Supreme Court Rules on Fisher v. UT Austin

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court

This morning the U.S. Supreme Court issued 5 of 11 remaining decisions for the 2012-13 session.

Most notable case was Fisher v. UT Austin, the affirmative action case: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/fisher-v-university-of-texas-at-austin/

In a 7-1 decision The Fifth Circuit is vacated and remanded. The holding is because the Fifth Circuit did not hold the university to the demanding burden of strict scrutiny articulated in Grutter and Bakke, its decision affirming the district court’s grant of summary judgment was incorrect. There is one dissent. Ginsburg dissents alone. Kagan was recused. Here is the opinion in Fisher: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-345_l5gm.pdf The majority seems to reaffirm that diversity is a compelling interest, if only because that rule was not challenged by the plaintiffs in the case.
“The reviewing court must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.”
The other decision were:
Vance v. Ball State University 5-4 The Seventh Circuit is affirmed. The Court holds that an employer is a supervisor for vicarious liabilty under Title VII only if she has the power given by the employer to take tangible employment actions against the victim. The Court rejects the EEOC interpretation of who counts as a supervisor. Here is the decision.
Mutual Pharmaceuticals v. Bartlett 5-4 The First Circuit is reversed. The Court holds that design defect claims under state law that turn on the adequacy of a drug’s warnings are preempted by federal law under PLIVA. Here is the opinion in Bartlett:http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-142_8njq.pdf
U.S. v. Kebodoeux: 7-2 The Fifth Circuit is reversed and remanded. Registration requirement under SORNA as applied to Kebodeaux falls within the scope of Congress’s authority under the Necessary and Proper Clause. SORNA is the Sex Offender and Registration Notification Act. Here is the opinion in Kebodeaux, Here is the SORNA case opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-418_7k8b.pdf
UT Southwestern v. Nassar: 5-4 The Court holds that Title VII retaliation claims must be proved according to traditional principles of “but for” causation, not the lesser causation standards stated in the law. The question in Nassar was whether a provision of Title VII that permits a plaintiff to win by showing that discrimination was a “motivating factor” in an employment decision, also applies to claims of retaliation. The Court holds that it does not, so the plaintiff has to meet the higher burden of proving that the employer would not have taken the challenged action (say, termination) if the employee had not filed an EEOC complaint. So Nassar is another 5-4 win for employers. Here is the opinion in Nassar: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-484_o759.pdf

The court will be back tomorrow morning at 7 am PT with more opinions for the session.

Editor’s Note: This post was compiled using information and commentary from http:scotusblog.com