Supreme Court tracker: Two decision days this week

The third week of June could be a big one for the Supreme Court, as decisions are now expected on two separate days on Monday, June 16,  and Thursday, June 19.

So far this term, the nine Justices have handed down rulings on affirmative action, campaign finance, public prayer, treaty obligations and pollution regulations as the Court hits the homestretch for the 2013-2014 term.

Among the other decisions expected from the Court is the first big ruling on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, since June 2012; a pair of significant cellphone privacy cases; another huge environmental law case; and decisions that could limit presidential recess appointment powers and the ability of the U.S. to carry out international treaties domestically.

Here is a rundown of the cases. (Note: The Court doesn’t necessarily issue decisions chronologically based on when arguments are heard. So a case heard in November arguments can be decided in late June.)

To be decided in June 2014:

National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning (heard Jan. 13, 2014)

This high-profile case asks the Court to interpret the breadth of the President Obama’s constitutional authority to make appointments during Senate recesses. The Court is considering a balance of power issue between the President and the legislative branch.

McCullen v. Coakley (heard Jan. 15, 2014)

This case is about Massachusetts’s selective exclusion law – which makes it a crime for public speakers other than clinic “employees or agents . . . acting within the scope of their employment” to protest within 35 feet of a reproductive health care facility.

Harris v. Quinn (Argued January 21, 2014)

An argument in Illinois over home-care union workers, and their refusal to pay their “fair share” of the cost for union representation, could have much-bigger national implications.

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius (heard March 25, 2014)

The second big test in the Supreme Court over the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare is about exceptions to Obamacare’s requirements relating to religious freedom.

In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the national hobby and crafts chain store asked the Court to take on the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate that applies to for-profit companies with religious convictions.

In the Conestoga Wood case, a Mennonite family-owned, profit-making business claims that the ACA’s birth control mandate violates the company’s rights under the First Amendment free exercise clause and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo (heard April 22, 2014)

The highly publicized case involves a copyright battle between Aereo, a tech TV startup, and the major television networks that could affect the future of broadcast television and cloud computing.

Riley v. California and U.S. v. Wurie (heard April 29, 2014)

Both cases examine the power of the police, acting without a search warrant in certain circumstances, to look at information stored on a cellphone taken from a suspect at the time of an arrest.

The Greenhouse Cases (heard February 24, 2014)

A group of six cases, with Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, as the lead case, focuses on federal government’s power to limit the amount of “greenhouse gases” that enter the atmosphere, under powers granted in the Clean Air Act.

Already decided this term:

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus (heard April 22, 2014; decided June 16, 2014)

Susan B. Anthony List v. Steven Driehaus was about the ability of two groups to challenge a controversial Ohio statute that punishes people for making false statements during political campaigns. It drew a lot of media attention, including a rather remarkable brief filed by humorist P.J. O’Rourke.

A unanimous Court said that the two groups had Article III standing to sue about the law, but the Court didn’t rule on the law’s constitutionality. So for now, the case heads back to a lower court.

Bond v. U.S. (heard Nov. 1, 2013, decided, June 2, 2014)

Chief Justice John Roberts says in a unanimous decision that a woman convicted of trying to poison her best friend should have been tried under a state law, and not an international treaty about chemical weapons. The decision doesn’t affect a landmark 1920 Supreme Court decision: Missouri v. Holland, which gave Congress the power to pass laws to carry out the U.S. government’s obligations under international treaties.

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (decided April 2, 2014)

Chief Justice John Roberts and four other justices struck down general limits on how much money can be spent on federal political campaigns over a two-year period.

Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (decided April 22, 2014)

The Court decided that states could restrict their use of affirmative action programs in university admissions and at other public institutions.

EPA v. Homer (decided April 29, 2014)

A divided Supreme Court upholds the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which allows the EPA to consider costs when determining the extent to which upwind states must reduce the regulated air pollutant emissions for the benefit of downwind states.

Town of Greece v. Galloway (decided May 5, 2014)

A divided Court upheld prayers at public government meetings, in what could be a historically significant moment for the religious Establishment clause in the First Amendment.

Hall v. Florida (decided May 27, 2014)

A divided Supreme Court said that Florida’s use of IQ tests as final evidence to determine death penalty eligibility is unconstitutional.

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