While the U.S. Supreme Court heard a number of blockbuster cases in 2022, it appears this year will be no slouch itself in terms of significant cases, including ones regarding social media, student loans, attorney client privilege, and patent eligibility.
A slew of social media cases are pending for the justices this year. On February 21, the Court will hear a case challenging the scope of laws designed to shield social media companies from liability for content that’s posted by third parties, which has the potential to upend the way the internet’s legal regime has worked for decades. A similar case, Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh, which centers on an ISIS attack in Istanbul, will be argued on February 22.
The Court could also choose to hear Moody v. NetChoice LLC, which calls into question the constitutionality of a Florida law which makes it illegal for social media companies to suspend politicians’ accounts. The law also requires companies to disclose how and when they censor speech online, which tech trade groups argue violates the First Amendment right of private companies to exercise editorial discretion over what speech to disseminate.
A similar case, NetChoice v. Paxton, which challenges a Texas social media law, is also pending before the justices.
On February 28, the Court is set to hear arguments for Biden v. Nebraska, which concerns President Biden’s plan to eliminate over $400 billion in student loan debt for roughly 40 million Americans.
In December, the justices denied the federal government’s request for an emergency order to reinstate the policy and instead decided to send the matter to its merits docket to be fully briefed and argued.
The Court has also agreed to hear a separate case, Department of Education v. Brown, from two borrowers who are ineligible for debt relief who argue they were not given the opportunity to urge Biden in comments to expand the program’s eligibility.
Attorney Client Privilege
On January 9, the Court began hearing arguments in re Grand Jury, which concerns a conflict that commonly arises with corporate counsel: whether attorney client privilege encompasses business communications.
The court will consider whether “dual purpose” communications, in which lawyers act as both legal and business advisers, can be withheld from opposing counsel under attorney-client privilege, or whether they must be turned over.
While the justices have not yet agreed to hear Tropp v. Travel Sentry, Court watchers believe it likely they will. The justices have asked the U.S. Solicitor General whether they should resolve the dispute, after they declined to hear a similar case despite the government’s urging. The move to ask the advice of the Solicitor General indicates that the justices are perhaps looking for a way to decide the matter once and for all.
Tropp v. Travel Sentry concerns the line between patentable and unpatentable applications under Section 101 of federal patent laws. Courts and patent examiners have struggled to draw that line ever since the court’s 2014 ruling setting out a two-part test.