When the U.S. Supreme Court convened last week for its 2013-14 term, Kansas will be an active participant on its docket.
Kansas is involved in 11 of the 53 cases currently pending on the Court’s docket, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.
“We are fully engaged in protecting our state’s interests in matters before the nation’s highest court,” Schmidt said. “Kansas has a strong stake in the outcome of several cases that will directly affect us.”
The state’s most active role was Oct. 16 when the Court heard arguments surrounding the 2005 murder of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction in the case, and the U.S. Supreme Court will review that decision. The case is Kansas v. Cheever.
Kansas is a party in a second case scheduled for argument Dec. 10. In that matter, Kansas and several other states sued the United States Environmental Protection Agency to block new air-quality regulations that were imposed without due process of law. The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., agreed with Kansas, and the Supreme Court has agreed to review the matter. The case is EPA v. EME Homer City Generation.
In nine other cases, Kansas has joined in a “friend of the court” brief to help influence the outcome of the litigation even though the state is not itself a party. Those cases are:
• Madigan v. Levin. The Court will decide the procedure that a plaintiff must follow to successfully bring an age-discrimination lawsuit against a state or local government employer. Kansas is urging an outcome that strengthens the state’s ability to defend its treasury against such lawsuits.
• Burt v. Titlow. The Court will decide issues related to federal habeas corpus actions. Kansas is urging an outcome that streamlines such actions.
• Bond v. United States. The Court will decide whether the federal government, by implementing an international treaty, can encroach on a state’s power to enact and enforce criminal laws. Kansas is urging that the federal government not be allowed to do so.
• Mississippi v. AU Optronics. The Court will decide whether a federal law governing class action lawsuits limits the ability of state attorneys general to bring actions in the public interest. Kansas is urging that state suits not be limited by the federal law.
• Town of Greece v. Galloway. The Court will decide what limits apply to prayers that open legislative sessions. Kansas is urging that traditional opening prayers, such as those used in the Kansas Senate and House of Representatives, continue to be allowed.
• Burrage v. United States. The Court will decide what showing of causation is required under a federal law that holds illegal drug dealers responsible for the deaths of those who use their drugs. Kansas enacted a similar law earlier this year, and the state will be defending that law.
• Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Country. The Court will decide the extent to which Indian tribes may build casinos outside the boundaries of reservations. Kansas is urging that no off-reservation casinos be allowed.
• White v. Woodall. The Court will decide additional issues related to federal habeas corpus actions. Kansas is urging an outcome that streamlines such actions.
• McCullen v. Coakley. The Court will decide whether a Massachusetts law that prohibits some, but not all, people from speaking within a buffer zone outside an abortion clinic violates the free-speech guarantee of the First Amendment. Kansas is urging that the government not be allowed to pick and choose who may speak in a circumstance like this. The case has not yet been scheduled for oral argument.
Schmidt said he expects Kansas to be involved in additional cases as the Supreme Court term unfolds and the Court agrees to review additional matters.