June is SCOTUS Decision month, when all eyes turn to the Supreme Court for rulings on the cases argued this term (before the court adjourns on June 30th for the summer). The calendar normally calls for orders and opinions to be released every Monday – 9:30am for orders and 10:00am for opinions. However, history has shown that additional “opinion days” are often added as the month unfolds.
As always, the Moose News Network will cover the SCOTUS events with the help of SCOTUSblog and Twitter.
The Supreme Court will be in session this morning for opinions starting at 10:00am Eastern. SCOTUSblog will liveblog at this link starting at 9:30am Eastern.
There are 8 cases pending. These are the major and/or newsworthy cases heard in the current term but not yet decided:
– United States v. Texas – DECIDED, injunction will not be removed, DAPA implementation still on hold
Whether the Obama administration has the authority to issue its new deferred-action policy for undocumented immigrants, whether the states have standing to challenge the policy at all, whether DHS was required to notify the public about the proposed policy and provide opportunity for the public to weigh in on it, and whether the policy violates the Constitution’s “Take Care Clause,” which requires the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
– Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt
Whether, when applying the “undue burden” standard of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Fifth Circuit erred in concluding that this standard permits Texas to enforce, in nearly all circumstances, laws that would cause a significant reduction in the availability of abortion services while failing to advance the State’s interest in promoting health – or any other valid interest.
– Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin DECIDED, UT wins
Does the use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions by the University of Texas violate the Equal Protection Clause?
– McDonnell v. U.S.
Whether “official action” under the controlling fraud statutes is limited to exercising actual governmental power, threatening to exercise such power, or pressuring others to exercise such power, and whether the jury must be so instructed; or, if not so limited, whether the Hobbs Act and honest-services fraud statute are unconstitutional.
A full list of pending cases (with links) is below the fold.
USA Today analysis:
The court now faces three issues of huge social importance: Abortion, immigration and affirmative action.
Those are the highlights from among 19 cases left to be decided before the end of June. They include a second tier of closely watched cases, including one that could set a higher bar for public corruption, another that could help ease Puerto Rico’s crushing debt and a third that could affect drunk drivers who refuse breath or blood tests. […]
Affirmative action. A former white student’s challenge to the University of Texas’ use of racial preferences in admissions dates back the longest. The case was heard in early December, after being returned to the Supreme Court for a second go-round. In 2013, the justices demanded tougher judicial scrutiny of the school’s use of race, but an appeals court again sided with UT.
Unlike the other cases, this one will be decided by just seven justices, because Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself after working on it as U.S. solicitor general. Without the risk of a tie, advocates and opponents of affirmative action anticipate a ruling for or against the policy — perhaps with repercussions for other universities as well. The betting line tilts slightly against UT.
Abortion. Another case from Texas challenges a state law that imposed major restrictions on abortion clinics, ostensibly to protect women’s health. The law requires clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and forces doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals — rules that threaten to leave only nine fully functioning abortion clinics in a state with 5.4 million women of reproductive age.
Two lower federal courts have upheld the law, but abortion rights proponents say it places too great a burden on women seeking abortions, without a justifiable health benefit. They may have a winning hand if Justice Anthony Kennedy joins the court’s four liberals against one or both restrictions. A substantive ruling could represent the most significant abortion decision by the court since 1992.
Immigration. Case number three from Texas is President Obama’s effort to overturn lower court rulings that have blocked him from offering more than 4 million undocumented immigrants a chance to remain in the country without fear of deportation. It represents his last chance to help the parents of those brought to the country as children who have already won such a reprieve.
Texas led a group of 26 states against the plan, complaining that it would have to pay for driver’s licenses if the parents dodge deportation proceedings. Obama’s best chance appears to be the hope that a majority of justices will decide the cost of licenses does not give Texas sufficient standing in court. Otherwise, a 4-4 tie would uphold the verdict of the lower courts, and the program would be dead.
Recap on Sunday, 6/19/2016, by Amy Howe on the remaining cases, In Plain English, before Monday’s session:
Between tomorrow morning, when the Justices will take the bench at ten o’clock, and the end of June, the Court is expected to issue thirteen rulings in cases involving everything from tribal-court jurisdiction to abortion, immigration, and the scope of federal laws prohibiting political corruption.
Speculation is that Chief Justice Roberts will be writing both Fisher and US v Texas (he has only written 5 opinions this term) and that Breyer or Kagan will be writing Whole Woman’s Health (they have each only written 6).
From SCOTUSblog: October 2015 Term cases pending (oldest cases first)
Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, No. 13-1496 [Arg: 12.7.2015]
Issue(s): Whether Indian tribal courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate civil tort claims against nonmembers, including as a means of regulating the conduct of nonmembers who enter into consensual relationships with a tribe or its members
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, No. 14-981 [Arg: 12.9.2015, Transcript]
Issue(s): Whether the Fifth Circuit’s re-endorsement of the University of Texas at Austin’s use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions decisions can be sustained under this Court’s decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.
Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, No. 14-1520 [Arg: 2.23.2016]
Issue(s): (1) Whether the Federal Circuit improperly abrogated the plain meaning of 35 U.S.C. § 284 by forbidding any award of enhanced damages unless there is a finding of willfulness under a rigid, two-part test, when this Court recently rejected an analogous framework imposed on 35 U.S.C. § 285, the statute providing for attorneys’ fee awards in exceptional cases.
Voisine v. U.S., No. 14-10154 [Arg: 2.29.2016]
Issue(s): (1) Whether a misdemeanor crime with the mens rea of recklessness qualifies as a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” as defined by 18 U.S.C. §§ 921(a)(33)(A) and 922(g)(9); and (2) whether 18 U.S.C. §§ 921(a)(33)(A) and 922(g)(9) are unconstitutional under the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments and the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution.
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, No. 15-274 [Arg: 3.2.2016, Transcript]
Issue(s): (1) Whether, when applying the “undue burden” standard of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a court errs by refusing to consider whether and to what extent laws that restrict abortion for the stated purpose of promoting health actually serve the government’s interest in promoting health; and (2) whether the Fifth Circuit erred in concluding that this standard permits Texas to enforce, in nearly all circumstances, laws that would cause a significant reduction in the availability of abortion services while failing to advance the State’s interest in promoting health – or any other valid interest.
U.S. v. Texas, No. 15-674 [Arg: 4.18.2016, Transcript]
Issue(s): (1) Whether a state that voluntarily provides a subsidy to all aliens with deferred action has Article III standing and a justiciable cause of action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to challenge the Secretary of Homeland Security’s guidance seeking to establish a process for considering deferred action for certain aliens because it will lead to more aliens having deferred action; (2) whether the guidance is arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law; (3) whether the guidance was subject to the APA’s notice-and-comment procedures; and (4) whether the guidance violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, Article II, section 3.
Bernard v. Minnesota, No. 14-1470 [Arg: 4.20.2016] (Includes Beylund v. Levi, No. 14-1507 and Birchfield v. North Dakota, No. 14-146)
Issue(s): Whether, in the absence of a warrant, a state may make it a crime for a person to refuse to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol in the person’s blood.
Mathis v. U.S., No. 15-6092 [Arg: 4.26.2016]
Issue(s): Whether a predicate prior conviction under the Armed Career Criminal Act must qualify as such under the elements of the offense simpliciter, without extending the modified categorical approach to separate statutory definitional provisions that merely establish the means by which referenced elements may be satisfied rather than stating alternative elements or versions of the offense.
McDonnell v. U.S., No. 15-474 [Arg: 4.27.2016, Transcript]
Issue(s): Whether “official action” under the controlling fraud statutes is limited to exercising actual governmental power, threatening to exercise such power, or pressuring others to exercise such power, and whether the jury must be so instructed; or, if not so limited, whether the Hobbs Act and honest-services fraud statute are unconstitutional.
Updated “What’s left in Plain English” from Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog
For the cases we are closely watching:
– Whole Woman’s Health – The Fifth Circuit upheld the new requirements so we want the Fifth Circuit overturned
– US v Texas – The immigrant bashing judge in Brownsville put DAPA/DACA on hold. We want his injunction removed so that the plan can be implemented.
– Fisher – The Fifth Circuit said that the University of Texas affirmative action rules were legal. We want that affirmed.
Three boxes of opinions – likely 4 opinions.
5553 people watching. Rain in Washington D.C. putting a damper(!) on the protesters – pro-choice and pro-birth-but-meh-on-life.
This is a win for the good guys!!!
The Chief Justice announces the ties and what will happen to them:
The injunction stays in place, no other rulings.
That ruling is NOT overturned and is therefore affirmed.
That takes care of all but three cases. The Chief Justice announced that they will all be announced on Monday, June 27th, no opinions next Thursday:
Reactions: Affirmative Action:
A Victory For Affirmative Action, And For Many Colleges A Sigh Of Relief
Hillary Clinton: Statement on Fisher v. University of Texas
Commentary and Analysis from SCOTUSblog So what happened between Fisher I and Fisher II?
WaMo, Smartypants: What the Supreme Court Did (and Didn’t Do) Today on Immigration
From SCOTUSblog, Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia: A meditation on history, law, and loss
Hillary Clinton: Statement on US v Texas
Also En español (at the link)
President Obama on Thursday’s SCOTUS opinions:
Transcript: Remarks by the President on the Supreme Court Decision on U.S. Versus Texas
More at the link as well as two questions from the press.