Back in Business

It’s the first Monday in October, and that means the Supreme Court of the United States is getting back to the solemn business of protecting defenseless, downtrodden Fortune 500 corporations from the predatory actions of those black-caped, Snidely-Whiplash-mustache-sporting injured people.

We previewed the big FDA preemption case Wyeth v. Levine here. That case will be argued on November 3.

Also on tap (set for argument today, in fact) is Altria Group, Inc. v. Good. The issues in that case are whether the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act expressly preempts a lawsuit alleging that cigarette manufacturers violated Maine’s Unfair Trade Practices Act by fraudulently representing that “light” cigarettes are safer, and whether Federal Trade Commission regulations promulgated under the Act impliedly preempt such claims, even though the FTC has never actually addressed the issue.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit just said no to preemption, a decision that was a veritable no-brainer on the facts of this particular case. The Supreme Court’s ruling will go a very long way toward telling us whether there’s any intellectual honesty left in that venerable institution.

Speaking of intellectual honesty, also up this term is Pleasant Grove v. Summum, previously discussed here and here. When cities open up public parks to monuments bearing the sacred words of majority religions (i.e., the Ten Commandments), must they also allow monuments bearing the sacred words of minority religions (Summum’s Seven Aphorisms, in this case)? The Christians are screaming “NO!” at the top their lungs: “Hey, we believe in talking donkeys and all, but these Summum clowns are just plain NUTS.”

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the cities had turned the parks at issue into public forums and must allow Summum to place their monuments. The court split 6-6 on en banc review, so the panel decision stood. The lunatic fringe Thomas More Law Center represents the Utah cities at issue in their effort to keep their parks closed to “crackpot” religions.

You federal jurisdiction wonks will just love Vaden v. Discover Bank. If the well-pleaded complaint rule causes wicked stirrings in your loins, Vaden is the case for you.

Detailed previews of this term’s cases, along with links to briefs and (when available) oral argument transcripts, are available here courtesy of SCOTUSblog’s SCOTUSwiki.

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