The Supreme Court is back in public session on Monday, and as its current term winds down, at least eight big decisions remain to be announced. So the odds are good of something notable coming out of today’s session.
The first order of business will be the announcement of new cases that will be accepted for the Court’s next term, which starts in October 2014.
One proposed case the Court could take on Monday is a case about the public display of religious symbols. Last May, the Court took the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway, which it decided on May 5. In the Town of Greece decision, a divided Court upheld prayers at public government meetings, in what could be a historically significant moment for the religious Establishment clause in the First Amendment.
But also a year ago, the Court put on hold consideration of a second case, Elmbrook School District v. Doe, which involves the rental and use of a church sanctuary to host graduation ceremonies for two public schools.
After it announced the Town of Greece decision, the Court put the Elmbrook School District v. Doe petition back on its calendar for private conference consideration for last Friday.
In addition to the Town of Greece decision, two other big decisions already have been announced in 2014.
In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the Court decided that states could restrict their use of affirmative action programs in university admissions and at other public institutions.
And in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, Chief Justice John Roberts and four other justices struck down general limits on how much money can be spent on federal political campaigns over a two-year period.
But eight other big decisions remain unannounced by the Court as it moves toward wrapping up a busy term in late June. Here are the cases to watch, with a brief description of each case (or pair of cases).
The Bond case was heard in arguments last November, and it remains the lone high-profile case from 2013 that hasn’t been announced yet. The big picture issue in the Bond case is the possible fate of a landmark 1920 Supreme Court decision: Missouri v. Holland. The Holland decision gave Congress the power to pass laws to carry out the U.S. government’s obligations under international treaties.
This high-profile case asks the Court to interpret the breadth of the President’s constitutional authority to make appointments during Senate recesses.
This case is about Massachusetts’s selective exclusion law – which makes it a crime for public speakers other than clinic “employees or agents . . . acting within the scope of their employment” to protest within 35 feet of a reproductive health care facility.
In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the national hobby and crafts chain store asked the Court to take on the Affordable Care Act birth control mandate that applies to for-profit companies. The Obama administration also had asked the Court to take up the Hobby Lobby case.
In the Conestoga Wood case, a Mennonite family-owned, profit-making business claims that the ACA’s birth control mandate violates the company’s rights under the First Amendment free exercise clause and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The Justices will determine how states define if a person is mentally disabled to the point of becoming ineligible for the death penalty.
The highly publicized case involves a copyright battle between Aereo, a tech TV startup, and the major television networks that could affect the future of broadcast television and cloud computing.
Both cases examine the power of the police, acting without a search warrant in certain circumstances, to look at information stored on a cellphone taken from a suspect at the time of an arrest.
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