The Week Ahead at SCOTUS: On to December

We’ve come to the end of the Supreme Court’s monthly argument session—a two-week period where the high court hears oral arguments in a handful of cases. The justices will spend the next two weeks writing and circulating drafts of opinions, among other things.

The Week, Week, Week Ahead: The court will kick off its “December” argument session Nov. 27—and it promises to be a doozy.

  • Headlining the December sitting is the highly anticipated clash between First Amendment rights and anti-discrimination laws, Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm’n.
    • Masterpiece involves a “Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding on religious grounds” who is challenging “the state’s anti-discrimination law,” Bloomberg Law’s Patrick Gregory
    • “The outcome could affect a wave of lawsuits involving religious freedom and discrimination issues”—involving photographers, florists, and others—following the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision affirming same-sex marriage.
  • Also on the court’s docket is a “pivotal” criminal issue involving “the balance between surveillance and privacy in the mobile phone era,” Carpenter v. United States, according to Bloomberg Law’s Jordan Rubin.
  • The court will also “consider reinstating a New Jersey law that would legalize sports gambling at casinos and racetracks” in Christie v. NCAA, according to Bloomberg’s Greg Stohr.
    • That case deals with the reach of the federal government and could have implications on legal challenges to the Trump administration’s plans to punish sanctuary cities.

Repeat Litigant: It’s been awhile since we got any new grants from the Supreme Court—not since October 16, in fact. But the court could add some new cases Monday, Nov. 13.

  • In contention for a spot on the Supreme Court’s docket are a trio of cases regarding the validity of a California law requiring “pregnancy crisis centers” to post notices if they don’t actually provide abortion services.
  • The Court will also consider whether to hear a challenge to a law prohibiting political attire at polling places, in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky.
  • Finally, SCOTUS veteran John Elwood tells us that one potential SCOTUS grant involves a repeat litigant.
    • “The Supreme Court not infrequently takes cases from returning litigants,” Elwood tells us. But usually those involve similar claims.
    • Here, however, Fane Lozman’s original SCOTUS case involved the city’s attempt to force Lozman out of his “floating home.” Lozman’s new petition involves a First Amendment claim against the city for unrelated actions.
    • If “this case gets granted, I think Mr. Lozman will be the litigant who has brought the two most dissimilar legal claims to the court,” Elwood notes.

Rapid Ruth: The Supreme Court issued its first opinion in argued cases last Wednesday. And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took an early lead in the ongoing saga of the swiftest dealer of justice.

ICYMI: Bloomberg Law’s Jessie Kokrda Kamens highlighted the court’s “sparse” arguments last week. You can catch up on both arguments—yes, there were only two—below: