The Court has already granted certiorari in nearly 40 cases turning on important questions, including the limits of free speech online, the racial composition of legislative districts, the treatment of pregnant workers, and the regulation of church advertising.
All of the accepted cases are expected to be heard before the end of the calendar year. Keep coming back to Constitution Daily for the latest news and analysis as these cases develop.
Elonis v. United States In this case originating near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the 30-year-old Anthony Elonis is challenging a 44-month prison sentence for posts on Facebook that appeared to threaten his wife with violence. The Court will decide whether it is enough that a “reasonable person” would view his comments as a serious threat, or if Elonis’ “subjective intent” changes the calculation.
Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama With little over a year passed since Shelby County v. Holder, the justices are again set to weigh in on voting rights in two consolidated cases. The Alabama state legislature is accused of “racial gerrymandering”—that is, redrawing the legislative map to pack greater numbers of minority voters into fewer districts. The state says the map is true to the previous racial composition of those districts; minority lawmakers say it unjustly dilutes constituent power.
Young v. United Parcel Service Peggy Young, a part-time truck driver for UPS, asked her employer to relieve her of lifting packages greater than 20 pounds during her pregnancy. The company refused, even though Young insists the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires employers to provide accommodations to pregnant women similar to accommodations provided to non-pregnant workers. The Court will resolve the question.
Reed v. Town of Gilbert An ordinance in the town of Gilbert, Arizona, distinguishes “political” or “ideological” signs from other non-commercial signs—like those displayed by the Good News Community Church. The church is asking the Court to strike down the law because it is not “content-neutral” and therefore violates the First Amendment—perhaps an echo of McCullen v. Coakley.
Mach Mining v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission This case features an Illinois mining company that was sued by the EEOC over alleged gender discrimination. The company argues that the EEOC did not make an honest effort to negotiate a settlement before trial—a requirement of federal law. The Court will determine what precisely the standard should be for enforcing that effort.
Kellogg Brown & Root v. United States The former Halliburton subsidiary is accused of defrauding the U.S. government in Iraq for water-purification services never actually performed. The case turns in part on whether or not the U.S. was “at war” when former employee Benjamin Carter brought the charge. If so, his claim is protected by the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act.
Zivotofsky v. Kerry The parents of Menachem B. Zivotofsky, born in Jerusalem in 2002, wish for Israel to be listed as their son’s place of birth on his passport. Federal law requires the State Department to recognize Israel as such for all such citizens born there. However, both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have claimed that the law “impermissibly interferes” with the president’s authority over foreign affairs.
Comptroller v. Wynne This so-called “double taxation” case centers on the Wynne family, who claims that the state of Maryland must offer a tax credit for income tax paid to other states as well as Maryland. That is currently true for state taxes, but not true for county taxes—and there’s the rub. The Wynnes see a violation of the Commerce Clause; the state believes it is justified under Due Process jurisprudence.
Gelboim v. Bank of America Since 2011, investors have filed dozens of lawsuits against banks accused of conspiring to set Libor, a global interest rate charged for many short-term interbank loans. Last year, a federal judge dismissed their antitrust claims—a key part of the suits. The Court will determine if those investors can appeal on antitrust grounds separate from their other claims.
Jesinoski v. Countryside
Larry and Cheryle Jesinoski seek to rescind a 2007 mortgage with Countryside under the Truth in Lending Act, which permits such an action if the lender failed to provide the borrower with particular information. But lower courts are split or whether the law requires the couple to bring a lawsuit, or simply to send a letter, in order to redeem that protection.
Nicandro Iannacci is a web strategist at the National Constitution Center.
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