Summaries of high-profile Supreme Court cases

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That The Supreme Court is scheduled to decide several key cases in his 2022-23 term, which starts on Monday.

More than two dozen appeals are currently on the argument. Several dozen more are expected to be added in the coming months. The caseload is usually decided in February, with the deadline actually ending at the end of June.

Other important appeals that may yet be added to the court’s calendar cover issues such as gun rights, vaccine mandates in schools and businesses, and content restrictions on social media.

Important petitions already at the Supreme Court’s argument:

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College

Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Montana State Capitol protesting LGBTQ+ legislation on March 15, 2021 in Helena, Mont.

Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Montana State Capitol protesting LGBTQ+ legislation on March 15, 2021 in Helena, Mont.
((Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP, File))

BIDEN, HARRIS COMES WITH KENTANJI BROWN JACKSON AT INVESTMENT CEREMONY BEFORE JUSTICE FIRST SITUATION

Arguments on Monday 31 Oct

ISSUE: Separate challenge to whether institutions of higher education can continue to use race as one of several “plus” factors in admissions, to achieve a diverse student body.

THE CASE: A coalition of Asian-American students say they are unfairly discriminated against, holding them to a higher college admissions standard at the expense of Latino and black students.

The arguments: The organization representing the students is urging the high court to overrule its 2003 precedent in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld “narrowly tailored” and “holistic” race-conscious affirmative action programs as long as schools don’t base such admissions decisions solely on race, or rely on a quota system. Affirmative action opponents say universities violate Title VI by penalizing a particular class of applicants and rejecting viable race-neutral alternatives. The schools vehemently deny any discrimination and say their consideration of race is limited, noting that lower courts agreed with their discretionary reasoning. The Biden administration filed an amicus brief in support of Harvard’s admissions policies.

THE CONSEQUENCE: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said in her 2003 majority decision that race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time, with the expectation that they would no longer be necessary in 25 years. The current case could have enormous nationwide consequences in other areas such as employment and public contracts. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will not hear the Harvard case because she finished her term on the school’s board of supervisors this spring.

People hold a rainbow flag during the 51st LGBTQ Pride Parade in Chicago, Illinois, June 26, 2022. - The Pride Parade returned to the Lakeview and Uptown neighborhoods after a three-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

People hold a rainbow flag during the 51st LGBTQ Pride Parade in Chicago, Illinois, June 26, 2022. – The Pride Parade returned to the Lakeview and Uptown neighborhoods after a three-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
(KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

TEXAS GOV. ABBOT PRAISES OPERATION LONE STAR, HIGHLIGHTS HOW MANY MIGRANTS HE HAS SENT IN THE COUNTRY

WORKPLACE SPEECH/LGBTQ+ RIGHTS: 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis (Arguments TBA)

ISSUE: Whether application of a public accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or remain silent violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

THE CASE: Graphic artist Lorie Smith is seeking an exemption from the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), saying it would “force” her to design and publish custom wedding websites that promote messages that violate her personal beliefs and prevent her from posting on her own company’s website an explanation of these beliefs, specifically her opposition to same-sex marriage. The state says its laws are being applied fairly all businesses, making it illegal to deny public services based on “disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin or ancestry.”

The arguments: Lower courts have upheld CADA, saying the state has compelling reasons to protect the “dignity interests” of marginalized groups. The Supreme Court in 2018 ruled in favor of a Colorado baker in the “Masterpiece Cakeshop” case involving the same law — but on narrow grounds and sidestepping core issues of his religion and freedom of speech. Both this and the website case are also limited in scope, dealing with companies that have an “artistic expression” component not applied to most employers.

THE CONSEQUENCE: Despite Smith’s request, the trial court will specifically does not decide whether this law also violates the artist’s sincere free exercise of faith-based rights. The court’s conservative majority has been more receptive in recent years to upholding religious freedom in disputes over school choice funding plans and public employee prayers on school grounds. Separate appeals over wedding photographers may reach the judges in the coming months, who may address the religious freedom issues.

KAMALA HARRIS SUGGESTS ‘YOU SHOULD NOT CHANGE YOUR BELIEFS’ TO AGREE WITH DEMOCRATS ON ABORTION

ELECTION DISTRIBUTION: Moore v. Harper (Arguments TBA)

ISSUE: Whether state courts improperly usurped powers granted by United States Constitution to state legislatures governing federal elections and congressional reapportionment.

THE CASE: Involves a challenge by North Carolina Republicans to a state court ruling that threw out congressional districts drawn from the General Assembly that would have made GOP candidates likely winners in 10 of the state’s 14 congressional districts.

The arguments: The Supreme Court is now being asked to invoke the “doctrine of the independent state legislature” for the first time. Proponents of ISL say that Article 1 of the Constitution—specifically, “The times, places, and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof”—gives state legislatures sole authority to regulate federal elections without oversight by state courts or state constitutions. Civil rights groups call it an attempt to inject hyper-gerrymandering into the redistricting process, and that the theory was used by some to challenge election results in the 2020 presidential election. The question for the justices will be defining the limits of the word “legislature.”

Akemi Vargas, 8, cries as she talks about being separated from her father during an immigration family separation protest in front of the Sandra Day O'Connor US District Court building in Phoenix.

Akemi Vargas, 8, cries as she talks about being separated from her father during an immigration family separation protest in front of the Sandra Day O’Connor US District Court building in Phoenix.
(Associated Press)

GINNI THOMAS, CHIEF HOUSE CLARENCE THOMAS, HOUSE, ACCEPTS JAN. 6 SELECTED ‘VOLUNTARY INTERVIEW’

THE CONSEQUENCE: The justices will hear a separate argument Oct. 4 about Alabama’s GOP-friendly congressional map, which civil rights groups say dilutes the voting power of minority voters — in a state with a 27% black population. What the judges decide in both state disputes could have a big impact on the 2024 election and beyond.

IMMIGRATION: United States v. Texas (November Arguments TBA)

AT ISSUE: Challenge to a 2021 DHS policy that halts most migrant deportations and prioritizes removal only for those deemed a serious threat to public safety or cases of terrorism or espionage.

THE CASE: Following a lawsuit from Louisiana and Texas, a federal judge issued a nationwide injunction freezing the “Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law” policy. The Biden administration then asked the High Court to intervene.

THE ARGUMENTS: The GOP-led states say the situation along the Mexican border is a growing crisis and that they are suffering economic, security, education and health problems associated with the new policy.

Opponents of Alabama's immigration law gather for a rally outside the Statehouse in Montgomery, Alabama.

Opponents of Alabama’s immigration law gather for a rally outside the Statehouse in Montgomery, Alabama.
(AP)

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But the Ministry of Justice criticized a single federal judge’s order, saying it amounted to a “nationwide, judicially mandated review” of the executive branch’s enforcement priorities, noting that federal authorities are best equipped to handle the detention of illegal immigrants with its limited resources.

THE CONSEQUENCE: A number of both red- and blue-leaning states have challenged immigration policies in recent years involving both GOP and Democrat administrations. In the last Supreme Court term, the justices discussed separate appeals over asylum seekers and public benefits available to newly arrived migrants.

Courts have traditionally limited states’ ability to challenge federal immigration enforcement policies — or implement their own. But the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court appears more eager to consider the state’s challenges.

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