The Court still has dozens of undecided cases left on its docket. Last year, the court issued the last opinion of the term on Thursday, June 29, 2006. With last year in mind, we can expect the next few weeks to be equally packed with cases. The Court released 25 cases in its last three weeks in its 2005 term (2005-2006) and the 2006 term (2006-2007) has 22 cases left on the docket. If you consider the probable Per Curiam reversal of lower courts in a few cases, the court is likely to see the same type of rush to the finish that it saw last year. This year, like in the past, the court has put off some of its most important cases for the end. Here is a preview of the cases that are left:
Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education- In Meredith, a young girl was forced to attend a school nearly an hour from her house because the school system had in place a strict racial quota on each school. The court said in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger in 2002 that strict racial quotas are unconstitutional in the collegiate setting. There is conflict as to whether elementary schools are sufficiently different as to allow a reconsideration of racial quotas.
Meredith was argued on December 4, 2006 and is therefore the oldest outstanding case on the docket.
Hein v. Freedom From Religion- There are two issues in Hein; Taxpayer standing and faith-based initiatives. The organization ‘Freedom From Religion’ filed suit against Jay F. Hein, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives claiming that their tax money was being appropriated to something unconstitutional. I wrote about the oral arguments extensively here.
Hein was argued on February 28, 2007 and is therefore the fourth oldest outstanding case on the docket.
Morse v. Fredrick- This is the now infamous ‘Bong Hits 4 Jesus’ case. Joseph Fredrick held a banner outside of his school with the aforementioned sign and was consequently suspended from school for 10 days. He claims that it was outside of class and the school claims that it was during a school sponsored event. I wrote about the case in great length (my longest post thus far) here.
Morse was argued on February 19, 2007 and is therefore the fifth oldest outstanding case on the docket.
FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life- This case, and its sister case Senator McCain v. Wisconsin Right to Life, involve federal election campaign financing. During oral arguments, Justice Scalia stated very clearly that he had no aversion to overturning McConnell, the case upon much of the precedent for this one is located.
Wisconsin Right to Life was argued on April 25, 2007 and is therefore the second most recent outstanding case on the docket.
Those are the big cases the docket and here are some smaller, but equally interesting topics.
Rita v. US- The court here considers whether or not a sentence imposed within the guidelines of a statute are always ‘reasonable.’ Rita claims that mitigating evidence was not adequately considered before imposing a sentence on him and the US claims that he doesn’t have grounds to appeal because his sentence was reasonable in the first place. This is the sister case to Claiborne v. US which was thrown out last week.
PowerEx v. Relient Energy- This case revolves around how a foreign organization falls into US guidelines for immunity. The merits of the case aren’t particularly intriguing, but the opinion on this case has potential to incite a riot if it cites too much foreign law. That has become one of the hot-button issues on the court recently and this opinion will have to tread very carefully to avoid a firestorm of criticism.