Justice Kavanaugh was sworn in less than a year ago. He now joins the bench with four female law clerks supporting him, the first all female clerk team in Supreme Court history. Of course, every term of the Supreme Court is different and it can change as it develops, but here’s five Supreme Court cases you should be paying attention to.

Madison v Alabama

The argument for Madison v Alabama happened on October 2, 2018. At the heart of the case is whether a state, Alabama, can execute someone who has a mental disability according to the 8th Amendment which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The individual in question, Vernon Madison, has vascular dementia and has had multiple strokes and has no recollection of his crimes or understanding of his impending execution, according to his counsel. Madison killed a police officer over 30 years ago. Death penalty cases are always interesting since it is such a divisive issue and while this may be a narrow case, it may have greater meaning for death penalty analysis going forward.

Nielsen v Preap

The argument for Nielsen v Preap is scheduled for October 10, 2018. The question being asked is, if an illegal alien becomes exempt from mandatory detention if ICE doesn’t take him into custody immediately after he is released from criminal custody. Immigration cases are always hot button issues. The case relates to two men, who resided in the country illegally, and had previous criminal convictions. However, their deportation proceedings were not started for years after their criminal release, but still relied on these holdings in the process. They argue that they should not have to be detained during the proceedings because of the wording of the law, but the Court will be the ultimate judge on that matter.

Republic of Sudan v Harrison

This case will be argued before the Court on November 7, 2018. This case is international, and therefore very complicated. Essentially, those involved want to know whether, when suing a foreign country, you can serve them the suit via mail sent to the ministry of foreign affairs located in the United States. With such instability in the Middle East and on-going tensions in the world, even a seemingly boring case about mail and lawsuits could be a major game-changer. The suit in question came about after a 2000 bombing of the USS Cole while it was in port in Yemen. Sudan is considered responsible.

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Gamble v US

No argument date is set for this case yet. It also deals with criminal justice and whether or not the “separate sovereigns” exception to the double jeopardy rule is legitimate. As you likely know, double jeopardy in the United States means you cannot be tried for the same crime twice. The “separate sovereigns” exception allows for both federal and state prosecution for the same crime. The man in question, Terrance Gamble was arrested in 2015 for unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. He was convicted under Alabama state law and sentenced to a year in prison. Then, he was prosecuted under federal laws for the same crime and ultimately pled guilty. He and his counsel claim this is a violation of the double jeopardy clause of the 5th Amendment.

Timbs v Indiana

Another 8th amendment case! This argument has not been scheduled yet. When it does occur, it will question the 8th Amendment’s prohibition of excessive fines and whether that applies to the states thanks to the 14th amendment. It also ties back to civil-asset forfeiture law. The plaintiff, Tyson Timbs, used a life insurance payout from his father’s death to buy both a nice car and drugs. When he was arrested, his car was seized, they claimed to cover fines associated with the case, but the car was worth far more than the car. The Supreme Court will ultimately rule on this and it may make a huge impact on property rights.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member