Supreme Court

Here Are the 7 Supreme Court Cases That Still Remain Undecided


Credit: Library of Congress

In the next few days, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its final seven opinions in cases argued during the 2014-2015 term. That final push starts today at 10am ET when the Court will issue one or more opinions. Here are the seven cases that still remain undecided.

Johnson v. United States

The Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 imposes a minimum federal sentence of 15 years on anyone convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm who has "three previous convictions…for a violent felony or a serious drug offense." In this case, a member of the Aryan Liberation Movement was sentenced under that statute after a district court found his previous convictions for robbery, attempted robbery, and possession of a short-barreled shotgun to each count as a "violent felony." The Supreme Court will decide whether possession of a short-barreled shotgun should in fact count as a "violent felony" under the terms of the Armed Career Criminal Act.

Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Redistricting Commission

In 2000 voters in Arizona amended the state constitution to empower an independent redistricting commission to handle the task of redrawing the state's congressional districts. In this case, the Arizona state legislature is challenging the constitutionality of that amendment under Article One, Section Four of the U.S. Constitution, which says, "the Times, Places and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations."

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project

This case centers on the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Does that federal law allow parties to bring "disparate impact" claims against landlords, businesses, and lawmakers? Or is the statute reserved solely for claims of intentional discrimination?

Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency

This deals with an anti-pollution rule promulgated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act. According to the state of Michigan and the other challengers, the EPA disregarded congressional directions and failed to properly take costs into account in its power plant regulations. The EPA, by contrast, maintains that its actions are perfectly legitimate under the broad regulatory powers it possesses under the Clean Air Act.

Glossip v. Gross

The state of Oklahoma employs a three-drug protocol when carrying out the death penalty via lethal injection. The first drug is supposed to render the prisoner totally unconscious and insensate. The second drug is a paralytic. The third drug does the killing. But what if there is a lack of medical consensus about whether or not the first drug actually renders the prisoner unconscious and insensate? What if paralyzed prisoners sometimes suffer excruciating pain in the final minutes before death? Would that lack of medical certainty about the drug's effects violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against imposing cruel and unusual punishments? This case centers on those questions.

Obergefell v. Hodges

Do state legislatures have the lawful power to prohibit gay marriage? Or do state bans on gay marriage violate the 14th Amendment, which forbids the states from denying the equal protection of the laws to any person within their respective jurisdictions? In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court confronts the possibility of legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

King v. Burwell

The question before the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell is whether the Obama administration illegally implemented the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) when the IRS allowed tax credits to issue to certain persons who bought health insurance on federally established health care exchanges. According to the text of the ACA, such tax credits should only issue in connection with purchases made via an "Exchange established by the State." According to the Obama administration, however, the phrase "established by the State" is actually a "term of art" that encompasses exchanges established by both the states and by the federal government.

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  1. Pelosi was right when she pointed out we had o pass this abomination to find out what was in it… And we are finding it all out the hard way…

  2. I think they have five votes to impose state-recognized gay marriage.

    A couple of the liberals have already basically announced they’ll do this. The others will, I imagine, do it too. That’s four – Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor.

    Kennedy will probably vote for gay marriage too, because he doesn’t want to be snubbed at all those legal conferences he goes to, here and in Europe.

    We know that Scalia, Alito and Thomas will dissent, so the only remaining question is will Roberts go with the majority or write a separate dissenting opinion.

  3. SCOTUS. Still pulling all nighters, writing the paper due the next day.

  4. You know you’re getting old when you’re more excited about developments at SCOTUSblog than anything else that’s going to happen this week.

    1. Is masturbation involved?

      1. Kennedy forgot the wine again, so Ginsburg declined.

  5. You know what else sounds like a “term of art”? The word militia.

    1. Oh, you mean the National Guard?

  6. What difference, at this point, does any of this make?

  7. Decision of the Fourth Circuit is affirmed in King v. Burwell. 6-3.

    1. What a shock. Knew this would happen.

    2. Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

    3. Does this mean the good guys win or the bad guys win? Or is this a case where the court tells the people to fuck off and stop voting for assholes that are prone to making shitty laws?

      1. It means that they really meant to give away that money and the Supremes are here to help!

      2. Bad guys win, partially a “stop voting for assholes” decision and mostly “the statute means what the legislature says it means, whatever it actually says”.

        Which is basic statutory interpretation, yes, but ignores that actual statutory interpretation and legislative history here to get the statute to say what they want it to say.

        Knew it would be 6-3. Said a few weeks ago it would be 6-3.

      3. Does this mean the good guys win or the bad guys win?

        The IRS won. Pretty sure they’re the bad guys.

    4. Scalia’s opening salvo:

      The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and
      Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the
      State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the
      Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and
      the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.

      1. Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is
        not established by a State is “established by the State.”

        In a Supreme Court opinion.

    5. color me shocked

  8. Justice Holmes triumphs again. Thanks, Justice Holmes.

  9. “In this instance, the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”

    And the intellectual and moral integrity of the court system is on display once again.

    1. In other shocking news, Scalia is pissed.

      1. He’s only for big government when the cops are involved.

    2. So they’ve just opened the doors for total regulatory power. Nice.

    3. So they’ve just opened the doors for total regulatory power. Nice.

      1. and so have the squirrels apparently.

      2. Those doors opened a long time ago. There’s no closing them now.

    4. So basically because the draft of the law is a huge fuckup representing thousands of pages of likely hundreds of lobbyist requirements and the context is Roberts being uninvited to important cocktail parties, the pertinent statutory phrase can be interpreted however Roberts feelz.

      Fuck that venal piece of shit.

  10. So much for ever having statutory drafting matter ever again.

    This is horseshit of the highest order. Why bother with the Courts anymore?

    1. Why bother with Congress, any more, either?

      Congress said “no subsidies on federal exchanges.” The IRS said “Eh, we think we’ll give subsidies on federal exchanges.”

      This makes Congress just as useless as the Court.

      Its caudillo-style government, with an ornamental legislature that is occasionally consulted for advice, or just for their PR value.

  11. I am sure we will find out that words/laws do not mean what they actually say.

  12. Don’t fret, Peanuts. The GOP Congress has your back.

    1. Wait, are you implying that the true libertarian position is increased state power?

  13. Whaddaya wanna bet that the whole “deference to legislatures” thing goes up in smoke on the gay marriage issue?

    I’m betting there will be a high-larious mashup to be done between King and Sebelius, on the one hand, where the Court crawls on its belly to the legislature, and Obergefell, where the Court will be on a very high horse, indeed.

  14. We euthanize millions of pets a year. Why is this so hard?

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