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Monday, March 23, 2015

Two Interesting SCOTUS Cert Grants Today

Today’s order list from the Supreme Court includes grants of certiorari in two cases.

DIRECTV v. Imburgia (No. 14-462) will ask the Court once more to address arbitration agreements and the Federal Arbitration Act. The question presented is:

Whether the California Court of Appeal erred by holding, in direct conflict with the Ninth Circuit, that a reference to state law in an arbitration agreement governed by the Federal Arbitration Act requires the application of state law preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.

Montgomery v. Louisiana (14-280) involves the retroactivity of the Court’s 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama, which held that the Eighth Amendment forbids sentencing schemes that mandate life-without-possibility-of-parole sentences for juvenile homicide offenders. The question presented in the cert. petition is:

Whether Miller adopts a new substantive rule that applies retroactively on collateral review to people condemned as juveniles to die in prison?

But the Court also asked the parties to address whether it even has jurisdiction:

Do we have jurisdiction to decide whether the Supreme Court of Louisiana correctly refused to give retroactive effect in this case to our decision in Miller?

[Cross-posted at the Civil Procedure & Federal Courts Blog

Posted by Adam Steinman on March 23, 2015 at 11:44 AM in Civil Procedure | Permalink


I think that's right. Here's a post by Lyle Deniston on SCOTUSblog: http://www.scotusblog.com/2015/03/court-to-try-again-on-juveniles-life-sentences/

I had forgotten that SCOTUS had granted cert on these issues in Toca v. Louisiana, which was dismissed last month because Toca was released pursuant to a plea deal.

Posted by: Adam | Mar 24, 2015 2:12:25 PM

I *think* I've figured it out. The Louisiana Supreme Court, applying the retroactivity rule of Teague v. Lane, declined to give retroactive effect to Miller, and there's absolutely no hint of any state-specific standard in the opinion. However, Danforth v. Minnesota makes clear that the Teague rule only applies, of its own force as a matter of federal law, in federal habeas proceedings; states may choose to adopt Teague in determining questions of retroactivity in state post-conviction proceedings, or they may not (though Danforth seems to only explicitly say a state can go farther than Teague). Danforth also says that the retroactive effect a state chooses to give a federal decision interpreting the Constitution is primarily a question of state remedies law, and though it alludes to certain federal minimum requirements that state retroactivity law must meet, it doesn't quite suggest that the Teague rule is such a requirement. So, it might be said that the question at issue here is a question of state law (unless there's a viable argument that Louisiana fell short of the federal minimum), even if Louisiana repurposes a federal rule of federal habeas law when answering state-law retroactivity questions, and even if the Louisiana Supreme Court misapplied that rule.

Posted by: Asher | Mar 23, 2015 3:08:21 PM

I'm not sure, Asher. I haven't had a chance to look over the cert-stage briefing, but maybe there's a clue in there -- it's all available on SCOTUSblog: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/montgomery-v-louisiana/ . I'd be interested to hear what folks think.

Posted by: Adam | Mar 23, 2015 2:18:10 PM

What could the jurisdictional problem in Montgomery be?

Posted by: Asher | Mar 23, 2015 12:36:43 PM

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