Litigation Group 2005-2006 Supreme Court Oral Arguments


In addition to providing support for the underdogs through our Supreme Court Assistance Project (SCAP), Public Citizen Litigation Group attorneys will be arguing four cases in front of the Supreme Court this term. By the end of this term, Public Citizen Litigation Group attorneys will have argued over 50 cases in front of the Supreme Court. Click here to see all the Supreme Court cases argued by the Litigation Group.

> Garcetti v. Ceballos
> Lockhart v. United States
> Will v. Hallock
> Jones v. Flowers

Garcetti v. Ceballos

5/30/06 - Supreme Court issues opinions

3/21/2006 - Supreme Court reheard oral arguments
Click here for transcript of re-argument

Oral Argument, October 12, 2005
Click here for transcript of argument

Question presented:
Does a prosecutor who speaks on a matter of public concern by reporting suspected police misconduct to his superiors lose his First Amendment protection against retaliation by his employer solely because he communicated his message while performing his job? Litigation Group's Bonnie Robin-Vergeer represents the respondent. > more

Press Coverage

Recent Articles
> US Court Rules no whistle-blower free-speech right (5/30/06) [Reuters]
> A Supreme Court Setback for Whistle-Blowers (5/30/06) [NY Times]
> High Court Tightens Rule on Workplace Speech (5/30/06) [NPR, All Things Considered]
> Slate's Jurisprudence: Rights of Whistle-Blowers (5/30/06) [NPR, Day to Day]
> Court Turns Down Volume on Whistle-Blowers (5/30/06) [CNN]
> High Court's Free-Speech Ruling Favors Government (5/30/06) [Washington Post]

> High Court Debates Whistle-Blower Suits (3/21/06) [CNN]
> Court Considers Whistleblower Lawsuits (3/21/06) [Washington Post]
> Court weighs speech rights of public workers (3/20/06) [CNN]
> The Return of Reargument: Supreme Court to hear again a key employee free speech case (3/17/06) [ABA Journal e-Report]
> Justices to Rehear Speech Case from October (2/18/2006) [Washington Post]
> Supreme Court to hear whistle-blower case again (2/17/06) [Reuters]
> Justices tied, to rehear free speech case (2/17/06) [AP via CNN]

Articles from October
> Justices Grapple With Whether Public Employees Enjoy Free-Speech Rights on the Job (10/13/05)  [NY Times, registration required]
High Court Hears Whistleblower Case (10/12/05) [Fox News]
> Los Angeles Prosecutor's Workplace Suit Heard (10/13/05) [Washington Post]
On the Docket: Garcetti v. Ceballos (10/12/05) [Medill, Northwestern U.]

Analysis and Opinion
Blow the Whistle Loudly (3/31/06) [NY Times]
Garcetti v. Ceballos - What Difference Will Alito Make? (2/19/06) [SCOTUSBLOG]
Op-Ed: Occupational Hazard (10/10/05) [NY Times, registration required]
Analysis: a limit on internal whistleblowing? (10/12/05) [SCOTUSBLOG]

Broadcast News
> High Court Weighs Scope of First Amendment Rights (10/12/05) [NPR, All Things Considered]
Slate's Jurisprudence: High Court Whistleblower Case (10/12/05) [NPR, Day to Day]


Lockhart v. United States

Oral argument, November 2, 2005
Click here for Transcript of Argument

Decided, December 7, 2005
Click here to read Court's opnion

Question Presented:
Do the Social Security Act and the Debt Collection Act bar the United States from withholding social security benefits to collect student loan debt that has been outstanding for more than ten years, as the Eighth Circuit has held, or does the Higher Education Act eliminate any such bar, as the Ninth Circuit held below? Litigation Group's Brian Wolfman represents the petitioner.

Press Coverage on Argument
Supreme Court to Hear Student Loan Case (10/30/05) [AP via Yahoo!]
> Uncle Sam vs. James Lockhart (11/03/05) [Village Voice]
Supreme Court Hears Dispute Over an Overdue Student Loan (11/03/05) [Boston Globe]

Press Coverage on Decision
Court: Disabled Can't Escape Student Loans (12/7/2005) [AP via Yahoo!]
> Cheers and Boos After Ruling (12/8/2005) [New York Times, registration required]
>  Justices Say Social Security Benefits Can Be Seized to Cover Debts(12/8/2005) [LA Times]
Viewpoint: Food or Loans: A Dilemma (12/8/2005) [The Daily Texan, University of Texas at Austin]


Richard Will, et al. v. Susan Hallock

Oral argument, November 28, 2005.

Unanimously Vacated and Remanded, January 18, 2006
Click here to read opinion

Questions Presented:
The judgment bar provision of the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2676, provides: "The judgment in an action under section 1346(b) of this title shall constitute a complete bar to any action by the claimant, by reason of the same subject matter, against the employee of the government whose act or omission gave rise to the claim."


This case presents two questions:

1. Whether a court of appeals has jurisdiction over the interlocutory appeal of a district court’s order denying a motion to dismiss based on the FTCA’s judgment bar provision.


2. Whether section 2676 bars a subsequent case against government employees based on the same facts as a prior case, where the first case was styled as an action "under section 1346(b)" but was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground that section 1346(b) did not apply to the claim alleged.

Litigation Group's Allison Zieve represents the respondents. > more

Press Coverage
U.S. Argues to Protect Agents From Suit (11/28/05) [AP via Yahoo!]
Tomorrow's Argument in Will v. Hallock (11/27/05) [SCOTUSblog]


Gary Kent Jones v. Flowers and Wilcox, Commissioner

Opinion, 4/26/2006
Click here to read the majority opinion in the case

Oral Argument, 1/17/2006
Click here to read argument transcript

Question Presented:
When mailed notice of a tax sale or property forfeiture is returned undelivered, does due process require the government to make any additional effort to locate the owner before taking the property? Litigation Group's Michael Kirkpatrick represented the petitioner in this important constitutional win. > more

Press Coverage
Arkansas Wrongly Seized, Sold Man's Home, Justices Rule (4/26/06) [USA Today]
> Court Puts Teeth in 'Notice' Needed to Seize Property (4/27/06) [New York Times, registration required]
High Court Rules Against State's Seizure of House (4/27/06) [Los Angeles Times, registration required]
Tax Sale Invalid, Justices Conclude (4/27/06) [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
Supreme Court Rules in Property Takeover Case (4/26/06) [New York Times, registration Required]
States Must Give Notice for Home Sales (4/26/06) [AP, San Francisco Chronicle]
Justice Roberts Slams State's Property Seizure (4/27/06) [Forbes]