Today’s orders list did not bring any opinions.
I wrote a little about the issues in Sims when the Fifth Circuit forwarded the case in August.
Monday was Veterans Day, and it was also the day of the formal investiture of Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and new Justice Jeff Brown. The oath of office was administered by Justice Scalia. (Some photos are available on the Court’s website at this link.)
The Court has a private conference set for Monday and Tuesday. That makes it more likely that we would see grants of review in next week’s orders.
How can respondents obtain dismissal of a petition for review?
You might have noticed that my version of the orders lists specifies when a petition has been disposed after full briefing was requested, which is something I try to pay attention to. There were two of those this week, even though it was not a conference week. So, as is my habit, I looked into them a little deeper.
It turns out that both were cases in which a respondent, not the petitioner, had moved to dismiss. Both cases had the same respondent, who during the time allotted for its merits brief, chose instead to non-suit the underlying lawsuit (in which it was the plaintiff) and argue that the appeal was moot. The Court granted the motions to dismiss.
That kind of unilateral walk-away settlement seems like a really nice option for a respondent to have. Looking through the rules for Supreme Court practice, I’m not sure the best way for a respondent to obtain that sort of dismissal against the petitioner’s wishes. (( The petitioner here eventually agreed not to oppose the motion. When filed, it was not clear whether it would be opposed. )) A suggestion of mootness could trigger Rule 56.2, which authorizes the Court to grant a moot petition and then dismiss. Rule 56.1 authorizes two notations for petitions that have not been granted: “denied” and “dismissed w.o.j.”, neither of which the Court used here. (From what I can tell, the Court has not actually marked a petition “dismissed w.o.j.” since 2002. It might be time to dust off my draft blog post about our increasingly vestigial petition-history system…)