Summary:  The Court reversed and remanded the judgment of the Ninth Circuit. The Court held that because police officers had probable cause to arrest Bartlett, his First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim fails as a matter of law. 

Decision is available here

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Bucklew v. Precythe, (5-4 Opinion by Justice Gorsuch, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito and Kavanaugh on April 1, 2019.  Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined as to all but Part III. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.   The Court held Russell Bucklew’s Eighth Amendment as-applied challenge to Missouri’s single-drug execution protocol -- that it would cause him unconstitutionally cruel pain because of his particular medical condition -- fails to satisfy the test under Baze v. Rees and Glossip v. Gross.

Decision is available at https://casetext.com/case/bucklew-v-precythe-6

Garza v. Idaho, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Sotomayor, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan on February 27, 2019.  Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Gorsuch joined, and in which Justice Alito joined as to Parts I and II.

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the decision of the Supreme Court of Idaho.  The Court held the presumption of prejudice for Sixth Amendment purposes, as recognized in Roe v. Flores-Ortega, applies regardless of whether a defendant has signed an appeal waiver.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-1026_2c83.pdf

Madison v. Alabama, (5-3 Opinion by Justice Kagan, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor on February 27, 2019.  Justice Alito, joined by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch, filed a dissenting opinion.  Justice Kavanaugh took no part in the consideration or the decision in the case.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the decision of the Circuit Court of Alabama.  The Court held the Eighth Amendment may permit executing a prisoner even if he cannot remember committing his crime but it may prohibit executing a prisoner who suffers from dementia or another disorder rather than psychotic delusions.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-7505_2d9g.pdf

Moore v. Texas (6-3 Per Curiam Opinion on February 19, 2019.  Chief Justice Roberts filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Thomas and Gorsuch joined.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, holding that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ redetermination that Bobby James Moore does not have an intellectual disability and is thus eligible for the death penalty is inconsistent with the Supreme Court's 2017 decision in Moore v. Texas.

The ABA filed an amicus brief at the certiorari stage, arguing that the Court should summarily reverse the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals because of the flaws with the intellectual disability standard being used by the Texas court, and based on rule of law grounds.  

Decision is available at https: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-443_8m58.pdf

Timbs v. Indiana (9-0 Opinion on February 20, 2019.  Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court. Justice Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgement.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the Supreme Court of Indiana, holding that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is an incorporated protection applicable to the States under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Sue Process Clause.

Decision is available at https: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-1091_5536.pdf

Stokeling v. United States, (5-4 Opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Justices Breyer, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh on January 15, 2019.  Justice Sotomayor, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsberg and Kagan, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  The Court held the use of “physical force” within the meaning of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. §924(e)(2)(B)(i), is met in a Florida state robbery offense that has as an element the use of force sufficient to overcome a victim’s resistance. 

Decision is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-5554_4gdj.pdf

United States v. Stitt, (9-0 Opinion by Justice Breyer on December 10, 2018.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  The Court held that the term” burglary” in the Armed Career Criminal Act includes burglary of a structure or vehicle that has been adapted or is customarily used for overnight accommodation.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/17-765_2co3.pdf

2017 Term (Oct. 2017 - Sept. 2018)

Currier v. Virginia, (5-4 Opinion by Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito in Parts I and II, and by Justices Roberts, Thomas and Alito in Part III, on June 22, 2018. Justice Kennedy filed an opinion concurring in part. Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan, filed a dissenting opinion.) 

Summary: The Court affirmed the Virginia Supreme Court. The Court held because Mr. Currier consented to a severance of the charges against him, his trial and conviction on a felon-in-possession charge, following an acquittal on charges of burglary and larceny, did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause, which provides that no person may be tried more than once “for the same offence.” A defendant who consents to sequential trials for multiple, overlapping offenses loses double jeopardy protection. 

Decision is available here

Carpenter v. United States, (5-4 Opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor on June 22, 2018. Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices Thomas and Alito, filed a dissenting opinion. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Thomas joined. Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion.) 

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The Court held the Government’s acquisition of Carpenter’s cell-site records was a Fourth Amendment search and required a warrant supported by probable cause. 

Decision is available here.

Rosales-Mireles v. United States, (7-2 Opinion by Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Gorsuch on June 18, 2018.  Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Alito, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  The Court held that a miscalculation of a Federal Guidelines sentencing range that has been determined to be plain error and to affect a defendant’s substantial rights calls for a court of appeals to exercise its discretion under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 52(b) to vacate the defendant’s sentence in the ordinary case.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-9493_e0fi.pdf

Chavez-Meza v. United States, (5-3 Opinion by Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Roberts, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Alito on June 18, 2018.  Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, filed a dissenting opinion.  Justice Gorsuch took no part in consideration or decision of the case.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  The Court held that the record in this case demonstrates that the judge had a reasoned basis for his decision, and therefore the judge’s explanation for reducing, under 18 U. S. C. §3582(c)(2), Adaucto Chavez-Meza’s sentence to the middle rather than the bottom of the amended Federal Guidelines range was adequate.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-5639_8m59.pdf

Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida, (8-1 Opinion by Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Kagan, Sotomayor and Gorsuch on June 18, 2018.  Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  The Court held that a finding of probable cause for Fane Lozman’s arrest for disrupting a city council meeting does not bar Mr. Lozman’s First Amendment claim of retaliatory arrest under the circumstances of this case.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-21_p8k0.pdf

Koons v. United States, (9-0 Opinion by Justice Alito on June 4, 2018.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The Court held that defendants who are subject to mandatory minimum sentences and received lower sentences because they assisted the government are not eligible for reductions if the sentencing guidelines range is later lowered. The defendants do not qualify for sentence reductions under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(2) because their sentences were not “based on” their lowered Guidelines ranges but, instead, were “based on” their mandatory minimums and on their substantial assistance to the Government.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-5716_jhek.pdf

Hughes v. United States, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan and Gorsuch on June 4, 2018. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion. Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Thomas and Alito, filed a dissenting opinion.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The Court held that a defendant who pleads guilty in a negotiated plea can benefit from later changes in the sentencing guidelines if the district court relied on the guideline range in imposing the sentence or accepting the plea agreement. A defendant may seek relief under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(2) if he entered a plea agreement under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) (Type-C agreement), which permits the defendant and the Government to “agree that a specific sentence or sentencing range is the appropriate disposition of the case,” and “binds the court [to the agreed-upon sentence] once [it] accepts the plea agreement.”

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-155_2bo2.pdf

Collins v. Virginia, (8-1 Opinion by Justice Sotomayor on May 29, 2018, joined by Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Breyer, Kagan, Ginsburg and Gorsuch.  Concurring opinion by Justice Thomas.  Dissenting opinion by Justice Alito.)   

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the decision by the Supreme Court of Virginia.  The Court held that the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment does not permit the warrantless entry of a home or its curtilage – “the area ‘immediately surrounding and associated with the home’” – in order to search a vehicle therein.

Decision is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-1027_7lio.pdf

Lagos v. United States, (9-0 Opinion by Justice Breyer on May 29, 2018)   

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the decision by Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The provision of the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 that requires certain convicted defendants to reimburse the victim for “expenses incurred during participation in the investigation or prosecution of the offense or attendance at proceedings related to the offense,” 18 U. S. C. §3663A(b)(4) does not include private investigations and civil or bankruptcy proceedings.  The words “investigation” and “proceedings” in the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act refer to government investigations and criminal proceedings.

Decision is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-1519_o7jp.pdf

McCoy v. Louisiana, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Ginsburg on May 14, 2018, joined by Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Dissenting opinion by Justice Alito, joined by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch.)

Summary: The Court reversed remanded the decision by the State of Louisiana. The Court held that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to choose the objective of his defense and to insist that his counsel refrain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experienced-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty. The client’s autonomy, not his counsel’s competence, is the issue.

Decision is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-8255_i4ek.pdf   

Murphy v. NCAA, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Alito on May 14, 2018, joined by Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Kagan, and Gorsuch, and joined in part by Justice Breyer. Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Breyer filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Justice Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Sotomayor, and joined in part by Justice Breyer.)

Summary: The Court reversed the decision of the Third Circuit. The Court held that provisions of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that prohibit state authorization and licensing of sports gambling schemes violate the anti-commandering rule of the Tenth Amendment, and no other PASPA provisions are severable from the provisions at issue. States can legalize sports betting.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-476_dbfi.pdf 

Dahda v. U.S., (8-0 Opinion by Justice Breyer on May 14, 2018. Justice Gorsuch took no part in the case.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the decision of the Tenth Circuit. The Court held wiretap orders authorized by a judge for the federal district of Kansas in the government’s investigation of a suspected Kansas drug distribution ring were not facially insufficient, since they were not lacking any information that the wiretap statute required them to include and since the challenged language authorizing interception outside the court’s territorial jurisdiction was surplus.

Decision is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-43_m648.pdf

Sessions v. Dimaya, (Opinion by Justice Kagan on April 17, 2018.  Justice Kagan delivered the opinion of the court with respect to Parts I, III, IV-B, and V, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Gorsuch joined, and an opinion with respects to Parts II and IV-A, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor joined. Justice Gorsuch filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. Chief Justice Roberts filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito joined. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Kennedy and Alito joined as to Parts I-C-2, II-A-1, and II-B.)

Summary: The Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  The Court held that 18 U. S. C. §16(b), which defines “violent felony” for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s removal provisions, is unconstitutionally vague under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/15-1498_1b8e.pdf

Wilson v. Sellers, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Breyer on April 17, 2018.  Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Thomas and Alito joined.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  The Court held that “a federal habeas court reviewing an unexplained state-court decision on the merits should ‘look through’ that decision to the last related state-court decision that provides a relevant rationale and presume that the unexplained decision adopted the same reasoning.

The State may rebut the presumption by showing that the unexplained decision most likely relied on different grounds than the reasoned decision below.”

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-6855_c18e.pdf

United States v. Microsoft, (Per Curiam on April 17, 2018)

Summary: The Court held the case to be moot in light of the recently passed CLOUD Act.  It invalidated the 2nd Circuit’s ruling and sent the case back to the court of appeals with instructions to vacate the district court’s rulings against Microsoft and to direct the district court to dismiss the case.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-2_1824.pdf

Ayestas v. Davis, (9-0 Opinion by Justice Alito on March 21, 2018. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion in which Justice Ginsburg joined.)

Summary: The Court vacated and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Court held that the District Court’s denial of petitioner’s request for funding for “reasonably necessary” services of experts, investigators, etc., to develop his claim that both his trial and state habeas counsel were ineffective was a judicial decision subject to appellate review under the standard jurisdictional provisions; the Fifth Circuit did not apply the correct legal standard in affirming the denial of that request.

Decision is available here

Marinello v. United States, (7-2 Opinion by Justice Breyer on March 21, 2018. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Alito joined.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Court held that to convict a defendant under 26 U. S. C. §7212(a)—which forbids “corruptly or by force or threats of force . . . obstruct[ing] or imped[ing], or endeavor[ing] to obstruct or impede, the due administration of [the Internal Revenue Code]”—the Government must prove the defendant was aware of a pending tax-related proceeding, such as a particular investigation or audit, or could reasonably foresee that such a proceeding would commence.

Decision is available here

Class v. United States, (6-3 Opinion by Justice Breyer on February 21, 2018.  Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion which Justices Kennedy and Thomas joined.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the DC Court of Appeals.  The Court held that a guilty plea, by itself, does not bar a federal criminal defendant from challenging the constitutionality of his statute of conviction on direct appeal.

Decision is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-424_g2bh.pdf

District of Columbia v. Wesby, (Opinion by Justice Thomas on January 22, 2018. Concurring opinion in part and in judgment by Justice Sotomayor. Concurring opinion in judgment by Justice Ginsburg.)

Summary: The Court reversed and remanded the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Court held that based on the “totality of the circumstances” (the condition of the house and the behavior of the partygoers), District police officers had probable cause to arrest partygoers for trespassing. Additionally, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because their conduct was not clearly established as unlawful at the time of arrest.

Decision is available here. 

Annual Review of the Supreme Court's Term

Summaries of all Opinions (including Concurrences and Dissents), in argued and non-argument cases and Orders; certiorari grants for the upcoming Term; a chart of “Who Wrote What;” and a brief Overview of the Term, regarding all Criminal Law and related cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (with clickable links to the cases).

Prepared by: Professor Rory K. Little, UC Hastings College of the Law