Image Credits: Supreme Court of the United States

Yesterday was the first Monday in October, marking the beginning of an exciting several months for law enthusiasts all across the country. The first Monday in October begins the United States Supreme Court’s 2017-2018 term. With the newly confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch settling into his position as the ninth member of the Court, there are several could-be landmark cases waiting for a final verdict. More than landmark cases, people across the country are keeping an eye on the possibility of a justice retiring this year, which would affect the balance of the Court for decades to come. With the start of this new term, here are some important decisions to keep an eye on.

1) Jennings v. Rodriguez

Brought up by a class of immigrants, this case deals with the question of whether non-citizens who are detained under the Immigration and Nationality Act can be held for extended periods of time without an entitlement to bond hearings and possible release.

Though a seemingly miniscule case, the Court’s decision here will affect the federal government’s authority over certain classes of immigrants. As a plus, understanding the justices’ positions in Jennings could give some insight into where the justices may stand on the issue of President Trump’s travel ban.

2) Gill v. Whitford

Dealing with the issue of partisan gerrymandering, this case brings a constitutional challenge to Wisconsin’s Republic redistricting plan that was signed into law in 2011. Democrats argue that their votes will be systematically diluted through this plan, violating the “one person, one vote” principle established in the previous case of Baker v. Carr. At issue since the case of Baker has been whether partisan gerrymandering cases are justiciable, or able to be ruled on by the Court. This case will hopefully further aid the Court in establishing a test to determine how much is too much of a role for race and politics to play into gerrymandering.

3)  Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

This is a case that generated quite a bit of press over the past year. When a gay couple requested that the owner of Materpiece Cakeshop create a cake for their wedding, he declined to do so on account of his religious beliefs. The couple has argued that his refusal to make them a cake constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. At battle in this case are the two fundamental ideas of LGBTQ+ rights and religious liberties. Does the Colorado law compelling the baker to make a cake violate the First Amendment? No matter which was it come out, the justices’ decision in this case will alter the course of these two competing fundamental rights.

4) Carpenter v. United States

After the federal government used cellular evidence to charge Timothy Carpenter with aiding and abetting robbery, Carpenter argued that the governments’ use of such evidence violated the right to privacy and the protection against unreasonable search and seizures in the Fourth Amendment. The Court has previously protected individuals Fourth Amendment rights and the right to privacy. With rampant technology advances, the question of what the federal government needs a warrant to obtain has become increasingly unclear. The Court’s ruling in this case could affect other areas of technology that are often used to convict criminals such a surveillance tapes.

Finally, though not a case, the question of whether Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire after this term is one that has been floating around since this past June. If Justice Kennedy retires in the next couple of years, that will likely mean that President Trump will be able to name his replacement. Previously, Kennedy has played the swing vote in several landmark cases. He has voted with the more conservative justices sometimes and the more liberal justices other times. If the nominee to replace Justice Kennedy is even remotely akin to Justice Gorsuch, a new justice could easily alter the political balance of the court. This means the court could favor the conservatives more than it typically has.

Regardless of what comes out of this United States Supreme Court term, it will almost certainly make the history books.

Emily W
FFL Cabinet
Emily is an aspiring Elle Woods with a hint of Nancy Reagan. Searching for cute dogs on instagram is only a side hobby to politics. When she's not teaching people about conservatism in Starbucks, you can catch her meeting princesses at Disney or binge watching Gilmore Girls and The West Wing for the millionth time.

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