Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Supreme Court Term Opens With Several Items of Interest

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court opened its new term. As reported by the Huffington Post, on Sunday, a day before the new term opened, six of the justices attended the annual Red Mass that is sponsored by the John Carroll Society. In attendance at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle were Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer.  Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA, delivered the homily (full text).

As usual on the first day of the term, the Court issued a large number of orders (over 2000). (Order List.)  Among those, it denied certiorari in two cases of interest.  It refused review in Presbytery of of South Louisiana v. Carrollton Presbyterian Church, (Docket No. 11-1393). In the case a Louisiana state appellate court upheld the right of a Presbyterian congregation to sell real property titled in its name.  It held that a provision in the PCUSA's Book of Order regarding rights of the parent church does not apply to this case. (See prior posting.)

The Court also denied review in Rubashkin v. United States, (Docket No. 11-1203).  In the case, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a motion for a new trial and a challenge to the length of the sentence imposed on Sholom Rubashkin, the Orthodox Jewish former vice president of the kosher meat processing firm, Agriprocesors, in Postville, Iowa. Rubashkin was convicted on financial fraud charges. (See prior posting.)

In a somewhat unusual move, the Court ordered the United States, the defendant, to file a response to the motion for a rehearing in Liberty University v. Geithner, (Docket No. 11-438), a case involving challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The Court had previously denied certiorari in the case in which a majority of a 4th Circuit  panel concluded that the federal tax Anti-Injunction Act bars consideration of the challenge to the law. (See prior posting.) In a press release, Liberty Counsel explains that it is seeking the rehearing because the Supreme Court in its decision in other cases last June decided that the Anti-Injunction Act does not apply.  Plaintiffs want their case remanded, now that the procedural hurdle is removed, for consideration of their free exercise and RFRA claims regarding alleged funding of abortions.