The Progressive’s 2014 Predictions: SCOTUS

by Madhu Ramankutty –

2013 was a big year for the Supreme Court. From Marriage Equality to Affirmative Action to Section 4 of the VRA, the issues that SCOTUS considered this past year were wide in scope. So what can we expect in 2014? 

Credits to NY Times

Credits to The New York Times

2013 was a big year for the Supreme Court. From Marriage Equality to Affirmative Action to Section 4 of the VRA, the issues that SCOTUS considered this past year were wide in scope. Since December 11, the nine justices have taken a small recess and will begin issuing opinions and hearing cases again starting on January 13. This winter break is an opportunity for the justices not only to enjoy a holiday break but also to catch up with writing decisions and prepare for the new docket of cases. So what can we expect in 2014?

First, we can expect SCOTUS to make some big decisions about cases heard in the last term—specifically concerning the following issues:

  • Campaign Donations: Whether federal restrictions on total contributions individuals can make to candidates, parties, and PACS in a two-year cycle is in violation of the first amendment.
  • Affirmative Action: Whether Michigan’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that forbids preference on grounds of race and gender is in violation of equal protection
  • Separation of Church and State: Whether local governments are violating a First Amendment ban on establishment of religion by opening their meetings with predominately Christian prayers

Second, SCOTUS will hear a docket of entirely new cases. The first case that the justices will hear upon their return from break concerns the constitutionality of President Obama’s recess appointments. Specifically, the Court will interpret the recess appointments clause of the Constitution to determine the constitutionality of Obama’s three recess appointments to the NLRB. The court will also hear new challenges to the health care law in two separate cases where owners of businesses are arguing that a requirement to provide health insurance that includes coverage for birth control violates their own religious beliefs.

A final consideration for 2014 is whether any of the justices will retire. Many Democrats are hopeful that Justice Ginsburg or Justice Breyer will retire soon—within Obama’s final term—in order to maintain a guaranteed liberal seat on the bench. But Justice Ginsburg has been quite clear that she has no intentions to leave the court anytime soon and will continue to work as long as she is able; Justice Breyer, similarly, has shown no signs that he is ready to step down.

So 2014 will be an exciting year for SCOTUS, and we’re eagerly awaiting some major decisions and events.

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