Supreme Court Decision Syllabus (SCOTUS Podcast?-logo

Supreme Court Decision Syllabus (SCOTUS Podcast?


The Supreme Court decision syllabus, read without personal commentary. See: Wheaton and Donaldson v. Peters and Grigg, 33 U.S. 591 (1834) and United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337. Photo by: Davi Kelly. Founded by RJ Dieken. Now hosted by Jake Leahy. *Note this podcast is for informational and educational purposes only. Hosted by a non-attorney.*


United States


The Supreme Court decision syllabus, read without personal commentary. See: Wheaton and Donaldson v. Peters and Grigg, 33 U.S. 591 (1834) and United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337. Photo by: Davi Kelly. Founded by RJ Dieken. Now hosted by Jake Leahy. *Note this podcast is for informational and educational purposes only. Hosted by a non-attorney.*




Dupree v. Younger (1983 Post-Trial Motion)

In Dupree v. Younger, the Supreme Court addressed whether a post-trial motion of a purely legal issue that was resolved at summary judgment, requires a post-trial motion to be preserved on appeal. Kevin Younger sued Neil Dupree, who was a correctional officer under Section 1983. Dupree moved for summary judgment alleging that Younger had failed to exhaust administrative remedies. The district court denied the motion. After Younger prevailed at trial by obtaining $700,000 in damages, Dupree appealed alleging the district court improperly dismissed the suit. Under Fourth Circuit precedent, that court ruled against Younger reasoning that he was required to file a Rule 50 post-trial motion to preserve the issue on appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, finding that pure questions of law resolved in summary judgment do not require a post-trial motion to preserve the issue for appeal. The Court writes in the syllabus: "And it makes sense: Factual development at trial will not change the district court’s pretrial answer to a purely legal question, so a post-trial motion requirement would amount to an empty exercise." Read by Jake Leahy.


Sackett v. EPA (Clean Water Act)

In Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, the Supreme Court examines the scope the terms "waters" under the Clean Water Act. The EPA ordered the Sackets, who purchased property in Idaho, to restore the property after the family had backfilled it with dirt. The EPA claimed that putting dirt on their property violated the Clean Water Act, and threatened the family with $40,000 in penalties daily. The Sacketts claimed that the Clean Water Act did not apply as "waters of the United states" refers only to permanent bodies of water, such as streams, rivers, lakes, and adjacent wetlands that have a continuous surface connection to those bodies of water. The EPA asked the Court for a broader interpretation of the statute. The Court ruled against the EPA, reasoning that there must be a clear connection between wetlands and traditionally navigable waters to obtain jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Read by guest host Jeff Barnum.


Tyler v. Hennepin County (Takings Clause)

In Tyler v. Hennepin County, Chief Justice Roberts writes for the majority, reversing the Eighth Circuit. The District Court and Circuit Court had rejected a taxpayer's claim that Hennepin County keeping the $25,000 surplus after a tax sale violated both the Takings Clause under the Fifth Amendment and the prohibition on excessive fines under the Eighth Amendment. The Court reversed, finding that the state is not entitled to recover the surplus after a property is sold after the owner's failure to pay real estate taxes.


Calcutt v. FDIC (Administrative Review)

The Supreme Court reversed the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, reasoning that the Court of Appeals must reverse the administrative agency if it reaches the same outcome for a different reason. Once an administrative agency has made an error of law, the decision must be remanded back to the administrative agency. Per Curiam. Read by Jake Leahy.


Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith (Copyright Fair Use)

In Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith et al., the Supreme Court ruled that the commercial licensing of a derivative artwork by Andy Warhol, based on a copyrighted photograph taken by Lynn Goldsmith, did not qualify as fair use. The case involved the licensing of Warhol's "Orange Prince" image. This well-known image includes a silkscreen portrait of musician Prince, which was derived from Goldsmith's photograph. The Court found that despite adding new expression, meaning, or message to the photograph, the purpose and character of the use were not sufficiently distinct from the original work. Held: the “purpose and character” of the Warhol' use of Goldsmith’s original photograph in commercially licensing Orange Prince to Condé Nast does not favor Warhol's fair use defense to copyright infringement. Justice Sotomayor delivered the Opinion of the Court. Justice Kagan filed a dissenting Opinion, which Chief Justice Roberts joined. Read by guest host Jeff Barnum.


Ohio Adjutant General’s Dept. v. FLRA (Labor)

In Ohio Adjutant General's Department v. FLRA, the Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS) grants jurisdiction to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) over labor disputes involving state National Guards when they hire and supervise dual-status technicians in their civilian roles. These technicians are both employed by the Ohio National Guard, as well as the Army and the Air Force. The Court's decision was based on three main reasons, 1.) statutory terms, 2.) the authority granted to the Ohio Adjutant General, and 3.) the historical precedent of federal agency-employee relations. Justice Thomas delivered the Opinion of the Court (7-2), Justice Alito filed a dissent, in which Justice Gorsuch joined. Read by guest host Jeff Barnum.


Gonzalez v. Google (Section 230)

On the same day, the Court released its decision in Twitter v. Taamneh. The Court largely disposed of the claims in Twitter, stating that Taamneh had failed to state a claim under the federal statute. Here, the Court in its per curiam opinion, writes that it need not consider the veracity of the Section 230 claims because Twitter's reasoning requires disposal of the claims here. Read by Jake Leahy.


Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi (Patent)

The patent requires certain particularity, such that any person skilled in the craft would be able to manufacture, make, construct, or use the invention. The Court held that Amgen's patent failed to provide the detail required to protect its interest, in part, because the patent applies to a wide range of antibodies and requires a certain level of trial/error for a skilled person to replicate it. A pharmaceutical patent case. Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the unanimous Court. Read by Jake Leahy. Contact us at


Twitter v. Taamneh (Aiding and Abetting ISIS)

Taamneah brought suit against social media companies, alleging that the companies were "aiding and abetting" ISIS by providing a platform and recommendations to the companies. HELD: The social media companies did not knowingly aid and abet ISIS, and therefore, no claim can be brought under the Anti-Terrorism Act.


Polselli v. IRS (Tax Summons)

Chief Justice Roberts writes for the majority in this case: "As an old joke goes: 'I believe we should all pay taxes with a smile. I tried but they wanted cash.'" The IRS is authorized by statute to issue a summons to third parties to aid in the "collection" of an assessment against a taxpayer. There are certain notice requirements and exceptions to the requirements as they pertain to summonses. The question presented is whether the statute requires notice when a summons is issued to a third-party, or if notice is only required to the taxpayer in an account where the taxpayer holds a beneficial interest. HELD: The exception to the notice requirement in §7609(c)(2)(D)(i) does not only apply if the delinquent taxpayer has a legal interest in summons issued by the IRS.


Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico v. Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, Inc. (Sovereign Immunity)

"The question presented is whether the statute categorically abrogates (legalspeak for eliminates) any sovereign immunity the board enjoys from legal claims. We hold it does not. Under long-settled law, Congress must use unmistakable language to abrogate sovereign immunity. Nothing in the statute creating the board meets that high bar." (First paragraph of Justice Kagan's majority opinion). The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) was enacted in 2016 to address Puerto Rico's financial crisis, established the Board as an entity within the territorial government of Puerto Rico. The Court held that nothing in PROMESA explicitly abrogates the Board's immunity, and Congress must clearly state if its intent to do so. The Court emphasized that PROMESA does not provide for suits against the Board or Puerto Rico, nor does it create a cause of action. Although certain provisions in PROMESA reference judicial review and declaratory relief, they do not indicate a general abrogation of the Board's immunity. The Court concluded that the statutory language and the Board's protections are consistent with the retention of sovereign immunity. Read by Jake A. Leahy. Feel free to shoot the podcast an email at


National Pork Producers v. Ross (Dormant Commerce Clause)

In National Pork Producers v. Ross, the Supreme Court reviewed whether California's Proposition 12 regulatory requirements relating to conditions for in-state pork sales unconstitutionally interfered with out-of-state businesses in violation of the dormant commerce clause. From Justice Gorsuch's majority opinion: "Assuredly, under this Court’s dormant Commerce Clause decisions, no State may use its laws to discriminate purposefully against out-of-state economic interests. But the pork producers do not suggest that California’s law offends this principle. Instead, they invite us to fashion two new and more aggressive constitutional restrictions on the ability of States to regulate goods sold within their borders. We decline that invitation. While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list." Read by guest host Ryan Barnum.


Ciminelli v. United States (Wire Fraud)

In Ciminelli v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Circuit's right-to-control theory of wire fraud cannot be used as the basis for a conviction under federal fraud statutes. Louis Ciminelli was convicted of federal wire fraud for his involvement in a scheme to rig the bid process for state-funded development projects under Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Government relied on the right-to-control theory, which establishes wire fraud by depriving a victim of potentially valuable economic information. The conviction turned on whether the Second Circuit's established "righto-to-control" theory is sufficient to establish federal wire fraud. The Supreme Court held that the right to valuable economic information is not a traditional property interest and therefore cannot form the basis for a wire fraud conviction under the relevant statutes. Read by Jake A. Leahy.


Percoco v. United States (Jury Instructions)

In Percoco v. United States, the Supreme Court considered whether a private citizen with influence over government decision-making can be convicted for wire fraud on the theory that he or she deprived the public of its “intangible right of honest services.” Joseph Percoco, former Executive Deputy Secretary to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, was charged with conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud. Percoco accepted payments while on hiatus from government service to assist a real-estate development company (while he was running Governor Cuomo's re-election campaign for eight months). The trial court instructed the jury based on the Second Circuit's 1982 decision in Margiotta, which held that a private person can commit honest-services fraud if they dominate and control government decisions. The Supreme Court ruled that instructing the jury based on Margiotta was an error, stating that the Margiotta theory was overly vague and lacked sufficient clarity. Reversed and remanded. Read by Jake A. Leahy.


Santos-Zacaria v. Garland (Immigration / Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies)

In Santos-Zacaria v. Garland, the Supreme Court reviewed two questions. First, whether §1252(d)(1) is jurisdictional; and second, whether a non-citizen is required to request reconsideration of an adverse board action to fully exhaust administrative remedies under the law. HELD: Santos-Zacaria is correct and the Fifth Circuit was incorrect to find that §1252(d)(1) is jurisdictional. The statute in question is not jurisdictional, as Congress did not clearly demonstrate that it intended to make the statute jurisdictional. Second, the law does not require non-citizens to request discretionary forms of review, such as asking a Board to reconsider its ruling, because the law only requires the exhaustion of remedies as "right," while discretionary actions involve the discretion of the administrative agencies. Vacated in part and remanded. Read the entire opinion here. Read by Jake A. Leahy.


MOAC Mall Holdings LLC v. Transform Holdco LLC (Bankruptcy Jurisdiction)

Section 363(m) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code is not a jurisdictional provision. Courts should not construe a statute to be jurisdictional unless clearly stated. A jurisdictional provisions puts a limit on the jurisdiction of federal courts. Guest recorded by Jeff Barnum.


Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States (Foreign Immunity)

Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. (Halkbank) vs. the United States involves the criminal prosecution against Halkbank for evading American economic sanctions against Iran. Halkbank claims immunity, as an instrumentality of a foreign state under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA). The Supreme Court held that the District Court has jurisdiction over this criminal prosecution of Halkbank, that the FSIA's comprehensive scheme governing claims of immunity in civil actions against foreign states, and their instrumentalities does not cover criminal cases. The Court concluded that the FSIA's provisions extend only to the civil context. Guest recorded by Jeff Barnum.


Wilkins v. United States (Quiet Title Act)

In Wilkins v. United States, the Supreme Court addressed a dispute between property owners in rural Montana and the government regarding a road easement. The government claimed that the easement included public access, while the property owners disagreed. The property owners sued the government under the Quiet Title Act, but the government argued that their claim was barred by a 12-year time limit in the Act. The Court held that the time limit was a nonjurisdictional claims-processing rule and not a jurisdictional bar. It concluded that the Act's text and context did not indicate a clear statement of jurisdictional consequences. The Court also determined that previous Supreme Court decisions did not definitively interpret the relevant statute as jurisdictional. Justice Sotomayor delivered the majority opinion, joined by Justices Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett, and Jackson. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. Syllabus read by guest reader Jeff Barnum. Feel free to contact the show with any feedback you have to


New York v. New Jersey (Interstate Compact)

New York and New Jersey entered into a compact in 1953 to establish the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor to conduct regulatory and law enforcement activities at the Port, and in 2018, New Jersey sought to withdraw from the Compact, resulting in New York filing a bill of complaint in this Court. HELD: Despite New York's opposition, New Jersey is permitted to withdraw from the Waterfront Commission Compact. Recorded by Jeff Barnum.


Axon Enterprises v. FTC (Administrative Jurisdiction)

Michelle Cochran and Axon Enterprise each filed a federal district court lawsuit, challenging the constitutionality of the agency proceedings against them in separate enforcement actions initiated in the SEC and the FTC. Both suits were initially dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, but the Fifth Circuit disagreed as to the SEC question, finding that Cochran's claim would not receive "meaningful judicial review" in a court of appeals, was "wholly collateral to the Exchange Act's statutory-review scheme," and fell "outside the SEC's expertise." The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Axon's constitutional challenges to the FTC proceeding. HELD: District court's continue to have jurisdiction over federal questions arising from constitutional challenges, notwisthstanding the Securities Exchange Act and Federal Trade Commission Act.