During the course of a calendar year, there are several constants, one of which is that the month of June marks the final month of a typical Supreme Court term and as we’ve seen numerous times over the past few years, it can be a very interesting month for the Court’s resident Kremlinologists, who watch every case that comes down from on high with the same needle-nose attention normally attributed to plane crash investigations.
This month is no exception: there are seven cases that the Court has yet to release decisions on that could have wide-ranging effects on America as a whole. Those seven are:
- National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning (12-1281), which could potentially all-but-gut a president’s power to recess appoint individuals to federal executive offices
- McCullen v. Coakley (12-1168), which could restrict state laws preventing abortion protesters from harassing women who wish to exercise their rights under Roe v. Wade; although the case only focuses on these abortion buffer zones, the effects of the case could reach well into other areas of free speech and protest
- Riley v. California (13-132) and United States v. Wurie (13-212), which could expand the right of law enforcement to have broad-ranging searches of individuals arrested for any potential reason
- Harris v. Quinn (11-681), which could prohibit public sector unions from requiring non-union individuals working in a union-represented shop to pay agency fees to the union in question; if the Court rules in this case as they did with a 2012 case (Knox v. SEIU) the Court could declare such fees unconstitutional, which would allow non-union members to keep the advantages of working in a union shop without having to pay for that representation
- Bond v. California (12-158), which could nullify the ability of the United States to enter into treaties and other international agreements by blocking the federal government’s ability to enforce said treaties within America’s borders..never mind the near-century of Court rulings that give Washington precisely that power. If the Court rules for Bond, the government’s power to enforce legally binding treaties could be sharply curtailed – which is, ironically, a long-held conservative goal.
- Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby (13-354), which raises the issue of whether employers can refuse to comply with federal laws requiring their insurance plans to cover the costs of birth control. This case could have really bad consequences for Americans, especially in regards to recent cases involving racial discrimination, gender discrimination, Social Security and LGBT rights by requiring government to show that any law which potentially could burden a corporation’s “religious freedom” to survive strict scrutiny. The fear on this one is that religious freedom – already being used in some quarters as a cudgel to discriminate against Americans – could become an even bigger cudgel, potentially nullifying a broad swath of constitutional law.