Supreme Court Midterm for the States

Perhaps the Supreme Court’s midterm has come and gone. The Court will only hear argument in 10 more cases and the term will end June 30. But the Court has issued decisions in less than half of the cases of the term so far. So now might be just the time to take stock of the Supreme Court’s term as it relates to the states.

The Court has already decided two big cases and has four more left to go. Only one of the six big cases (involving the Affordable Care Act birth control mandate) will have no direct impact on the states.

In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association the Court issued a 4-4 opinion which affirmed the lower court’s decision to not overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), holding that public sector “fair share” arrangements where non-union members must pay union dues are constitutional.

In Evenwel v. Abbott the Court held 8-0 that to meet the requirements of “one-person, one-vote” states may apportion state legislative districts using total population.   

Justice Scalia’s vote would have been decisive in Freidrichs and would have made no difference in Evenwel. Only time will tell how his absence will affect the rest of the cases to be decided this term.

In United States v. Texas the Court will decide whether the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program violates federal law or is unconstitutional.

The issue in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt is whether Texas’s admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center requirements create an undue burden on women seeking abortions and are reasonably related to advancing women’s health.

For the second time the Court has agreed to decide whether the University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admissions policy is unconstitutional in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.

Beyond the “big” cases, the Court has accepted five preemption cases (two undecided); four redistricting case (two undecided); and four death penalty cases; (two undecided).

Read about all these cases and more in the State and Local Legal Center Midterm for the States 2016 article.