Supreme Court Docket – 10 Cases to Watch

The approaching Fall Term for the U.S. Supreme Court has many people questioning the impact that the court’s conservative majority will have on the pending docket. With public approval and confidence ratings the lowest in decades, the Court is also reeling from the leaked abortion draft opinion. Not shrinking under public scrutiny, the justices have already slotted at least a docket of at least 10 cases with impacts in the areas of LGBTQ+ discrimination, environmental, separation of powers, and elections.

In addition to these high-profile cases, the new term will add justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. The legal community will be scrutinizing her approach to her new role and responsibilities as the first black woman and former public defender to sit on the court. Ms. Brown Jackson has stated her decision to bow out from an affirmative action case on the docket but will have plenty of opportunities to demonstrate her influence. She is the 116th Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Below is some insight on some key cases to follow over the next Supreme Court Term.

LGBTQ+ Discrimination and Rights  

Case: 303 Creative v. Elenis

This case sets up a major ruling on the impact of religious beliefs on LGBTQ_+ rights. Ms. Smith had previously challenged Colorado’s public accommodations law but was not successful.

In this case graphic artist Lori Smith, owner of the company 303 Creative has refused to provide services to couples celebrating homosexual marriages based on her religious belief. Ms. Smith seeks to expand the work of her graphic design firm to include wedding websites but does not want to design websites for homosexual weddings. Ms. Smith wants to publish a notice on her website to explain her wishes, but Colorado law prohibits business that are open to the public to discriminate against gay individuals or to announce intent to discriminate.

The justices agreed to add Smith’s claim to the docket under the free speech clause of the First Amendment but declined to review two other questions that Smith raised in her petition. The Supreme Court will determine whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist or business owners to speak or remain silent violates the First Amendment. Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled.

Environmental Law

Case: Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency

This case follows a 2012 ruling by the justices that the Sacketts could bring civil action to challenge an EPA compliance order from the EPA. The EPA compliance order had determined the Sackett’s residential property contained navigable waters and that their proposed home construction project on land they owned near Priest Lake, Idaho, violated the Clean Water Act.

This case will challenge the test U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s test used to determine whether wetlands are considered “waters of the United States” under the Clean Waters Act. Oral arguments are slated to begin on October 3, 2022.

Separation of Powers

Case: Axon Enterprises v. Federal Trade Commission

Petitioner Axon Enterprise requests that the Supreme Court decide whether challenges to the Federal Trade Commission’s existence, structure, and procedures can be considered prior to the agency issuing a final order. Axon claims that being subject to burdensome and unconstitutional administrative processes is an injury that federal courts must be immediately able to correct. They argue that the injury is inherent in the appeals process itself and that the injury cannot be remedied through an eventual favorable administrative decision. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin on November 7, 2022.

Election Law

Case: Moore v. Harper

In this case, the plaintiff argues that the Constitution’s elections clause provides state legislatures sole authority in determining that times, places, and manner of holding Congressional elections. This case revolves around the independent state legislature doctrine, which purports that state legislatures are given authority through the Constitution to regulate federal elections without state court oversight. The applicant, North Carolina House Speaker Timothy Moore, is petitioning the Supreme Court to overturn the North Carolina Supreme Court decision that determined the state’s congressional map was unconstitutional. Opening arguments are not yet scheduled.

Affirmative Action Law

Case: Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College/Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina

These cases both seek to challenge the use of race as a factor in college admission policies. The applicants in the Harvard case also want the Supreme Court to determine whether a college or university can refuse workable race-neutral alternatives on the basis that it would change the composition of the student body without demonstrating that alternative would result in a significant decline in educational quality or benefits to the overall student-body diversity. The plaintiffs are advocating that the justices overturn the decision in the case of Grutter v. Bollinger. Oral arguments are slated to begin on October 31, 2022.

Immigration Law

Case: United States v. Texas

The Supreme Court will hear the Biden Administration’s appeal of a nationwide injunction prohibiting the Department of Homeland Security from fulfilling its immigration enforcement actions as defined by the guidance issued by the secretary. Opening arguments are not yet scheduled.

Copyright Law

Case: Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith

This case asks the Supreme Court to determine whether a work of art considered “transformative” for purposes of protection under the fair use doctrine when it expresses a dissimilar meaning or message from its original source material or decide if a court is not allowed to consider the meaning of the work of art if it is recognizably derived from the original material.

The artwork in question is a series of portraits that Andy Warhol created from use of Lynn Goldsmith’s photograph of the musician Prince. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin on October 12, 2022.

Native American Law

Case: Haaland v. Brackeen

This case seeks to determine whether the placement preferences contained in the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 discriminate based on race and violate the U.S. Constitution. Three additional cases have been consolidated to be heard at the same time. This case is being petitioned by the state of Texas as well as individual plaintiffs. U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments in this case will begin on November 9, 2022.

Personal Injury Law

Case: Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana v. Talevski

This case revolves around whether Spending Clause legislation provides privately enforceable rights under Section 1983. The plaintiff in this case, Ivanka Talevski, has sued on behalf of her husband, Gorgi Talevski, who was a dementia resident living in a nursing home, Valparaiso Care and Rehabilitation. Ms. Talevski has sued the nursing home for violations under the Federal Nursing Home Amendments Act, alleging that the nursing home violated her husband’s rights to be free from chemical restraints and his right to have safe and appropriate discharge procedures. Oral arguments are slated to begin on November 8, 2022.

Criminal Law

Case: Jones v. Hendrix

This case questions whether federal prisoners who did not challenge their conviction, due to established precedence of law standing firmly against them, can challenge those convictions when the Supreme Court later overrules the prior precedent upon which their convictions were based, surmounting to legal innocence of the crime in which they were originally convicted. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin November 1, 2022.

Since 2007, the Supreme Court of the United States has averaged 75 case opinion per year, reversing a lower court decision 71% of the time. Looking at the docket upcoming for the fall session, these key cases will mold legal precedents and should be closely followed by attorneys in these practice areas.

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