'Not Particularly Exciting' Supreme Court Term Begins

By John S. McClenahen The U.S. Supreme Court's Fall 2003 Term, which begins today, is "not particularly exciting," judges Carter G. Phillips, managing partner of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP, a Washington, D.C., law firm. And he's right, with the exception of the eagerly awaited decision in McConnell v. FEC, the campaign finance law case that's technically a holdover from the court's 2002 term. As of mid-September, some 18 business cases were slated to go before the justices between now and next June. However, only four are likely to significantly affect manufacturers. Yates v. Hendon (No. 02-458) involves the definition of a "participant" in an employee benefit plan. The issue in Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al (No. 02-658), scheduled for oral argument on Oct. 8, is whether, under the Clean Air Act, a state or the federal government has the final say on anti-pollution technology. In Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez (No. 02-749), also scheduled for oral argument on Oct. 8, the basic question is whether the Americans with Disabilities Act gives preferential rehiring rights to employees who have been lawfully fired for such misconduct as illegal drug use. Finally, so-called reverse age discrimination -- treating older workers more favorably than younger workers -- is the issue in General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. v. Cline (No 02-1080), a case scheduled for oral argument on Nov. 12.

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