Supreme Court

We Have An Opinion (from SCOTUS)

The Supreme Court issues its first OT2018 decision in an argued case.


This morning, while most reporters were focused on the midterm election, a hearty cadre of Supreme Court reporters made their way through the rain to the Supreme Court for the first "decision day" of the term.

The Court issued one decision today, a unanimous opinion in Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido, in which the Court rejected the fire district's attempt to get out from under the requirements of the Age Discrimination in Empliyment Act (ADEA). The opinion, by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is short and to the point, concluding that the ADEA provides political subdivisions no relief. Under the plain text of the act, the ADEA applies to "employers," defined to include those with 20 or more employees, their agents, and States and their political subdivisions. While one might think Congress would want to exempt at least some political subdivisions, such as those with fewer than 20 employees, that's not what Congress did in the ADEA.

As Bloomberg Law's Kimberly Robinson notes, this is the third year in a row that Justice Ginsburg has authored the first opinion of the term in an argued case. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas earned that distinction in OT2015 and OT2014 respectively.

As this case was argued on the first day of the term, Justice Kavanaugh did not participate.

NEXT: Exciting Free Speech Event at the Scalia Law School Next Wednesday, Nov. 14

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  1. Sure, but what does this opinion mean for the midterms?

  2. The law seems so clear how did this case make all the way to the Supreme Court?

    1. It’s interesting, five courts of appeals that considered this issue before said that the law only applied to political subdivisions with at least 20 employees. The Ninth Circuit created a circuit split by holding the other way, and a unanimous Supreme Court agreed with the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation. Given the Ninth Circuit’s track record at the Supreme Court, that has to be unprecedented (or nearly so).

      1. Actually, this is a nice refutation of pat theories of the Supreme Court.

        So many people just assume these people never decide anything on the merits. Oh it’s all political. Oh,they are all totally result-oriented. And, in this case, oh, it’s the Ninth Circuit, they hate the Ninth Circuit and will reverse anything that they do!

        No, folks. While I am not going to deny that political considerations do factor into the Supreme Court’s work, you still have nine highly skilled jurists up there trying to get the cases right and trying to call them as they see them.

        And in this case, they looked at the statute and all concluded that the Ninth Circuit had it right.

  3. Ninth Circuit coming strong – created a Circuit split with five or so other Circuits, and won.

  4. Ninth Circuit coming strong – created a Circuit split with five or so other Circuits, and won.

  5. So…do they apply this to local governments via the Commerce Clause or the 14th Amendment?

    1. I actually see the case for constitutionality much stronger as to State and local governments and their agents than I do to the individual (because of the 14th Amendment).

      The commerce clause argument, which is the only one that can reach the individual, is much weaker; so this doesn’t seem like the case to question the constitutionality.

  6. I was wondering the same thing, how this is possibly within Congress’ powers, even with the most generous reading of those powers.

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