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What cases do the Supreme Court have left this year?


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With the Supreme Court term usually ending in late June or early July, several major cases could be decided within the next few weeks.

WASHINGTON — Each year, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a multitude of cases. While some have narrow scopes that may initially affect only a handful of people, the decisions can set precedents with long-lasting impacts. Other cases have the potential to right away change millions of lives in the U.S. and reverse major policies at the state and federal level. 

This term is no exception and the court is dealing with a number of high-profile cases. 

With less than a month left in the court’s traditional term, and 29 cases left on the docket to be decided, it’s likely that several major decisions will be handed down within days of each other, if not at the same time. 

Remaining Supreme Court cases

Trump’s immunity claim

The court still has to rule on former president Donald Trump’s unprecedented claim that he can’t be criminally charged for criminal acts taken while he was in the White House. 

The case is significant because it will directly impact whether he will go to trial on charges of obstructing the 2020 election, a case that will likely fall after the 2024 election — unless Trump is re-elected and kills the case.

During the oral arguments, the justices appeared unwilling to accept Trump’s claim of blanket immunity, but several of the court’s conservative justices appeared interested in a line of questioning that would limit some lines of prosecution against a former president. 

January 6 cases

The Supreme Court has taken up a case about whether the law used to charge hundreds of defendants accused of taking part in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — as well as Donald Trump for allegedly encouraging the attack — was allowed to be used in that circumstance. 

The law was written in the wake of the Enron scandal, where important company documents were shredded by their accountants. It makes it a crime to obstruct or impede an official proceeding. While the law usually applies to trials, prosecutors have used it to charge Jan. 6 participants for disrupting the certification of the 2020 election results. 

If the court rules against the government, it could put hundreds of Jan. 6 cases and convictions at stake. 

Oral arguments didn’t give a clear picture of how the court would rule, with at least some of the conservative justices appearing skeptical of the government’s ability to charge the Jan. 6 defendants using the post-Enron law. 

Abortion medicine restrictions

Also on the court’s decision docket are a pair of abortion cases. The first involved whether a key medicine used in abortions should be limited. 

The case revolves around whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration improperly loosened restrictions on the drug, allowing it to be accessible by more people.

Mifepristone, one of two drugs used in combination to terminate pregnancies, came under fire from conservatives after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. As dozens of states have banned or limited abortion access since the decision, access to Mifepristone, has become a new flashpoint in the abortion debate. 

The justices appeared skeptical of the argument for limiting Mifepristone during oral arguments, asking questions that conveyed doubt about whether the anti-abortion doctors challenging the current availability of the drug had standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place. 

Emergency room abortions

The other major abortion case before the court is about when life-threatening pregnancies can be terminated in states with abortion bans. 

A federal law requires emergency rooms to care for life-threatening cases. In states with abortion bans or restrictions, the question has come up about whether doctors in emergency rooms have an obligation to perform abortions regardless of state law if the life of the mother is at stake. 

The court’s conservative majority appeared skeptical during oral arguments about the federal government’s claim that the law requires emergency abortion care. 

Gun ownership for domestic abusers

One of two major second amendment cases before the court this year asks whether a law requiring those subject to a domestic violence protective order to give up their guns is constitutional. 

During oral arguments, the court seemed inclined to allow the ban, potentially expanding the government’s ability to limit gun ownership if the owner is deemed a threat to another person. 

It’s one of the first cases to ask about the limits of a 2022 decision by the court that expanded the rights of gun owners by requiring the government to point to historical analogues when defending gun restrictions in court. 

Can bump stocks be federally banned?

The court is also ruling this term on a federal ban on bump stocks. The devices are attachments for rifles that can speed up how quickly bullets can be fired — essentially turning a semi-automatic gun into an automatic weapon. 

The ban was announced under the Trump administration after the deadly Las Vegas shooting in 2017, when a gunman used a bump stock-enabled rifle to kill dozens of people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. 

The justices are debating the government’s assertion that the bump stocks fit the legal definition of machine guns, which have been banned since the mid-80s. 

The justices again appeared divided during oral arguments, but expressed some desire to limit the carnage bump stocks have facilitated in the past.  

Federal agency power

The Supreme Court has also taken up a case that could have major long-term ramifications for how the federal government operates. The court is deciding whether lower courts should continue to defer reasonable interpretation of federal statutes to agency officials when they are left ambiguous. 

Under the current law, courts give a significant amount of leeway to federal agencies to interpret the laws related to their areas of expertise. Overturning the court’s own 1984 decision, which has been the standard for decades, would make it much easier for companies to sue federal agencies over regulations and enforcement. 

While proponents say this will give power back to the open market, critics say it will limit the government’s ability to regulate workplace safety, environmental pollution and countless other issues. 

The justices indicated during oral arguments they would be willing to severely limit, or outright revoke, the current policy; doing so would allow lower courts to interpret the laws used by federal agencies to enforce policy and regulation. 

Other cases

Along with hot button issues such as abortion and gun control, the Supreme Court has taken up a number of narrower cases that could have major ramifications. 

Among them are questions of whether states could prevent social media companies from removing certain political posts or accounts, whether the White House can ask tech companies to take action on misinformation, and whether a settlement related to the opioid crisis can legally shield the Purdue family (which owns Purdue Pharma) from personal liability. 

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