Supreme Court October ’15 Docket


On October 5, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States will begin its next term. The Court usually reviews about 70 cases per term.  Ten cases have been set for oral argument in October, and another 10 will be heard in November. The Court’s docket includes cases involving the death penalty, affirmative action, unions, civil asset forfeiture, and more.

This terms notable cases include:

  • Campbell-Ewald Company v. Gomez, which concerns whether a case becomes moot when the plaintiff receives an offer of complete relief on his claim;
  • Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo, which concerns class certification where statistical methods are used to establish liability and damages;
  • Spokeo v. Robins, which concerns Article III standing and statutory damages;
  • Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which concerns affirmative action in admissions. Abigail Fisher’s equal protection challenge to the use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions at the University of Texas was already heard by the Court in 2013.  In Fisher I, the Court held that schools must prove their use of race in admissions decisions is narrowly tailored to further compelling governmental interests and that courts must look at actual evidence and not rely on schools’ assurances of their good intentions. Fisher is back before the Court to consider whether the the University of Texas’ new diversity rationale can survive strict scrutiny review.
  • Evenwel v. Abbott, deals with whether the “one-person, one-vote” redistricting principle allows States to use total population, rather than the States voter population, when apportioning state legislative districts;
  • Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which concerns whether the fair-share fees requirement for union dues is a violation of their First Amendment rights, since they’re being forced to fund causes they may not support — this would determine whether Abood v. Detroit Board of Education should be overruled ;
  • Kansas v. GleasonKansas v. CarrMontgomery v. LouisianaFoster v. Humphrey, and Hurst v. Florida, which involve issues of the death penalty.

The Court also may take up cases involving abortion, another challenge to Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, solitary confinement, and the seizure of cell phone data by law enforcement.

Regarding the pending cases involving abortion, the Court is considering issues involving abortion physician admitting privileges laws.

In recent years, several state legislatures have passed laws requiring abortion physicians to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Mississippi passed such a law in 2012, and the state’s only licensed abortion clinic challenged the law in court, arguing that such a requirement imposed an undue burden on women seeking to obtain abortions. The new law required that all clinic doctors have admitting privileges, and local hospitals rejected the applications from two of the Mississippi clinic’s three doctors, in part because they were from out of state. Texas passed a similar law, which also resulted in a lawsuit.

In Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, the Fifth Circuit upheld Texas’ law, finding that the law advanced Texas’ interest in maternal health and increased the quality of care. Meanwhile, in Currier v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Fifth Circuit, but with a different three-judge panel, ruled against Mississippi’s law since it would require women seeking an abortion to go to another state, noting that a state may not “lean on its sovereign neighbors to provide protection of its citizens’ constitutional rights.”