Big Cases to Watch in 2014 at the Supreme Court

Updating our earlier story on 2013 highlights from the Supreme Court of the United States, we predict that Americans should expect 2014 to be a big year at the Court.

The Supreme Court began its annual Term on Oct. 7, 2013, so we’re about halfway through. The Court has already heard arguments in several important cases and has several more scheduled for the next couple months. In two weeks the Court will finish scheduling cases for this Term, then start booking cases for October Term 2014.

The Court has not yet handed down decisions in any of the major cases heard this Term, so 2014 will contain all of those judgments. So far the big cases the Supreme Court has heard are:

  • On Oct. 8 the Court heard McCutcheon v. FEC, a follow-up to the 2010 Citizens United case. Federal law limits the amount of money that a person can give to candidates and political action committees. In McCutcheon, the Supreme Court will decide whether aggregate limits—limiting the total contribution a citizen can give over two years to everyone combined—violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.

  • On Oct. 15, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, asking whether Michigan violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by amending the Michigan Constitution to prohibit racial preferences in programs such as college admissions.

  • Also on Oct. 15, in DaimlerChrysler AG v. Bauman, the Court will decide if it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause for American state courts to claim jurisdiction over a foreign corporation when the company’s only connection with the U.S. is that a subsidiary of that corporation provides services in the American state where the court is located.

  • On Nov. 5, in Bond v. U.S., the justices heard arguments on whether Congress can pass federal laws to fulfill a treaty when those laws would normally be unconstitutional if Congress attempted to do the same thing through ordinary laws. While this case involved a woman's poisoning her husband’s mistress, it has implications for many issues, including gun rights and parental rights.

  • On Nov. 6, the Supreme Court will consider in Town of Greece v. Galloway whether invocations at sessions of policymaking bodies—called “legislative prayer”—are unconstitutional if the court should decide those prayers endorse religion (such as the prayer givers mentioning Jesus Christ, or if a majority of the volunteer prayer givers are Christian). This case also asks the Court to consider whether its overall test on finding Establishment Clause violations for the past forty years needs to change. If the Court takes the extra step, this could become one of the most important religious liberty Supreme Court cases in American history. (Disclosure: I represent Members of Congress in this litigation supporting the prayer givers.)

The Court is also scheduled to hear arguments in a number of important cases in the first few months of 2014:

  • On Jan. 13, 2014, in NLRB v. Noel Canning, the Supreme Court will decide whether President Barack Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board without Senate approval, during days when a single senator was holding a nominal session of the Senate to prevent those appointments, are unconstitutional, and therefore that all NLRB actions over the past two years are illegal and carry no force of law.

  • On Jan. 15 in McCullen v. Coakley, the justices will decide whether a Massachusetts law creating a buffer zone around abortion clinics, in which no one can approach a pregnant woman to offer her information or encouragement not to proceed with an abortion, violates the First Amendment.

  • On Jan. 22 in Abramski v. U.S., the Court will consider whether a police officer can be convicted of a federal felony due to how he filled out a form issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to purchase a firearm for his uncle, when the form is broadly and poorly written, and the policeman was advised to fill out the form in that manner.

  • On Feb. 24 in Chamber of Commerce v. EPA, the Supreme Court will consider whether the EPA has gone too far in claiming authority to issue regulations on so-called greenhouse gases from nonmoving sources in an unprecedented assertion of federal power.

There are also several cases for which the Court has agreed to hear the case, but has not yet set a date. Of those, one is sure to garner national headlines:

  • Obamacare will also be back at the Supreme Court this year. In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, the Court will examine the HHS Mandate issued by Kathleen Sebelius requiring employers to provide abortion-related products and services. The Court will consider whether this regulation violates either the First Amendment of the Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when applied to Christian-run businesses who morally object to abortion.

The Court hears about 80 cases each year, so this list focuses on the newsworthy cases that have caught the public’s attention. In coming weeks the Court will consider whether to take a religious liberty case on a Christian photographer who was penalized with a fine for declining to photograph a homosexual commitment ceremony, two major Second Amendment cases brought by the National Rifle Association, and cases on several other issues.

So 2014 is shaping up as an important year at the Court. Follow Breitbart News as we bring you developments in 2014 on what transpires before the nine justices of the third branch in our federal government, the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.


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