The Supreme Court’s Regulatory Term

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The Regulatory Review highlights the regulatory decisions from the Supreme Court’s past term.

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The Supreme Court has had a very big year. Decisions from the Court’s most recent term, which ended last month, run the gamut: from health care and patent royalties, to air pollution and Amtrak.

Of course, this term may be remembered best for the Court’s decision to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples. Before the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex couples could marry in 37 states; now that right reaches across the entire United States. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, grants same-sex couples “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

Although less prominent, many of the Court’s other decisions from this past term will have significant impacts on issues of statutory law and regulation. In the past term, the Court handed down opinions upholding key portions of the Affordable Care Act, interpreting the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and permitting the executive branch to decide how to list Jerusalem as a birthplace on U.S. passports, among others.

In this series, The Regulatory Review highlights a variety of the key regulatory decisions from the Supreme Court’s most recent term. We begin with an essay by Jonathan Mincer, a Penn Law alum and former Editor-in-Chief of The Regulatory Review, discussing the Court’s decision in Kimble v. Marvel, upholding a restriction on receiving royalties beyond a patent term’s expiration.

Simplicity Trumps Logical Coherence

July 6, 2015  |  Jonathan Mincer

In Kimble v. Marvel, the Supreme Court has upheld its 50-year-old ban on charging royalties for use of an invention after its patent has expired. In an opinion full of Spiderman references, the Court conceded last month that the ban might stand on as shaky a ground as a spider’s web. Nonetheless, the Court emphasized the ban’s virtue: it is “simplicity itself to apply.”

Dr. Seuss, Amtrak, and Dentists at the Supreme Court

July 7, 2015  |  Brandon Kenney

Dr. Seuss, Amtrak train delays, and North Carolina’s dental licensing board all featured in decisions the Supreme Court handed down during its term that concluded last week. The Court’s regulatory opinions from this past term range from a unanimous decision that Amtrak is sometimes a government entity, to a 5-4 decision that fish are not considered “tangible objects” under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Employers, Whistleblowers, and Polluters at the Supreme Court

July 8, 2015  | Christian Latham

This past term, the Supreme Court decided a considerable number of important regulatory cases, including decisions on environmental policy, whistleblower protections, and the extent to which the courts can review certain administrative actions.

Security Checks, Discrimination, and Jerusalem at the Supreme Court

July 9, 2015  | Grace Knofczynski

The Supreme Court’s past term includes decisions affecting the rights of pregnant women in the workplace, the amount of pay workers can claim when subjected to security checks, the ways that those who feel discriminated in housing can win judicial relief, and the power of the executive branch to resist congressional assertions of authority over foreign policy.

Supreme Court Ruling Preserves Health Insurance Subsidies

July 10, 2015  | Dori Molozanov

Millions of Americans will continue receiving tax credits to help them pay for health insurance following King v. Burwell, which involved a challenge to a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that provides financial assistance to people purchasing insurance through “exchanges” or marketplaces established under the law where individuals can comparison-shop for federally-regulated insurance plans.