The Supreme Court of the United States announced decisions in five cases today:

Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Ariz., Inc., No. 12-71: Under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), States are required to “accept and use” a uniform “Federal Form” to register voters for federal elections. That Federal Form, in turn, does not require any documented proof of citizenship, but instead requires that the applicant aver under penalty of perjury that he or she is a citizen. Under Arizona law, however, voter-registration officials are required to reject any application for registration, including a Federal Form, if it is not accompanied by documented proof of citizenship. Respondents sought to enjoin the Arizona law, but the District Court granted summary judgment to the State of Arizona on respondents’ pre-emption claim. The Ninth Circuit, in turn, affirmed in part, but, as relevant here, reversed in holding that Arizona’s documentary-proof-of-citizenship requirement was pre-empted by the NVRA. Today, the Court affirmed, holding that 42 U.S.C. §1973gg-4 precludes Arizona from requiring a Federal Form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself.

The Court's decision is available here.

FTC v. Actavis, Inc., No. 12-416: Respondent Solvay Pharmaceuticals obtained a patent for its approved brand-name drug, and subsequently, respondents Actavis and Paddock filed applications for generic drugs modeled after Solvay’s product. Solvay sued Actavis and Paddock for patent infringement, and Actavis and Paddock entered into separate “reverse payment” settlement agreements with Solvay, whereby Actavis and Paddock agreed not to bring their generic drug to market for a specified number of years, and to promote Solvay’s brand-name drug, in exchange for millions of dollars from Solvay. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought suit, alleging that these reverse payment settlements violated antitrust laws. The District Court dismissed the complaint, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, on the basis that as long as the anticompetitive effects of a settlement fall within the scope of the patent’s exclusionary potential, the settlement is immune from antitrust attack. The Court today reversed and remanded, holding that reverse payment settlements such as those at issue here can sometimes violate the antitrust laws.

The Court's decision is available here.

Maracich v. Spears, No. 12-25: Respondents are trial lawyers in South Carolina that obtained the names and addresses of thousands of people from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles in order to find plaintiffs for a lawsuit they had filed against car dealers. Two individuals whose information the lawyers had obtained brought suit against the attorneys for violating the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. §§2721-2725. That federal law prohibits the disclosure of personal information from state departments of motor vehicles, unless the disclosure falls under a specific permitted purpose, one of which permits obtaining such information for use “in connection with” judicial and administrative proceedings, including “investigation in anticipation of litigation.” 18 U.S.C. §2721(b)(4). The District Court held that the use of the information fell within (b)(4)’s litigation exception, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed. The Court today vacated and remanded, holding that an attorney’s solicitation of clients is not a permissible purpose covered by the (b)(4) litigation exception.

The Court's decision is available here.

Salinas v. Texas, No. 12-246: Petitioner Salinas voluntarily answered questions to a police officer investigating a murder without being placed in custody or receiving Miranda warnings. When, however, the officer then asked whether a ballistic test would show the shell casings at the crime scene to match petitioner’s shotgun, the petitioner balked at the question. At petitioner’s subsequent murder trial, prosecutors argued that his reaction to the officer’s question suggested he was guilty. Petitioner objected that the prosecutors’ argument violated the Fifth Amendment, under which “[n]o person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Petitioner was convicted, and his Fifth Amendment claim was rejected by the Texas appellate courts. Today, the Court affirmed, holding that petitioner was required to assert the privilege in order to benefit from it, and that a witness does not do so simply by standing mute.

The Court's decision is available here.

Alleyne v. United States, No. 11-9335: Petitioner Alleyne was charged with using or carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, which carries a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence. That sentence increases to a 7-year minimum “if the firearm is brandished” and a 10-year minimum “if the firearm is discharged.” The jury form only indicated that petitioner had used or carried the firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and did not indicate that the firearm had been “brandished.” When the presentence report then recommended a 7-year sentence, petitioner objected on the basis that because the jury had not found beyond a reasonable doubt that the firearm was brandished, raising his mandatory minimum sentence based on the judge’s finding of fact would violate his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. The District Court overruled this objection, relying upon Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545 (2002), which held that judicial fact-finding that increases mandatory minimum sentences for a crime is permissible under the Sixth Amendment. The Fourth Circuit affirmed. Today, the Court vacated the Fourth Circuit’s judgment and overruled Harris, holding that any fact that, by law, increases the penalty for a crime is an “element” that must be submitted to the jury and found beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Court's decision is available here.