Notify the Supreme Court: Aisle 3 needs some cleaning.
The Supreme Court is set to begin a term in which the justices will spend a significant amount of time answering follow-up issues prompted by their landmark judgements on abortion, gun rights, and affirmative action over the past two years.
Critics of the court’s recent conservative decisions point to details that were glossed over as the court’s GOP-appointed, six-justice majority pushed American jurisprudence swiftly to the right on some of the nation’s most divisive issues, and these details are being exposed in some of the legal fights currently before the high court.
The majority’s dedication to a comprehensive, history-focused construction of the Second Amendment will be put to the test in a case that will be heard by the court in the coming months. It will hear two more that have the potential to significantly alter regulatory bodies. And both abortion and racial diversity in the classroom may need to be revisited in the near future.
It is yet unclear what cases the court will hear during the new term, which begins on Monday. The Supreme Court took on 12 new arguments on Friday, including two that challenge legislation in conservative states that dictate how social media platforms must police user-generated content.
As controversy develop over undeclared gifts to certain justices and differences have spilled into the public view concerning potential reforms, the Supreme Court also faces difficult choices and tensions beyond its docket. The vast majority of Americans, according to a recent HEADLINESFOREVER poll, support imposing an enforceable ethics rule on the justices.
HEADLINESFOREVER has predicted the cases that will be heard by the Supreme Court in the coming year.
Limiting the scope of a gun law?
One of the most publicised cases currently before the Supreme Court concerns the constitutional right to bear arms for those who have been accused of domestic violence.
This case will put to the test the Supreme Court’s commitment to the reasoning behind its decision last year to overturn New York’s decades-old gun control laws. Republican-appointed justices wrote in a 6-3 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen that the Constitution allows only the constraints on gun ownership that were recognised early on in American history.
Challenges to existing gun-control laws flooded in after the ruling and its demand to delve through history to evaluate the constitutionality of a modern legislation.
“There’s basically just chaos in the Second Amendment space and a huge volume of litigation,” said Esther Sanchez-Gomez of the Giffords Law Centre, which promotes gun-safety laws. There is chaos because of this new test.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Bruen reasoning in March, when it invalidated a federal law that forbade people under domestic violence restraining orders from owning firearms, saying that the law didn’t have any basis in “our Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
The Biden administration argued to the Supreme Court that this ruling should be reversed because it allows dangerous individuals to easily get firearms. Many observers believe that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, two of the court’s most conservative members, will be concerned about the public perception of a finding that would allow domestic abusers to legally possess firearms. There’s a chance that because to these worries, a majority of the court will decide to find a way to uphold the act, even if it’s unclear how they’d reconcile this decision with their earlier finding in Bruen.
The United States of America v. Rahimi case will be argued on November 7th.
Another attempt to subvert agency authority
Businesses, conservative groups, and even some conservative justices have been working to get rid of a legal theory for decades because they believe it grants too much authority to government agencies (sometimes known as “the administrative state”). The approach, named Chevron deference after a Supreme Court case from 1984, offers agencies broad discretion in interpreting the statutes they enforce, even if judges have a different interpretation.
As the number of conservative justices has grown, the doctrine has been taken to the brink of oblivion on multiple occasions, but the court has always refrained from giving it the death sentence it deserves. A dispute contesting a decision by federal officials to require fishing boat operators to pay for monitors who ensure compliance with fishing quotas is tightening its noose once again this term. Whether or not the justices should formally reverse Chevron is the legal question, not the obscure facts of the case.
Environmental, pharmaceutical, food safety, vehicle safety, banking, financial market, and other federal rules may be at risk if this occurs. If Chevron were to be overturned, there would be a flood of legal challenges seeking judges who would disagree with agencies’ longstanding interpretations of their own powers, thereby overturning policies that have been in place for decades. There could be calls for Congress to give more authority to regulatory bodies.
No date has been set for oral argument in the case of Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo. As early as December, the case might be heard in court.
Fight over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s budget could devastate similar agencies.
The court will hear a constitutional challenge against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Tuesday, the second day of the new term. The bureau was established by the Dodd-Frank law signed by former President Barack Obama in 2010 and is generally despised by conservatives; this is the second time the Supreme Court has taken aim at it. Three years ago, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 judgement ruling that the agency director could be fired at any moment by the president without cause, even though their tenure was specified by law to last for five years.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has found that the CFPB’s funding via Federal Reserve fees is unconstitutional because it violates Congress’s obligation to annually provide funds for the CFPB’s operations under the Constitution.
The Federal Reserve, other bank regulators, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and possibly even more could all require emergency legislation to restructure their financing if the Supreme Court upholds the ruling.
“This is an incredibly important case,” said Constitutional Accountability Center’s Brianne Gorod. “Many other federal agencies would be put in jeopardy.”
In the case of CFPB v. Community Financial Services Association, there are few precedents that can be used as indicators of how the Supreme Court will rule. “There isn’t really any precedent on this issue,” Adam White of the American Enterprise Institute stated.
The return of affirmative action: why now?
In June, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively ended the use of race in college admissions after throwing down affirmative action programmes at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. While schools have claimed they would lose racial diversity without the programmes found unconstitutional this year, the judgement was ambiguous on whether or not they could employ other criteria that commonly correlate with race, such as socioeconomic position and geography, to achieve the same goal.
Now, only a few short months after that historic victory, the courts are being requested to hear a case involving a disagreement over admissions policy changes at an elite public school in northern Virginia. In an effort to recruit more members of traditionally underrepresented groups, including Blacks and Latinos, the university recently reduced the importance of standardised test scores and increased the weight given to other, formerly race-neutral elements.
Parents who filed suit against the school say that they believe the administration is engaging in illegal racial balancing in order to appease a view that Asian children are taking up too many seats in the classroom.
Even if the Supreme Court decides it doesn’t want to revisit the matter so soon, it will eventually have to deal with the various strategies that institutions are employing to either comply with or circumvent the ruling from last term.
Conflicts over social media are a major concern.
On Friday, the Supreme Court indicated that it will weigh in on a movement by red state legislators to counteract what many conservatives see as restriction of their views on social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and X (previously known as Twitter). Federal appellate courts issued conflicting rulings when social media companies challenged state laws in Texas and Florida that sought to compel equal treatment of different political perspectives.
Some on the left are also sceptical of the power of the tech firms, so the cases, which will likely be argued in the first half of next year, could produce some strange bedfellows by pitting the free-speech concerns of many Americans against what the companies claim is their First Amendment right to control what appears on their websites.
The Supreme Court has decided to hear two further cases involving political speech on social media, one of which will examine whether or not public authorities have the right to prevent individuals from posting critical comments on the accounts of those officials. On October 31st, those cases will be presented for oral argument.
Trump and the repercussions of January 6th
There are four unprecedented criminal prosecutions of former President Donald Trump currently underway, any of which could lead to appeals to the Supreme Court. However, if the justices were to take up the question of whether Trump can or should be disqualified from the presidential race due to his role in ginning up the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and his broader efforts to subvert the 2020 election, it would immediately eclipse everything else on the docket.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed in different states to have Trump disqualified from being on the ballot by invoking the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment. Different schools of legal thought are calling on the Supreme Court to rule on the matter soon, rather than later, before the election. That would cause the Supreme Court to become the site of a political battle unlike any in its recent history.
War over abortion is bound to erupt again.
The Supreme Court’s historic 5-4 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year closed a chapter in the abortion debate but did not settle the issue. In April, the justices intervened in an emergency situation involving a dispute over the abortion pill mifepristone, granting the Biden administration’s request to keep the drug on the market despite an order by a federal judge in Texas effectively withdrawing permission of the prescription.
More than half of all abortions in the United States are now medical abortions, in part because several states have restricted access to surgical abortions. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling last year that removed the federal constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, several states have enacted sweeping bans on abortion, and the pills provide a way to circumvent these laws.
The case was remanded to the 5th Circuit for further consideration, but it appears inevitable that it will soon return to the justices.