This week we highlight petitions pending before the Supreme Court that address, among other things, how to determine the ownership of a tax refund paid to an affiliated group, the test that governs the assertion of legislative privilege in a racial-gerrymandering case under Shaw v. Reno, and the proper standard for successor liability for unpaid ERISA pension obligations.
The petitions of the week are:
Issues: (1) What test – in a case under Shaw v. Reno and its progeny alleging that a city council racially gerrymandered new district boundaries when the central question is whether legislators drew boundaries with a predominant racial intent – governs the assertion of legislative privilege by state and local officials, especially in light of the tension between the Supreme Court’s decisions in United States v. Gillock and Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp.; (2) whether, if the privilege is qualified, it is overcome by direct and circumstantial evidence that race was likely the predominant factor in drawing boundary lines, including statements by key decision-makers that a district was created to include a specific racial makeup, expert opinion that the boundaries were based on race, and procedural irregularities in the redistricting process; and (3) whether, even if a legislative privilege prevents discovery, Hunt v. Cromartie precludes summary judgment on a Shaw claim in the face of such direct and circumstantial evidence of racial intent because legislative motivation is a factual question for a jury to resolve.
Issue: What is the proper standard for successor liability for unpaid Employee Retirement Income Security Act pension obligations?
Issue: Whether courts should determine ownership of a tax refund paid to an affiliated group based on the federal common law “Bob Richards rule,” as three circuits hold, or based on the law of the relevant state, as four circuits hold.