President Trump has announced Brett Kavanaugh as his pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is a conservative jurist who has served for over a decade on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He previously worked in the George W. Bush White House, and also worked with Kenneth Starr's team in the effort to impeach former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Notably, Kavanaugh has published scholarly commentary suggesting that Congress should pass a law insulating a sitting president from criminal indictment until after leaving office or being impeached, convicted, and removed from office; he has also written that civil lawsuits should be deferred while the president is in office. Some speculate that these writings could have influenced Trump's decision to nominate Kavanaugh given the mounting legal scrutiny Trump is facing. If Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate, he is expected to vote with the Court's conservative majority on issues including abortion, union rights, civil rights, and gun control.
As often happens in June, the Supreme Court released some of its most highly anticipated decisions of the term (many of them decided 5–4 along predictable divisions). This year was no different.
In one of the most highly anticipated decisions of the term, the US Supreme Court held today that states may require sellers who have no physical presence within the state to collect and remit sales taxes on goods sold to buyers in the state. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the majority, and Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch joined. The decision overrules two prior cases in which the Court established and upheld the so-called "physical-presence rule" for sales tax, citing drastic changes in the reality of shopping and commerce.
United States Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case on Arkansas Abortion Law Ending the Use of Medication Abortions
On Tuesday, May 29, 2018, the United States Supreme Court denied Planned Parenthood's petition for a writ of certiorari in Planned Parenthood of Arkansas & Eastern Oklahoma v. Jegley (8th Cir. 2017). At issue is an Arkansas abortion law that requires doctors who provide medication abortions to contract with a second doctor who has hospital admitting privileges. Arkansas has three abortion clinics, two of which only offer medication abortions; only the abortion clinic in Little Rock offers surgical abortions. Arkansas would become the seventh state to have only one abortion clinic should the law stand.
In a 6-3 opinion, the US Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal statute that prohibited most states from allowing sports betting. Ruling in favor of the State of New Jersey and against sports leagues including the NCAA, the Court found that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) contained provisions that violated a doctrine known as the anticommandeering rule under the 10th Amendment, meaning that the law represented an unconstitutional overreach into state sovereignty.