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This Week at the Supreme Court

By Jonathan Keim | April 25th, 2016

The last week of oral arguments in the Supreme Court’s October 2015 Term is finally here and it’s utterly typical. Monday’s arguments address intellectual property. The first, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., concerns the standard for granting attorney’s fees to a prevailing party under Section 505 of the Copyright Act. In the second case, Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, the court considers whether an administrative tribunal created by 2011 patent reform legislation must follow the interpretive standards for patents that apply in the federal courts and whether certain tribunal decisions are even subject to judicial review.

On Tuesday, the Court considers predicate offenses under the Armed Career Criminal Act in Mathis v. United States. (Rumor has it that legal writing professors are planning to file an amicus brief in support of rewriting the virtually unreadable question presented.) The other case, Dietz v. Hillary Bouldin, is about jury procedure: can a judge call jurors back for further service after the judge has discharged the jury and the jurors have gone home?

Wednesday’s sole case, McDonnell v. United States, is also the most significant. McDonnell features an appeal by former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, who was convicted under a federal statute for allegedly taking “official action” in exchange for things of value. He is raising classic “overcriminalization” challenges to the government’s interpretation of the statute, which is quite broad. This is a case to watch closely.

These are the last oral arguments scheduled until next fall, so this will be the last This Week at the Supreme Court feature for a while. In the meantime, the Court is expected to issue opinions every Monday until the end of the Term.

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