The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday affirmed [opinion, PDF] a lower court decision in Flores-Villar v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] upholding a gender-based distinction in two former sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Justice Elena Kagan took no part in the decision, and the court split 4-4, resulting in the decision [opinion, PDF] by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] being upheld. Petitioner Ruben Flores-Villar had raised a Fifth Amendment equal protection challenge of the two INA provisions, 8 USC § 1401(a)(7) and 8 USC § 1409 [texts], which impose a five-year residence requirement, after the age of 14, on US citizen fathers, but not on US citizen mothers, before they may transmit citizenship to a child born out of wedlock abroad to a non-citizen. The court affirmed Flores-Villar's conviction for being a deported alien found in the US.
The Supreme Court also granted certiorari [order list, PDF] Monday in four cases. In Hall v. United States [docket], the petitioners filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code [11 USC §§ 1201-1231] and subsequently sold their farm for $960,000, incurring a $29,000 capital gains federal income tax. The Ninth Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that petitioners had to pay federal income tax on the gain from the sale of their farm during bankruptcy proceedings. Petitioners argue that the tax should be discharged pursuant to § 1222 of the Bankruptcy Code as a post-petition expense of the bankruptcy estate.
The court granted a limited petition in Gonzalez v. Thaler [docket; cert. petition, PDF] to determine whether there was jurisdiction to issue a certificate of appealability under 28 USC § 2253(c) [text] and adjudicate the petitioner's appeal, and whether the application for a writ of habeas corpus was out of time under 28 USC § 2244(d)(1) [text] due to "the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review." The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] that Gonzalez's petition was time-barred by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) [materials], which establishes a one-year statute of limitations for a state prisoner to file a federal habeas corpus petition. The court will determine whether state or federal definitions apply to Gonzalez's appeal.
The court will also determine whether an appeals court properly upheld [opinion, PDF] a prison sentence imposed by a district court in Setser v. United States [docket; cert. petition, PDF]. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err in imposing a consecutive sentence to be added to the sentence the appellant was already serving for a state drug possession conviction. Setser argues that the district court's sentence was illegal since 18 USC § 3584 [text] does not grant the district court the authority to impose a federal sentence consecutively to an undischarged state sentence.
In Smith v. Louisiana [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will determine whether a Louisiana state court failed to address due process violations present in the petitioner's case. Juan Smith, the petitioner, was convicted on five counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Smith's petition for review was denied by the Supreme Court of Louisiana [official website]. The petitioner argues that violations of prior case law, including Brady v. Maryland, Giglio v. United States and Napue v. Illinois [opinion texts], occurred during the proceedings.