Between now and the end of June, the Court will release opinions in 24 cases. Two hot-button political issues have garnered the most attention: (1) whether the Trump administration can put a citizenship question on the 2020 census, and (2) whether federal courts can strike down voting maps as excessively partisan.
Though we have no way of knowing precisely when a decision will be released, legal commentators have long speculated that Supreme Court Justices prefer to release their most controversial opinions at the end of each term, days before embarking on summer recess to travel, teach, and write.
Here’s a look at the Court’s highest-profile outstanding opinions:
The 2020 Census
No. 18-966; Department of Commerce v. New York
The Trump administration wants 2020 census-takers to ask about the citizenship of every person in the United States. Administration officials say the practice dates back to 1820, though the question hasn’t been posed to every household since 1950. The federal government alleges that the Department of Justice needs the data to better enforce voting rights laws, but opponents believe that some households – particularly those of Hispanic descent – may not respond.
The challenge to the citizenship question was filed by 38 plaintiffs, including prominent civil rights groups, the States of New York and Colorado, and New York City, among others.
The Justices are considering challenges to two districting voting maps considered so extreme as to “undermine democracy.” The first, a North Carolina congressional map, was drawn by Republicans explicitly in search of a partisan advantage. The second, a Maryland district map, was designed by Democrats to oust a specific Republican lawmaker.
The Supreme Court has never struck down a voting map as so partisan it violates the Constitution. However, the Justices granted and vided these two petitions despite having ruled on a similar districting map just last term.
In a battle over the constitutionality of a 40-foot cross that serves as a World War I memorial, the Court is expected to revamp its tests for resolving disputes over religious symbols located in the public sphere.
No. 18-302; Iancu v. Brunetti
The Lanham Act, which prohibits the registration of certain trademarks, is at apparent odds with protections provided by the First Amendment. Here, the Justices will consider whether a prohibition on the registration of a scandalous or immoral clothing line mark (“FUCT”) is unconstitutional.
No. 18-15; Kisor v. Wilkie
In a case that arose over post-traumatic-stress disorder benefits for a Vietnam War veteran, the Court will consider whether to overturn a ruling that requires judges to defer to regulatory agencies like the Department of Veteran Affairs when they interpret their own regulations (a doctrine known as “Auer deference”).
Double Jeopardy Revisited
No. 17-646; Gamble v. United States
When Terance Gamble was pulled over by police for a faulty headlight, officers found drugs and a gun. He was (1) charged with violating state drug laws, and (2) charged under both state and federal laws with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Gamble argued that prosecuting him on the federal gun charge would violate the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause, which guarantees that no one can be charged twice for the same offense.