Supreme Court Activity

Here is an update on recent activity at the Supreme Court in cases decided by the Federal Circuit. With respect to granted cases, since our last update there is no new activity to report. With respect to petitions, two new petitions have been filed, both in patent cases. In addition, five amicus briefs were submitted in a case presenting a challenge to the Chevron doctrine. Also, the government waived its right right to respond in a pro se case. Here are the details.

Granted Cases

No new activity.

Petition Cases

New Petitions

Two new petitions were filed with the Court. 

In PersonalWeb Technologies LLC v. Google LLC, the petitioner asked the Court to review the following question:

  • “How should courts determine whether a patent for a computer-implemented invention is patent-eligible because it ‘improve[s] the functioning of the computer itself’ or ‘effect[s] an improvement in any other technology or technical field’ under Alice?”

In Ikorongo Texas LLC v.  Samsung Electronics Co., the petitioner asked the Court to consider two questions:

  1. “Can a district court transfer a matter to a statutorily proscribed district based on expressly disregarding undisputed facts creating the proscription;” and
  2. “Should Gulf Oil Corporation v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501 (1946), be overruled, particularly in light of stronger technological abilities shifting the reasonable focus for determining what is convenient for parties and witnesses?“

Amicus Briefs

Five amicus briefs were filed in support of the petition in Buffington v. McDonough, which presents a challenge to the Chevron doctrine and its use in veterans cases.

  • Concerned Veterans for America Foundation submitted an amicus brief urging the Court to grant the petition and overrule the Chevron doctrine. According to the brief, “Chevron provided the pathway for unelected administrative officials housed within a warren of extraconstitutional administrative bodies to enforce unpopular policies” and continues to cause “concrete and particularized real-world harms to ordinary citizens, like [petitioner].” Additionally, the brief argued that Chevron deference “burdens businesses and restricts individual liberty, without fair notice of what the law prohibits or requires.”
  • Another amicus brief filed by five veteran advocacy organizations argued that the Federal Circuit’s opinion deferred to the VA’s interpretation of the relevant statute without considering the pro-veteran canon. The brief explained that “[t]he Federal Circuit’s application of the pro-veteran canon . . . has long been inconsistent and has sown confusion.” According to the brief, Supreme Court intervention is necessary to “restore the canon to its rightful place among the traditional tools of statutory interpretation—at step 1 of Chevron.”
  • The states of Indiana, Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia submitted a brief as amici curiae in support of the petitioner. The brief argued that “this case presents an excellent vehicle for the Court either to affirm the only lawful approach to Chevronde novo statutory interpretation as to the range of policymaking authority Congress has delegated using all available canons—or overrule Chevron altogether.”
  • Four Republican members of the United States Senate—Senators Tom Cotton, Marsha Blackburn, Kevin Cramer, and Ted Cruz—submitted a brief arguing that the Federal Circuit’s analysis “departed from the plain language of the statute and improperly placed the agency’s view ahead of the established rule that any statutory ambiguities must be resolved in favor of the veteran.” According to the Senators, the Federal Circuit decision “strikes at the core of the separation of powers” and ultimately “calls into question Chevron’s fundamental legitimacy.”
  • The Cato Institute and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Inc. filed a brief arguing for Supreme Court review of Chevron. The brief stated that the Chevron doctrine “violates basic principles of due process of law.” In addition, the brief asserted that inconsistent application of the doctrine has created confusion amongst courts and therefore warrants review.

Waiver of Right to Respond

The United States waived its right to respond to the petition in Maxberry v. United States, which was filed by a pro se petitioner.