Penn State Law case beats long odds to be heard by the Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case presented by the Penn State Law Civil Rights Appellate Clinic. The case, Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals, involves Daniel Coleman, an African-American, who filed suit against Maryland Court of Appeals and individual defendants for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The question presented for review is whether Congress constitutionally abrogated states’ 11th Amendment immunity when it passed the self-care leave provision of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Each year, the Supreme Court receives about 10,000 requests, or petitions for writ of certiorari, to review a lower court decision. On average, the court grants and hears argument in only about 75-80 of those cases.

"We are thrilled that the Court saw the virtue in hearing this case and are confident that at the end of the day it will find that the self-care provision of the FMLA is constitutional," said clinic director Professor Michael Foreman, who will argue the case before the court.

Clinic students involved in the case were elated to hear that the petition for writ of certiorari that they filed had been granted.

"This morning I kept hitting the refresh button on the Supreme Court website, because I had a good feeling. Getting the Supreme Court to review a case is a daunting task," said Kathleen Wagner, senior member of the clinic next semester. "Throughout the process, however, we all began to see how important this issue was and how necessary it was for the Supreme Court to weigh in. I think because we believed in our cause, it showed in our writing and hopefully it was something the members of the court noticed, as well. All in all, it has been an amazing experience and I am very excited to turn our attention to the merits brief next semester."

"I was sitting in court working at my internship when I got this news, and I am completely thrilled. The honor of being one of the very few cases granted review by the Court is a testament to the capabilities of our students and to Professor Foreman's leadership," said third-year law student Wesley Corning, who is interning at the Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office this summer.

"Getting the court to agree to hear a case is just the beginning. Our work during the next couple of months will focus on preparing the brief on the merits and then for oral argument," said Foreman.


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Last Updated July 22, 2015