Overview of 4 Supreme Court Opinions Today

June 9th, 2011

In Sykes v. United States, Justice Kennedy writing for Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor, held that “Felony vehicle flight, as proscribed by Indiana law, is a violent felony for purposes of ACCA [Armed Career Criminal Act],” afirming the 7th Circuit. Justice Scalia wrote a solo dissent. Justice Kagan dissented, joined by Justice Ginsburg. Very interesting lineup.

In Talk America, Inc. v. Michigan Bell Telephone Co., Justice Thomas wrote for a unanimous Court, holding that “The FCC has advanced a reasonable interpretation of its regula-tions—i.e., that to satisfy its duty under §251(c)(2), an incumbent LEC must make its existing entrance facilities available to competi-tors at cost-based rates if the facilities are to be used for interconnec-tion—and this Court defers to the FCC’s views.” Justice Kagan recused from this case. Justice Scalia wrote a concurring opinion.

In DePierre v. United States, wrote for the entire Court (Justice Scalia did not join one part discussing legislative history), holding that “'[C]ocaine base,’ as used in §841(b)(1), means not just “crack co-caine,” but cocaine in its chemically basic form.” This is the broader definition.

In Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Ltd. Partnership, Justice Sotomayor wrote for Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan, holding that “Section 282 [of the Patent Act] requires an invalidity defense to be proved by clearand convincing evidence.” Justice Breyer filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justices Scalia and Alito (odd lineup). Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in judgment. Chief Justice Roberts recused.

Stay tuned. I will have further analysis of Sykes, and DePierre soon.