On June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court released 5 opinions on several important contested cases involving civil service, state labor laws, child custody, and gambling, with several high-profile cases involving abortion, gun rights, and religion remaining pending.
Yesterday, specifically, opinions were released on the following cases: Golan v. Saada; Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas; American Hospital Association v. Becerra; Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana; and Arizona v. City and County of San Francisco.
Golan v. Saada: more discretion with child custody and international cases
The Golan v. Saada case deals with international custody and particularly analyzes The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international agreement dating back to 1980 that serves to analyze international child abduction in domestic litigation. The convention states that children wrongfully removed from their country of origin must be repatriated in order for the legal dispute to continue in their home nation. In this case, Golan v. Saada pits American Narkis Golan and Italian Isacco Saada, who married in 2015 and had a son known as B.A.S. in the lawsuit.
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Saada was physically abusive to Golan throughout the couple’s marriage, eventually prompting her to take B.A.S. to the United States for a wedding. When she did not return, Saada went to federal court, seeking to compel B.A.S.’s return to Italy under the convention,” reads a SCOTUSblog analysis.
When she did not return, Saada went to a Federal Court to force B.A.S. to return to Italy under the agreement,” reads a SCOTUSblog analysis.
In 2020, despite the trial court ruling that the child could be exposed to serious psychological harm, it was ruled that B.A.S. must return to Italy under a strict regime of supervised visitation, therapy and parenting classes for Saada in order to reduce the risks to the child.
However, Golan appealed to SCOTUS, which agreed to intervene in the case. The Supreme Court’s opinion was unanimous and was delivered by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It reads that the justices decided to remand to the trial court to reevaluate whether B.A.S. should be returned to Italy and under what security measures if that is the decision.
Sotomayor also clarified that Federal Courts are not necessarily required to consider palliative measures when refusing to return a child to his or her country of origin because it would put the child at risk of physical or psychological abuse.
According to Bloomberg Law, the justices sided, in this case, with the mother for preventing the child’s return to Italy for the time being. It is now up to the District Court to determine whether the custody case remains in the United States or goes to the European country.
Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas: bingo continues!
This case is a long-standing dispute between the Tigua Tribe of El Paso and the state of Texas over gambling, particularly, electronic bingo.
According to the 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Tigua tribe can legally hold electronic bingo games at its casino located in the Lower Valley because federal law allows gambling on tribal lands that is not prohibited in Texas. And bingo is legal in the Texan state.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled against the Tigua tribe in April 2020, but now SCOTUS remanded the case back to the lower court to review its precedent and reconsider this case in the correct light.
“In this case, Texas contends that Congress expressly ordained that all of its gaming laws should be treated as surrogate federal law enforceable on the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Reservation (the Tiguas tribe’s formal name),” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion. “In the end, however, we find no evidence Congress endowed state law with anything like the power Texas claims.”
American Hospital Association v. Becerra: hospitals circumvent cutbacks
In a unanimous ruling, the justices decided to overturn the “illegal cuts” made by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) against federal hospitals between 2018-2019. This would give rise to the possibility for hospitals to collect $3.2 billion in back payments from the 340B program.
“The high court said that the cuts, which took effect during the Trump administration, were illegal because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not first survey the hospitals’ drug acquisition costs before making the cuts, which the justices said violates protections against varying payment rates for some hospitals,” reads a Heathleaders analysis. “Wednesday’s ruling overturns a federal appeals court ruling in favor of HHS and sends the case back to the lower court for further review. However, SCOT offered no potential remedies for the dispute.”
Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana: Californian companies celebrate
In this case, the Court ruled that California employees cannot use a state law that allows them to sue their employers on behalf of the state to circumvent prior litigation agreements signed between the employees and the company.
The Court ruled against Angie Moriana, who sued Viking River Cruises, Inc. for failing to pay her last paycheck on time after she quit her job with the company. Viking River argued that Moriana could not sue because she had signed a private litigation agreement with the company.
The law in question, referred to as PAGA for short, allows employees to sue companies for violations of the state’s labor codes and keep a quarter of the money in legal redress. Since 2014, the number of class action lawsuits, brought through PAGA, has increased substantially.
The Court’s decision, which passed by an 8-1 margin, means that employees who have litigation agreements cannot bring a class action lawsuit under PAGA.
Arizona v. City and County of San Francisco: the justices do not take the case
The Supreme Court decided to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Arizona and a dozen other Republican states that sought to uphold the “public charge” immigration rule, which was created during the Trump administration. The Court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit is a partial victory for the Biden White House, which stopped enforcing the immigration rule in 2021.
The “public charge” standard is used in immigration law to qualify an immigrant as ineligible for a Green Card if the government deems that the applicant will rely heavily on certain government welfare programs.
In a brief clarification, the Court determined that it cannot take the case because it does not believe that the states have a right to bring this specific claim. Although the Court also made clear that the case “raise a host of important questions” about the legality of Biden’s decision not to enforce the law and whether the states have standing to intervene in these types of disputes. For his part, Chief Justice John Roberts concluded that the court was right to dismiss the litigation.