With the arrival of Labor Day came the unofficial end of summer, and a few weeks later its official conclusion. The arrival of fall brought on a new appellate court season.
After a summer break the Court of Appeals in Albany is again hearing oral arguments, as are the Appellate Divisions for the First and Second Departments in New York City. And on Monday, October 1--the traditional first Monday in October--the United States Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments in its new Term.
The Court will begin its first week hearing arguments in six cases covering a wide range of issues such as maritime jurisdiction, an interpretation of the Clean Water Act, and the circumstances under which compensation must be paid under the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause.
The case attracting the most attention this first week is Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, in which the Court addresses whether corporations are immune from tort liability under the Alien Tort Statute (28 U.S.C. § 1350) for violations of the law of nations, such as torture, extrajudicial executions, or genocide.
One development which has received considerable attention is the declining number of cases decided by the Supreme Court. By one count, last Term, which ran from October 2011 to June 2012, the Court issued only 64 full, signed opinions, purportedly the small number in at least the past 50 years. Because the Court continues to address certiorari petitions as the Term progresses, it is too soon to know whether the number of cases will change this Term.