(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Supreme Court Howard Bashman was, this morning, kind enough to tell one of his many fans that the site with the Supreme Court predictions is this one. It's nice that one person, at least, is interested. So, in that spirit, here is the second installment, covering the cases to be argued on Tues Oct. 8 (first installment was here):

FCC v. Nextwave When a company goes into bankruptcy, its creditors can't just run into the office and repo its stuff; bankruptcy law has orderly processes and special rules to govern the divvying up of the debtor's stuff, and/or providing that the debtor gets to keep its stuff during the course of the bankruptcy proceeding. So, remember a few years ago when the government (through the FCC) auctioned off some wave frequencies? This case is about whether, when a company that has successfully bid to obtain a communication license enters bankruptcy still owing money to the FCC, the FCC can simply cancel the license and sell it to somebody else. Or, on the other hand, does the license have to get treated like everything else in bankruptcy, as the DC Circuit essentially held? Decision of the DC Circuit is here. This is one of those many cases where, if the Congress doesn't like the outcome, it can change the law. The case could easily come out either way, but because Bankruptcy Law is a behemoth that swallows up everything in its path, my prediction is: AFFIRM

Barnhart v. Peabody Coal. The Sixth Circuit, in an unpublished decision, held that where the Social Security Administration was supposed to "assign" coal miners to mine operators for purposes of making the operators responsible for benefit payments by a certain date in 1993, according to statute, and the SSA didn't complete the assignment process by that time, the SSA can't now make any more assignments. A high potential that this case will get bogged down in procedural/jurisdictional stuff. Prediction: not only that it's hard to imagine a more boring case about the usually-interesting topic of coal miners, but that the S.Ct. will: REVERSE (in fact, a good candidate for "first opinion on the merits issued in November or early December, unanimous, with the writing-Justice being quietly disgruntled about having been given such a weenie assignment" – but you never know).

By the way, things start to get interesting with the next installment -- including the Eldred case. Coming soon.

UPDATE: Wait, this won't do at all: the Supreme Court is messing with my contest, in that I see from their website they have made some changes to the October argument schedule since I downloaded it earlier this summer. Miller-El v. Cockrell has been moved to the second week in October, and the Ford Motor Co. class action case (on which I have, in contrast to some other cases, educated thoughts -- hint: the answer may well be "Vacated because of a lack of appellate jurisdiction") has been moved up to the first day. Anyway, I've got plenty of time to get my predictions in order before the Term starts, as do you if you want to play along.

posted by sam 8:50 AM 0 comments


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