Top 5 SCOTUS Cases to Watch This Fall

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019


The new term for the Supreme Court is starting soon, and there are some big cases coming up in October and November. Ranging from warrantless searches to sexual orientation discrimination, decisions this term may greatly impact the criminal justice system and workplace policies.

 

  • Ramos v. Louisiana 

 

The Supreme Court will soon be hearing arguments on whether a unanimous jury verdict is constitutionally guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment and incorporated to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The Petitioner argues that precedent (past case rulings) indicates that the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a unanimous jury based on historical context and intent of the framers, and that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Bill of Rights. A further point they make is that Louisiana’s history of racism after the Civil War led to the use of non-unanimous juries which results in discrimination against minority defendants and jurrors. The State argues however that a unanimous verdict is not stated in the Constitution, and that even if this was standard at the time, things in court are allowed to change. If the Court rules that non-unanimous juries are unconstitutional, it will be interesting to see how it affects past convictions in states that have not used unanimous juries. 

 

 

  • Kahler v. Kansas 

 

Another case on the docket brings up the question of whether a state can constitutionally ban the use of an insanity defense. The petitioner is arguing that that type of ban would violate both the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by unfairly targeting the mentally-ill. On the other hand, the respondent argues that this only targets those who intentionally committed a crime, regardless of whether they knew it was wrong, which they argue is not unconstitutional, as well as that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that there is no Constitutional right to a specific insanity defense. If the Court rules that a state can ban the insanity defense, this may result in mentally-ill people not receiving the treatment they need and higher recidivism rates.

 

 

  • Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia

 

There are a number of cases this term that will focus on whether workplaces can discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This case, which has been consolidated with Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, in particular concerns whether sexual orientation is protected through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Petitioner argues that discrimination based upon sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination that is clearly stated in the Act. However one of the respondent’s main arguments is that the definition of sex discrimination at the time of the legislation did not include orientation. If the Court sides with the petitioner, religious organizations may feel it is a violation of the Free-Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

 

 

  • Kansas v. Glover

 

The Court will be looking at this case which concerns the Fourth Amendment and whether it is reasonable for an officer to believe, with no contradicting information, that the registered owner of the car is the driver. In this case, an arrest was made as the officer knew that the owner of the car had a revoked license, and was under the impression that the driver was said owner. The State argues that the officer in question had reasonable suspicion, that the Kansas Supreme Court’s standard did not align with past Supreme Court decisions, and that stops like these are important to public safety. On the other hand, the respondent argues that reasonable suspicion was not established and that these types of stops place a serious burden on Americans’ freedom.

 

 

  • Trump v. NAACP

 

This may be one of the most publicized cases of the term, as it concerns whether it is lawful for the Department of Homeland Security to start to close the DACA program, as well as if the Court even has the power to rule on it. The petitioner in this case, the Trump Administration, argues that the case is not reviewable in court as the government has the right to control laws regarding immigration, especially as they believe the DACA policy is illegal. The NAACP argues however that closing the program is not lawful, as DHS did not provide a reason for doing so. The parties have not filed their official briefs, just opposition/reply briefs,  so it will be interesting to see what their finalized arguments are, how the court will rule on this, and if they even have the judicial power to do so.

 

The rulings on these cases may result in wide-sweeping changes across the country, so make sure to keep an eye on the Supreme Court over the next few months.

 

 

Information regarding these cases was gathered from briefs posted on scotusblog.com 

https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/terms/ot2019/

Isabel Nulter is a Junior at Framingham State University where she is studying Criminology and Psychology. She is passionate about Limited Government and Photography, and never leaves the house without a good book!

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Isabel Nulter

Isabel Nulter is a Junior at Framingham State University where she is studying Criminology and Psychology. She is passionate about Limited Government and Photography, and never leaves the house without a good book!

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