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The U.S. Supreme Court's 2009 Term

Justice Stevens's Last Round in the Access Battle

By Gary F. Smith, Jane Perkins & Gill Deford

The enforcement of mandatory arbitration agreements, civil rights, attorney fees, and sovereign immunity were among the court-access issues subject last Term to the U.S. Supreme Court’s scrutiny. In an employment discrimination case the Court held that a challenge to Chicago’s hiring practice was not barred by the statute of limitations: each time the city relied on the hiring practice it violated Title VII anew. Results in two fo the Court’s decisions on attorney fees were contrary to the interests of lower-income people and their counsel: fees awarded under the Equal Access to Justice Act are payable to the plaintiff, not to the attorney, and fee enhancements are inappropriate in almost all cases. Justice Sonia Sotomayor's first opinion concerned interlocutory appeals. As a counterpoint, this was Justice John Paul Stevens's last term. He will be missed.

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