New York Times
By Adam Liptak
October 3, 2016
A short-handed Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from the Obama administration to reconsider a major immigration decision, dooming for now President Obama’s plan to spare millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The court also declined to hear more than 1,000 petitions seeking review in cases that had piled up during the justices’ summer break. Among them were ones concerning what college athletes may earn, the Washington Redskins’ trademarks and a campaign finance investigation in Wisconsin. Adhering to its custom, the court did not give reasons for turning down the cases.
The request that the justices rehear the immigration case came after a deadlock in the case in June. The 4 to 4 tie left in place an appeals court ruling that had blocked Mr. Obama’s plan, which also would have allowed the undocumented immigrants to work legally in the United States.
The Supreme Court has been without its standard nine members since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. The tie vote in the case, United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, set no precedent. The court did not disclose how the justices had voted.
The administration’s petition seeking rehearing said a matter of such importance should be resolved by a nine-member Supreme Court, which “should be the final arbiter of these matters through a definitive ruling.”
The administration acknowledged that the immigration case was at an early stage and could again reach the court in a later appeal. But the petition said there was a “strong need for definitive resolution by this court at this stage.”
The Supreme Court also declined to hear a case about whether the N.C.A.A. violated federal antitrust laws by restricting what college athletes can earn.
Last year, the federal appeals court in California issued a decision that managed to make both sides unhappy. The court ruled against the association, saying its amateurism rule violated the antitrust laws.
But the court went on to say that the association may restrict colleges from compensating athletes beyond offering scholarships and a few thousand dollars for “the cost of attendance.” The appeals court rejected a trial judge’s proposed alternative that colleges be allowed to pay athletes up to $5,000 a year in deferred compensation.
Both sides sought Supreme Court review in N.C.A.A v. O’Bannon, No. 15-1388 and O’Bannon v. N.C.A.A., No. 15-1167.
The case was brought by Ed O’Bannon, a former basketball star at the University of California, Los Angeles, and other current and former college football and basketball players. They sought compensation for the commercial use of their names and images in video games, archival recording and the like.
The N.C.A.A. responded that college athletes were amateurs and that the distinctive nature of college sports would be destroyed by turning a scholastic model into a professional one.
The association also sought review of a related appeals court ruling. The association said the First Amendment allowed use of the athletes’ names and likenesses without compensation. The lower courts are divided on the legal standards for when commercial uses of celebrities’ images require payments to them.
The Supreme Court also turned down a petition from the Washington Redskins, who sought review of a decision denying them federal trademark protection. But the basic question in that case — whether a federal law on disparaging trademarks violates the First Amendment — is already before the justices in a case they agreed to hear on Thursday, Lee v. Tam, No. 15-1293.
On Monday, the justices refused to hear the Redskins case, Pro-Football Inc. v. Blackhorse, No. 15-1311, probably because it is still pending before a federal appeals court.
The Supreme Court also declined to hear a campaign finance case arising from an investigation into campaign spending in Wisconsin.
Last year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court shut down an investigation into spending to oppose a 2012 effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. The court also ordered prosecutors to destroy the documents they had gathered.
The Guardian recently disclosed about 1,500 pages of the documents, which seemed to show substantial coordination between candidates and ostensibly independent groups.
The public version of the prosecutors’ request for United States Supreme Court review was heavily redacted but appeared to address two main questions: whether the Wisconsin Supreme Court had been too lax in policing coordination between candidates and independent groups, and whether two State Supreme Court justices who had benefited from campaign spending should have recused themselves.
In a brief urging the United States Supreme Court not to hear the case — Chisholm v. Two Unnamed Petitioners, No. 15-1416 — the state’s attorney general, Brad D. Schimel, said the Wisconsin Legislature had codified the state Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law, meaning that there was nothing to review.
“The people of Wisconsin thus made as clear as they possibly could that they wish to put this unfortunate chapter behind them,” Mr. Schimel wrote.
He added that there had been no need for the two justices, Michael J. Gableman and David T. Prosser, to disqualify themselves. A 2009 Supreme Court decision that required a West Virginia Supreme Court justice to recuse himself from a case involving a campaign supporter, Mr. Schimel wrote, concerned a more extreme potential conflict.
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