With the Supreme Court once again fully staffed, the top U.S. judicial branch will begin tackling a slew of controversial issues that will have a strong impact on many Americans. This is the court’s first term with new justice Neil Gorsuch, who was appointed by President Trump. The court has decided to hear 43 cases so far. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently commented that she expects this session will be “momentous.” Below are some of the most highly anticipated cases the justices will be deciding: (Sources: NPR, Washington Post, CNN)
Gerrymandering: In Gill v. Whitford, the court is being asked to decide whether Wisconsin lawmakers engaged in extreme redrawing of legislative district lines to advance the party’s own power, the process of which is called “gerrymandering.” A lower court previously ruled the redrawing as unconstitutional. Challengers to the state’s new map claim that Republicans divided Democrats among districts so they fell short of a majority. Wisconsin officials argue that a Supreme Court upholding the lower court ruling could mean nearly one-third of U.S. redistricting plans drawn up in the last 45 years could be challenged.
Voter Rolls: Husted v. Philip Randolph Institute could decide how states can remove voters from their rolls. Ohio removes voters who have been inactive and then fail to respond to notices from the state over four years. But an appeals court agreed with civil rights activists who said the practice violates federal law, which says registration cannot be canceled for “a failure to vote.”
Cellphone Tracking: Carpenter v. the United States will decide whether law enforcement can obtain location data from service providers without a warrant. The plaintiff in the case, Timothy Carpenter, claims police violated his fourth amendment rights when they used location data to show his proximity to two separate stores that were robbed in 2010 and 2011. A lower court ruled that cellphone customers have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the records held by service providers. The Supreme Courts ruling on this might have greater reach than just location data, paving the way for warrantless access to other cellphone data, including texts and emails.
Sports Betting: Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association tests whether a federal law banning sports betting is unconstitutional on the grounds that it forces states to comply with a federal mandate. The case stems from New Jersey, where the Governor’s office has been trying to overturn the law in order to allow the state’s casinos and racetracks to participate in sports betting. Legal experts believe if New Jersey wins their case, sports gambling could spread across the country at an exponential rate.
Religious Freedom: One of the most controversial cases on the docket this term concerns a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Jack Phillips refused to make it on the grounds of religious freedom, saying he is opposed to same-sex marriage. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission contends Phillips’ actions violate the state’s so-called public accommodations law, which prohibits businesses from discriminating against customers based on their sexual orientation. Defenders of the state statute say a ruling in Phillips’ favor would establish a constitutional right to discriminate.
Immigration: The Supreme Court again tackles whether non-U.S. citizens scheduled to be deported can be kept in jail indefinitely. Jennings v. Rodriguez will determine whether a lower court ruling the requires a bail hearing be set within six-months can stand. That ruling also said potential deportees had the right to be granted bail if they pose no danger to the public. The government contends that noncitizens are not entitled to such expectations.
Arbitration: Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis will answer whether employers can force workers to settle disputes through individual arbitration, rather than collectively. The Obama administration sided with workers, saying forced arbitration clauses are illegal under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. However, the Trump administration has switched sides, saying companies are correct under the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925. The Supreme Court has historically favored private arbitration over class-action lawsuits.
Union Dues: The court hears a second workers’ rights case, Janus v. American Federation of State, questioning whether government workers who choose not to join unions may be forced to pay for the unions’ collective bargaining work. If the court rules against the unions, millions of government workers in more than 20 states could be allowed to opt out of paying for collective bargaining, depriving unions of vast sums of money.