What you need to know…
The Supreme Court has several crucial opinions to hand down in the coming weeks before its current term expires.
The rulings present both Republicans and Democrats with opportunities and risks in a high-stakes election year. They could easily return the spotlight to the subject of future Supreme Court vacancies amid the homestretch of the presidential election and motivate one side, the other, or both!
Regardless, here are the cases you need to know about:
(H/T The Hill)
Trump’s Taxes and Financial Records
While listening to oral arguments on the validity of disputed subpoenas to review President Trump’s financial records, the nine Supreme Court justices appeared split along ideological lines. Conservatives expressed concerns over the risk of granting Congress too vast of powers and the prospect of presidential harassment. Liberals, in contrast, voiced their opposition to unnecessarily restricting lawmakers.
According to the transcripts, the Justices appeared more closely aligned on the issue of making President Trump’s tax returns public. While Trump’s lawyer argued that presidents deserve blanket immunity from the criminal process, the Justices struggled to reconcile that with previous rulings against Presidents Nixon and Clinton.
Protections for Gay and Transgender Employees
Two cases before the Court will decide if civil rights laws as written protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination.
The cases hinge on the wording of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
Social conservatives argue that Congress didn’t foresee the definition of the word “sex” to evolve to include one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Legal protections for LGBT employees could be drastically changed depending on how the majority of the Court views interpreting statutory language.
Deportation Protection for DREAMers
The Trump administration expects the Supreme Court will deliver a narrow victory for the president by giving him the authority to end protections afforded the 700,000 or so DREAMers, as classified under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
But no one expects Trump to end the program immediately. The consensus inside the Beltway remains that Trump will use a legal victory as leverage to strike an immigration deal on favorable terms. However, Democrats, ever hopeful that the White House and Senate will be in their hands come November, might stall.
Resolution may not come from the Court, but rather the ballot box after voters decide who was victorious in the court of public opinion.
Louisiana’s Abortion Law
The first significant Supreme Court case in the Trump-era centering on abortion focuses on Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act. If allowed to resume, the law could put two of the state’s three abortion clinics out of business.
The issue is whether or not the Act constitutes an undue burden by requiring doctors who perform abortions to admit patients to local hospitals. They argue “admitting privileges” are challenging to obtain.
In 2016, the Court ruled 5-3 against a similar Texas law with then-Justice Anthony Kennedy joining the liberal bloc. Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the rest of the conservatives. Under Trump, the Court has shifted further right with Roberts closest to its ideological center.
Four years later all eyes are on Roberts. Although he sided in favor of Texas’ remarkably similar law, the Chief Justice has a penchant for institutionalism and may decide to vote in line with prior Supreme Court rulings.
A group of “faithless electors” from Colorado and Washington have taken their case to vote for whomever they want rather than the winner of their state’s popular vote to the Supreme Court.
Their lawyers intend to make the Electoral College so unpalatable public opinion turns against it forever. While the Justices appeared uneasy by the prospect of unleashing electors to vote their conscience (Samuel Alito said it could lead to “chaos”), it remains unclear how the court will rule on the states’ ability to regulate their electors.