[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF; merit briefs] Wednesday in two cases. In Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha v. Regal-Beloit Corporation [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the court heard arguments on whether the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 [49 USC § 11706] applies to the inland rail transportation of goods in the US that originate out of the country when the shipment involved an extension of the Carriage of Good by Sea Act (COGSA) [46 USC § 30701]. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found [opinion, PDF] that the district court did not consider whether the parties had properly opted out of the Carmack Act, without which the COGSA does not apply. Counsel for the petitioners argued:
From its enactment in 1906 until very recently, it has been settled law for a century that the Carmack Amendment does not apply to the inland leg of an import through shipment. ... [T]he current scope of Carmack is consistent with its historic scope, which had a very limited special application to exports to Canada and Mexico. Other than that, it doesn't apply to foreign trade at all.Counsel for the US government argued as amicus curiae on behalf of petitioners. Counsel for the respondents argued that, "[i]t does not take great mental gymnastics to read the plain language of this statute and resolve it the way the Ninth Circuit did in favor of Respondents."
In Magwood v. Patterson [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the court heard arguments on whether, when a person is resentenced after having obtained federal habeas relief from an earlier sentence, a claim in a federal habeas petition challenging that new sentencing judgment a "second or successive" claim under 28 USC § 2244(b) [text] if the petitioner could have challenged his previous sentence on the same constitutional grounds. The basic issue is whether a defendant can raise a challenge that could have been but was not raised in an earlier habeas petition. The case involves defendant Billy Joe Magwood, on death row in Alabama. Magwood was sentenced to death for murdering a county sheriff. His original death sentence was overturned in 1986, but he was later sentenced to death again. He challenged the second sentence, but the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that his claim should have been raised in the first sentencing. Counsel for Magwood argued Wednesday that, "a petition, as here, that challenges a new death sentence cannot be a second or successive petition for the very simple reason that it challenges a State court judgment that has no - never been covered in a habeas petition before." Counsel for the respondents argued:
You have equitable principles that say when you have two parties, a party has a full and fair opportunity to praise a claim or to litigate. But the other party also has a finality interest. And once you take away your full and fair opportunity by not using it, the other party's interest in finality outweighs. That's what Congress envisioned in AEDPA. That's what this Court envisioned with the abuse of the write [sic] doctrine. That's why we don't allow someone who had a claim previously available that didn't use it to bring it again.