- The Supreme Court will grapple with issues involving former President Donald Trump, the Biden administration’s communication with social media companies to censor speech online and the abortion pill in the lead up to the 2024 election.
- Abortion is back at the Supreme Court just two years after it issued a major ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, with two cases on the issue.
- The justices will hear oral arguments on Trump’s eligibility for office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment in February.
Issues involving the chemical abortion pill, former President Donald Trump and the Biden administration’s encouragement of censorship online top the Supreme Court’s docket in the New Year.
Though only one decision has been released so far this term, the justices have already heard arguments on gun restrictions for subjects of domestic violence restraining orders, government officials blocking constituents on social media and Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy settlement. Other pending cases will require the Supreme Court to grapple with multiple hot-button issues in the lead up to the 2024 election.
Just two years after overturning Roe v. Wade in June 2022, the justices agreed to hear another major abortion case challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the chemical abortion pill mifepristone.
U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled in April that the FDA must reverse its approval of the pill. The Fifth Circuit later declined to fully remove the pill from the market, but upheld the portion of the decision rolling back FDA rules issued in 2016 and 2021 that had expanded access, allowing the pill to be sent via mail and used later in pregnancy.
However, due to an emergency order issued by the Supreme Court in April, both decisions are paused until the Supreme Court rules on the case.
The Supreme Court also agreed Friday to hear a second big case considering whether the federal law requires emergency room doctors to perform abortions in violation of Idaho’s law, which prohibits abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger. The Biden administration argues the that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which instructs doctors not to turn away patients in need of “emergency stabilizing care,” preempt’s Idaho’s ban and requires doctors to perform emergency abortions.
On Friday, the Court agreed to allow Idaho’s ban to remain in effect until it could hear the case in April.
The Supreme Court will weigh in on the Biden administration’s coordination with social media companies to suppress speech online in Murthy v. Missouri. District Court Judge Terry A. Doughty called the government’s censorship efforts “Orwellian” in his July 4 ruling finding the Biden administration likely violated the First Amendment, noting the Republican attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri “produced evidence of a massive effort by Defendants, from the White House to federal agencies, to suppress speech based on its content.”
The Supreme Court paused the ruling in October pending its consideration of the appeal. Justice Samuel Alito dissented, along with Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, writing the decision could be construed in the meantime as “giving the Government a green light to use heavy handed tactics to skew the presentation of views on the medium that increasingly dominates the dissemination of news.”
Election officials in eight states filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to reject the appeals court’s ruling, expressing dismay that communications made with platforms during the 2020 and 2022 election season have “essentially ended” ahead of “a critical and hotly contested 2024 election season.”
The Supreme Court will also hear a case considering former superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services Maria Vullo pressuring banks and insurance companies not to do business with the National Rifle Association. Aaron Terr, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) director of Public Advocacy, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in November there are “clear parallels” between the cases.
“Each case involves government officials exceeding constitutional boundaries by coercing private companies to censor or dissociate from speakers expressing views those officials dislike,” he said.
As the 2024 election draws near, issues surrounding former President Donald Trump are creeping into the court’s docket.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Feb. 8 to consider Trump’s appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision finding him ineligible to appear on the state’s primary ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The justices decision will clarify whether other states can take similar actions to remove Trump from the ballot, as Democratic Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows did in a Dec. 28 ruling finding Trump ineligible to appear.
The justices also agreed to hear a case on the scope of an obstruction statute used to charge hundreds of Jan. 6 defendants, as well as Trump.
The statute, Section 1512(c)(2), threatens fines or up to 20 years in prison for anyone who “obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding.” It is connected to two of the four charges in Jack Smith’s indictment of Trump for alleged election interference.
If the Supreme Court limits the scope, it could shake up Jan. 6 cases along with impacting the former president’s case.
Special counsel Jack Smith already asked the justices in December to consider Trump’s presidential immunity appeal before the lower court had a chance to weigh in, a request they ultimately denied. Still, the issue will likely be back before the justices soon, as the D.C. Circuit is slated to hear oral arguments on the issue Jan. 9 and issue a decision sometime after.
Other coming cases to watch
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Jan. 17 for a pair of cases that challenge “Chevron deference,” a legal doctrine that instructs courts to defer to executive agency interpretations of statutes when the language is ambiguous. Critics argue the doctrine enables federal agencies to adopt expansive interpretations of statutes that broaden their power while evading the checks and balances of the judicial branch.
In February, the Supreme Court will hear a case challenging a Trump-era federal ban on bump stocks, along with a pair of cases considering red state laws aimed at preventing viewpoint censorship on social media.
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