Here are the most important cases before the Supreme Court this fall

Here’s a look at some of the key cases the Supreme Court will hear in the semester beginning October 3.

Race and college admissions

Do Harvard and the University of North Carolina violate the Constitution and federal civil rights law by granting an advantage to eligible black and Latino applicants and discriminating against Asian American students?

Since the 1978 University of California Governors case v. Buck, the court has held that colleges and universities may consider race a “plus factor” for black and Latino applicants to create a more diverse class.

But conservatives in court have long opposed the affirmative action, contending that the law prohibits consideration of an applicant’s race.

Students will be debated for fair admission versus Harvard University and SFFA versus UNC on October 31.

Race and voting rights

Does the Voting Rights Act advocate fair and equal representation for blacks and Latinos, sometimes requiring states to draw constituencies most likely to elect a black or Latino candidate?

Alabama attorneys call this a form of “apartheid” and urge the court to adopt a “race-neutral” rule that frees states from the duty to fairly represent racial minorities.

About 27% of Alabama’s population is black, but only one of the seven congressional districts has a black majority under the state map.

Merrill vs Milligan will be debated on October 4.

Party manipulation and legislation in the States

Does the state legislature have “independent” and exclusive power to set the rules for federal elections, or can the state Supreme Court or the governor play a role as well?

The issue arose when Republican lawmakers in North Carolina drew a highly partisan electoral map that ensured the Republican Party would hold 10 of the 14 seats in Congress.

But the state Supreme Court ruled that the map was unfair and violated the state constitution, and the justices drew a new map. Now Republican lawmakers are urging judges to rule that map-making power rests with them alone.

Election law experts fear that such a ruling could encourage party lawmakers to interfere in the 2024 presidential election.

Moore vs. Harper will be heard in December.

Religion, freedom of expression and same-sex marriage

Does a Colorado website designer who is a conservative Christian have a free speech right to refuse to work on wedding plans for a same-sex couple, or does this discrimination violate state civil rights law?

Four years ago, judges wrestled with that question in a Masterpiece Cakeshop case involving a baker of wedding cakes, but failed to address the question of free speech.

The Colorado plaintiff’s ruling could affect California and 20 other states that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

303 Creative vs.Eenis will be heard in December.

Wetlands and clean water

Can wetlands normally be protected from development under the Clean Water Act or only if they are part of a permanent, flowing body of water?

Federal law states that the EPA may protect “US waters” from contaminants, but it is not clear whether the agency’s authority extends to seasonal streams or wetlands not directly connected to a lake, river, or bay.

Saket will discuss vs. the EPA on October 3.

Pork Producers in California and the Midwest

Can California voters demand that pork sold in the state come from farms where the animals are not “abused” and where enough space is provided for pigs to stand and turn?

Midwestern farmers say 99% of the pork sold in California comes from outside the state, and they say state rules will force them to make costly changes to their operations.

The court will hear their complaint that Proposition 12 of 2018 is unconstitutional because it conflicts with interstate commerce.

The National Council of Pork Producers will debate against Ross on October 11th.

Biden and Immigration Enforcement

Can the Biden administration enforce only guidelines calling for the arrest and deportation of immigrants who pose a present danger to public safety, or does the law require the arrest and removal of anyone with a criminal record or final removal order?

The department said immigration officials always have broad discretion in law enforcement, but a Texas judge blocked use of the new guidelines.

By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court in July rejected an emergency request to overturn the judge’s order.

The US vote against Texas will likely be heard in December.

Native Americans and child adoption

Does the Indian Child Welfare Act interfere with the state’s authority over adoption and the issue of adoption, and unfairly limit adoptions by parents who are not members of the child’s tribe?

Congress adopted this measure in 1978 to prevent Native American children from being expelled from the tribes, but Texans and three spouses suing the law goes too far.

Haaland vs. Bracken will be heard on November 9.

Andy Warhol and the Prince

Did Andy Warhol just take advantage of Lynne Goldsmith’s 1981 portrait of the Prince by turning it into something new and different in the 1984 Silkscreen Prince series, or did he infringe her copyright because his work is clearly derived from hers?

This is an important issue for copyright law because judges are divided over whether modifications of copyrighted material can be used freely if they are sufficiently “transformative.”

The Andy Warhol Foundation vs. Goldsmith will be discussed on October 12.

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