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Appellate Practice

Oct. 4, 2016

Weekly Appellate Report - SCOTUS Preview

Our own appellate panel previews prominent battles before the U.S. Supreme Court this term: Justice Margaret Grignon (Ret.) (Grignon Law Firm), John Querio and Jeremy Rosen (Horvitz & Levy), and Rex Heinke (Akin Gump) discuss the lingering vacancy, housing discrimination, church and state separation, copyright, and regulatory takings as SCOTUS hears its first arguments


This special episode of the Weekly Appellate Report regards the U.S. Supreme Court term that hears its first arguments today.

Four California appellate attorneys join the show as part of a panel discussion that considers prominent matters before the Court this term. We'll hear about the cases of Bank of America v. Miami, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, Murr v. Wisconsin, and Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands.

The first case, BOA v. Miami, considers whether the city of Miami can rightly sue banks, under the federal Fair Housing Act, for discriminatory borrowing practices that, Miami claims, eventually harmed the city by precipitating increased foreclosures and lower property values and taxes. The Eleventh Circuit deemed Miami a proper plaintiff under the law; the defendant banks contend that the FHA protects individual borrowers who feel direct harm when discriminated against, and not cities like Miami, whose harm is more attenuated.

In Trinity Lutheran, a Missouri constitutional provision is challenged by a church seeking to participate in a public grant program to receive funds for playground resurfacing. The constitutional provision forbids state treasury money from issuing to churches, but Trinity argues that proscription runs afoul of the Free Exercise and Equal Protection clauses when, as here, the state funds at issue are meant for an entirely securely purpose.

Murr v. Wisconsin regards the Takings Clause, in the context of a contentious dispute between Wisconsin homeowners and the state over a zoning ordinance that rendered a portion of the owners' land largely unusable and unsaleable. At issue here particularly is how exactly governing takings jurisprudence, like Penn Central, instructs courts to determine the relevant parcel of land at issue for takings analysis, something the court has long said is quite challenging.

Finally, Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands considers what sorts of designs on garments can qualify for copyright protection. This question requires line drawing between utility and art, and has vexed federal circuit courts, many of which employ divergent factor texts to reach an answer. The result of this ruling will have broad impacts that stretch beyond the garment industry.

Don't forget CLE credit is available for your having listened to the program. Follow the link below. <!-- Weekly Appellate Report Podcast -->


Brian Cardile

Rulings Editor, Podcast Host, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reporter

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