The Supreme Court’s Next Blockbuster Term
Todd Gaziano /
Although the Court’s last term was generally regarded as pretty boring, the upcoming term that begins on Oct. 3 has the potential to be the term of the decade, or as some hope, the term of the century. Yet the story of the Court’s 2011 term really began months, or even years, ago. For example, the Obamacare legislation that passed in early 2010 led to a series of cases that have already resulted in one petition for certiorari that is currently pending before the justices, with several more Obamacare petitions expected to follow in the next few months.
The justices are meeting today, one week before the opening of the Court’s term, to pass on hundreds of other petitions requesting review of lower court decisions. The Court is not ready to vote on whether it will take the Obamacare lawsuit (indeed, I bet that decision may be held until December or January), but the cases the Court has already placed on its fall and winter docket—and others that will soon be voted on—promise to place the Court in the center of attention for the next nine months.
When acting in its proper, limited role, the Supreme Court can do much to preserve the Constitution as written. When the justices substitute their own preferences for the original public meaning of the text of the Constitution and laws, the Supreme Court can do much harm. How will the Court behave this year, and what cases will the Court hear?
To help answer these and other questions, The Heritage Foundation will host “Supreme Court Preview: 2011 Term” on September 28, featuring former Solicitor General Paul Clement and former Assistant to the Solicitor Kannon Shanmugam in a preview of the Court’s next term. This event continues our standing-room-only Preserve the Constitution Series, recently aired on C-SPAN, and always webcast by Heritage.
When the Eleventh Circuit Court struck down the individual mandate in Obamacare last month, it was a victory for the NFIB and 26 states—and the man who argued on their behalf, Paul Clement. It also created a split among the federal circuits, making it almost certain the Supreme Court will hear one of the challenges. Yet, the timing of the argument in the High Court, and which case or cases it agrees to hear, is far from clear. Hopefully Paul and Kannon can shed considerable light on the complexities—and predict which way the Court will rule in the end.
Obamacare isn’t the only big case that will affect Americans’ rights and liberties. How will the Justices respond to the latest racial preference rulings, including Fisher v. University of Texas? Will they limit Texas’s greatly expanded use of racial and ethnic preferences in admissions, or kick the can down the road for another 25 years? Will the High Court uphold the Arizona immigration-enforcement law, which the Justice Department argues interferes with its choice not to enforce existing federal immigration laws? Will the California marriage case or the Defense of Marriage Act cases reach the High Court this year?
Aside from speculation about which cases the Court may hear, our panelists will provide their insights on significant cases the Court has already scheduled for this term. Can the police use GPS tracking devices on suspects’ cars without warrants to monitor their every movement? Does the “ministerial exception” from federal employment regulation enjoyed by ordained ministers apply to teachers at religious elementary schools? May local authorities conduct suspicionless strip searches on every person admitted to jail? Will the Court put constitutional limits on the reach of the Endangered Species Act, or will it continue to impose massive costs without discernable benefits to the species it purports to protect?
Learn how the Court will approach these questions and more as we continue our Preserve the Constitution Series.