Supreme Court Ends Term With Blockbuster Decisions, News

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.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Janus v. State, County, and Municipal Employees (June 27, 2018): States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from non-consenting employees (5–4 decision).
  • National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra (June 26, 2018): California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act likely violates the First Amendment. The unlicensed notice unduly burdens protected speech (5–4 decision).
  • Trump v. Hawaii (June 26, 2018): President Trump lawfully exercised the broad discretion granted to him under 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) to issue Proclamation No. 9645, suspending the entry of aliens into the United States, and the Proclamation does not violate the Establishment Clause (5–4 decision).
  • Abbott v. Perez (June 25, 2018): A 2013 Texas redistricting plan approved by a district court was not tainted by the bias of a previous legislature and that certain districts were invalid as having the effect of depriving Latinos of the equal opportunity to elect their candidates of choice (5–4 decision).
  • Carpenter v. United States (June 22, 2018): Obtaining cell-site location information constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment, requiring a warrant supported by probable cause (5–4 decision).
  • South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. (June 21, 2018): Overruling its own precedent requiring physical presence in the state, the Supreme Court holds that states may require out-of-state sellers to collect and remit sales tax (5–4 decision).

A few weeks ago, on June 4, the Court released one of its other highly anticipated decisions in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, but its holding in that case (involving a clash between the free speech rights of a vendor on the one hand and anti-discrimination laws on the other) was narrower than expected and the justices divided 7–2.

The biggest groundbreaking news of the week, however, was Justice Anthony Kennedy’s announcement that he is retiring, effective July 31, 2018. His vacancy will give President Donald Trump the opportunity to appoint a conservative justice, shifting the Court significantly to the right.