The Supreme Court declined to hear two gun rights cases on Monday that dealt with whether those age 18-20 can buy and then carry handguns in public for self-defense. Learn about the biggest cases the justices will hear this session.
The court is already scheduled to hear dozens of cases so far this term, and more are likely to be added in the coming months. Here are some of the biggest cases the court will be hearing, according to CNN:
The case: NLRB v. Noel Canning The issue: Executive power The main question: The validity of President Barack Obama's recess appointments to a federal agency.
The backstory: A U.S. appeals panel concluded three people named to the National Labor Relations Board lacked authority, because the presidential appointments were made while the Senate was technically in a "pro forma" session during the winter holiday break. That Board had ruled on a Washington state labor dispute, but the canning company filing suit claims the panel's members did not have a proper quorum.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the past have used the "virtual Congress" tactic to block unilateral appointments by the president when the Senate is away. But GOP leaders here claimed the Obama appointments to the board created a panel that was overly pro-union, and an eventual high court ruling could invalidate hundreds of findings issued over the past two years. What the justices decide could also put in jeopardy the recess appointment of Richard Cordray, who heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a move also being challenged in a separate lawsuit.
The case: American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, Inc. The issue: Television retransmission fees The main question: Whether a company that allows paying customers to stream broadcast television can do so without paying the broadcasters retransmission fees and without their permission.
The backstory: Aereo has warehouses full of antennas, one for each customer, that pick up over-the-air TV stations. The company then streams those stations, allowing customers to watch TV online or digitally record programs. The company argues this is legal because they’re using equipment available to any customers. Broadcasters, though, argue the company needs their permission to operate and should be paying retransmission fees to retransmit their original content, like satellite and cable companies do.
The cases: Liberty University v. Lew; Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.; Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius; Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius The issue: Health care reform
The main question: A provision in the new health care reform law requiring companies and institutions of a certain size to provide insurance coverage for birth control and other reproductive health services without a co-pay. Can private employers refuse on the claim it violates their religious freedoms?
The backstory: These appeals mainly cover reproductive services and have been brought by a Christian university and two companies. The petitions also make larger arguments in opposing other provisions of the Affordable Care Act. These are among more than six dozen separate legal challenges to nearly every aspect of the healthcare law, including the "employer mandate" to provide a minimum level of health insurance for their workers, or pay a federal penalty. In 2012, the court upheld the individual mandate provision of the law, but still allowed other challenges to proceed as the law goes into effect.
The case: Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action The issue: Affirmative action. The main question: Whether a state violates the Equal Protection Clause by amending its constitution to prohibit race- and sex-based discrimination or preferential treatment in public-university admission decisions.
The backstory: Michigan's Proposition 2 was approved by voters seven years ago with 58 percent support. A federal appeals court later tossed the initiative, concluding it "distorts the political process and imposes a burden based on race that violates" the federal Constitution.
The high court this past term considered a similar case from the University of Texas, which in some ways present mirror issues. A white student said a college's existing affirmative action policy violated her "equal protection" rights, while civil rights supporters of such programs claim Michigan's ban also has the same effect. The high court in the Texas petition made it harder to use affirmative action in the future, while not totally eliminating its use. The court's most closely watched current case this term, it raises a new thorny, unresolved questions over race and remedies, and since Justice Elena Kagan isn't hearing this case, there's a possibility for a 4-4 tie.
The case: McCutcheon v. FEC The issue: Campaign donations The main question: Constitutionality of a two-year ceiling on individual campaign donations to federal candidates and political committees.
The backstory: The appeal comes from Alabama businessman and donor Shaun McCutcheon and is supported in court by the Republican National Committee. They object to a 1970s-era law restricting someone from giving no more than $48,600 to federal candidates, and $74,600 to political action committees, during a two-year election cycle. McCutcheon says he should be able to donate to as many candidates as he wants as long as he donates no more than $2,600 to each of them, but opponents worry a single wealthy donor could have too much influence on elections. This decision could have an impact on the 2014 midterm elections.
The case: Town of Greece, New York, v. Galloway The issue: Church and state The main question: Public prayer in town meetings.
The backstory: The town board had a long tradition of opening meetings with an invocation. Since most present were Christian, the vast majority of those offering prayers were Christian. The policy was challenged, and the board started asking people of other faiths to offer prayers, but local citizens Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens ultimately sued. A federal appeals court found the practice an unconstitutional mix of church and state, but local leaders say it's an inclusive practice and argue prayers have long been allowed at public meetings nationwide.
These highly watched cases could still be added to the court's schedule:
The case: U.S. v. Wurie and Riley v. California The issue: Privacy The main question: Whether police must obtain a warrant to search data on the cellphone of a person under arrest.
The backstory: The Supreme Court has issued mixed privacy rulings in the past two years: allowing criminal suspects to be DNA-tested upon arrest yet before conviction, to help solve "cold" cases; but saying in most cases, search warrants are needed before GPS electronic surveillance of vehicles, or blood tests for suspected drunk drivers. Chief Justice John Roberts recently said his court's biggest challenge in coming years will be to articulate what constitutional protections "apply to new issues and new technology."
The case: Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock The issue: Same-sex discrimination The backstory: Whether private businesses can refuse -- on personal religious grounds -- to offer services typically available to the general public.
The backstory: The owners of a small Albuquerque photography studio refused to film a 2006 commitment ceremony involving a lesbian couple, saying it went against their Christian beliefs of "traditional marriage" between one man and one woman. The state supreme court concluded that violated New Mexico's Human Rights Act. This case centers on a debate over religious freedom versus "public accommodation" discrimination of homosexuals. Although some of New Mexico's counties have recently issued marriage licenses for same-sex couples, the state as a whole neither allows nor bans it.
Take a look at some of the major cases that have shaped the U.S. through history.
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