supreme court

U.S. Supreme Court Considers Case Involving Tennessee Liquor Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments in Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, considering whether states can pass laws with resident restrictions regarding the issuance of liquor licenses, Forbes reports. The dispute involves a family that owns a mom-and-pop liquor store, who moved to Tennessee from Utah and attempted to bring their business with them. Current Tennessee law requires license applicants to live in the state for at least two years. Additionally, the license expires in one year, and renewal requires residency of 10 consecutive years, effectively barring new Tennesseans from opening these types of businesses, which detractors claim stifles new business in favor of existing competitors. The Tennessee Alcohol and Beverage Commission recommended approving the license and declined to enforce the rule, leading the association to sue. The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision sometime this spring.

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Several LGBT-related Petitions to be Considered by U.S. Supreme Court

Several petitions calling for a for a rollback of LGBT rights or a reversal of decisions from lower courts affirming LGBT rights are currently awaiting review by the U.S. Supreme Court, The Washington Blade reports. Petitions filed include President Trump’s transgender military ban, whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to discrimination of LGBT persons in the workforce and a policy allowing transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity, among others. The petitions were set for review on Monday, however, the Supreme Court’s website indicates that they were removed from the docket on Monday and will be considered at a later date.

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LGBT Section Executive Council Member Gives NPR Interview

Western Delegate for TBA's LGBT Section Maureen Holland recently participated in an interview with NPR regarding how President Trump's replacement for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy could affect the court's view on same-sex marriage. Justice Kennedy surprised many when he sided with the plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges, for which he authored the majority opinion stating that the constitution protects the right to marry for same-sex couples across the country, and that these couples did not diminish the idea of marriage. Some LGBT proponents have concerns that Justice Kennedy's replacement may take a more regressive view on these issues. You can listen to the interview here.

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Cases That Could Change the Future of LGBT Rights

President Trump announced his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Monday, a move that would all but guarantee a conservative stronghold on the court for years to come. In light of this, LGBT legal advocacy groups say they have grave concerns on how the high court could rule in future cases affecting the community. The Daily Beast looks at five cases of particular interest to LGBT proponents, that have the potential to reach the court in time.

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Supreme Court Rules on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled for a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple, The Washington Post reports. In an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had not adequately considered the religious beliefs of baker Jack Phillips. Kennedy said, the commission had been hostile to the baker’s faith, denying him the neutral consideration he deserved. Only Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

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Supreme Court Case to Determine Constitutionality of Administrative Law Judge Appointments

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 23 will hear arguments in Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a case that could potentially have a big impact on administrative agencies, The National Law Review reports. In this case, the court will consider arguments – including those from the U.S. Solicitor General – that the way that the SEC’s administrative law judges (ALJs) are appointed violates the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause
 
SEC ALJs are hired through the government’s civil service process and are not treated as “inferior officers” who are appointed pursuant to the Appointments Clause. Lucia asks whether hiring ALJs this way violates the Appointments Clause, because they have all the hallmarks of an “inferior officer” under Supreme Court precedent, an argument that failed to convince the D.C. Circuit Court. There the SEC argued successfully that its ALJs were not “inferior officers” because they did not issue “final” decisions and did not exercise “significant authority” under federal law.
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Changes in the Propriety of “Venue” in a Patent Infringement Suit

Recently, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, 16-341, US S. Ct. This decision heralds a major change in the propriety of “venue” in a patent infringement suit brought against a US company in a US district court for infringement of a US patent.
 
The patent venue statute reads as follows:
 
 28 U.S.C. § 1400. Patents and copyrights, mask works, and designs
(a) Civil actions, suits, or proceedings arising under any Act of Congress relating to copyrights or exclusive rights in mask works or designs may be instituted in the district in which the defendant or his agent resides or may be found.
(b) Any civil action for patent infringement may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.
 
The Supreme Court held in TC Heartland that for purposes of §1400(b) (venue in patent infringement actions), a domestic corporation will now be deemed to “reside” ONLY in its state of incorporation. This, in effect, overturns the prevailing interpretation of §§ 1391 & 1400(b), read together, that venue would be proper in any judicial district in which a defendant accused of patent infringement is also subject to personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has now determined this interpretation of §§ 1391 and 1400(b) contravenes its decision some 60 years ago in In Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U. S. 222, 226 (1957) that, for purposes of §1400(b), a domestic corporation “resides” only in its State of incorporation.   
 
In light of TC Heartland, a domestic corporation may now only properly be sued for patent infringement in a judicial district (i) in its state of incorporation or (ii) where the domestic corporation has both (a) committed acts of infringement and (b) has a regular and established place of business. The bottom line is that, in the wake of TC Heartland, many of the new patent infringement suits are likely to be brought in states like Delaware, Nevada, and other states where companies have historically favored chartering their business or, of course, in states where such companies have regular and established places of business and have allegedly committed acts of infringement. On the other hand, states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, California, and Texas are likely to see a significant drop in the filing of new patent infringement actions.
 
Many new questions are likely to be raised by TC Heartland, which undoubtedly represents a major change in how future patent infringement suits will be brought, including, for example, the impact of TC Heartland on pending or recently filed cases, its applicability to patent declaratory judgment actions, and the like. It is also not known whether Congress will be pressured to act to, in effect, overrule TC Heartland by appropriate legislative amendment to the general and/or patent venue statutes. One approach some are taking as a result of TC Heartland is to sue customers who sell or resell products alleged to infringe patents and/or products made by processes/methods alleged to infringe US patents. This is likely to spark considerably more adjudication over the little-known, but potentially very powerful, “customer suit” exception. The customer suit exception allows a “supplier” or manufacturer entity (the so-called “real party in interest”) to commence a DJ action in the supplier/manufacturer's home state of incorporation or any other state where the suit could properly have been brought, and then intervene and have the case brought against its customer moved to the court where the DJ action is pending, assuming the plaintiff is subject to the jurisdiction of the court in which the DJ action has been filed.
 
Mark Graham, The Graham Law Firm PLLC
 
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SCOTUS Pick Expected Tomorrow

Multiple sources are reporting that President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court will be announced live on television tomorrow at 8 p.m. EST, according to the ABA Journal. Three finalists confirmed to replace Judge Antonin Scalia are Judge Neil Gorsuch of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge William Pryor of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Thomas Hardiman of the Philiadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
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