WASHINGTON, DC – The Supreme Court granted review in no new cases at its first 2018 conference, and denied hundreds of petitions for review in a list stretching more than 20 pages long, including some cases of interest to many Americans.
Perhaps the most noteworthy of these cases is Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant. LGBT activists sued Mississippi over a new state statute that protects rights of conscience for people of faith regarding marriage. Specifically, the law provides that people who religiously believe that marriage is between a man and woman, or that sexual conduct should be reserved to people who are married, or that sexual orientation is something that can change over time, cannot be sued for discrimination for speaking or living consistently with their faith on these issues.
Plaintiffs claimed that providing this religious-liberty protection actually established an official state religion in Mississippi, violating the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit threw out the lawsuit, holding that the plaintiffs had to that point not been personally injured by the statute, and thus did not have standing to challenge its constitutionality. The Supreme Court refused to review that judgment.
But LGBT activists won a different case elsewhere in the country. Judge Ruth Neely is a municipal judge and state magistrate in Wyoming who had expressed her view that she would not be comfortable presiding over a same-sex ceremony, which was a non-issue for her because under the Wyoming legal system neither a municipal judge (i.e., a city judge) nor a magistrate performs marriage ceremonies.
LGBT activists wanted the judge removed from the bench nonetheless. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) came to Neely’s legal defense, but the Wyoming commission that determines judicial fitness recommended she be stripped her of her judgeship. The Wyoming Supreme Court did so by a 3-2 vote. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review that decision in Neely v. Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics.
Other noteworthy denials and the issues they presented are:
- Stagg v. Department of State: Whether the First Amendment forbids restricting dissemination of munitions information
- Ledezma-Cosino v. Sessions: Whether a federal law authorizing deportation of habitual drunkards violates the Fifth Amendment because it is too vague
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Whether a federal regulation protecting a type of prairie dog entirely within one state violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause because it does not involve interstate commerce.
- Shao v. Wang: Whether it violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause when a judge has social relationships with lawyers before him in a case but does not recuse himself. (Eight of the Supreme Court justices were recused from considering this petition.)
- Campeau v.Sandercock: Whether state laws requiring a license for marriage are unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court’s next closed-door conference is Friday, January 12.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.