The four undecided Supreme Court rulings that could come tomorrow

Supreme Court
New poll finds overturning Roe won’t have significant impact on midterms. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The four undecided Supreme Court rulings that could come tomorrow

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As the Supreme Court nears its annual summer recess, justices still have more than 20 cases to decide that could have a significant impact on the country.

The court typically saves its most profound cases for the end of its term, with each year usually defined by one or two cases that dramatically shift the political landscape. This year, however, justices have yet to decide on four major cases that could upend the country’s political trajectory and have a major influence over the 2024 elections.

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The court has more than a dozen cases it still needs to decide before it leaves for its summer recess. Justices released three decisions on Thursday, rejecting challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act as well as a ruling on a criminal law case. While the court declined to issue rulings on four of its biggest cases, it could still release rulings on the cases as soon as Friday. The high court’s session is expected to wrap up by the end of June.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the biggest cases still awaiting a decision:

Affirmative action at U.S. colleges

Among the decisions in front of the Supreme Court is the question of affirmative action, which describes the practice of colleges using race-based admissions policies to increase diversity on their campuses. However, that practice has been brought under scrutiny by conservatives who argue such policies violate the Constitution.

Conservatives on the Supreme Court are likely to vote against the practice, expressing criticism that race should not be considered in college admissions because it would disadvantage qualified students. Such a decision would reverse the court’s 1978 ruling that first allowed universities to consider race as one of its application factors.

Colleges across the country have experimented with different ways to achieve diversity goals outside of affirmative action, arguing that a variety of student backgrounds is crucial to their communities. But several say that without the practice, it’s difficult to maintain high enrollment rates of minority groups.

A decision in the case is expected by the end of the month and could change how colleges operate nationwide.

Student loan cancellation

Also under consideration is President Joe Biden’s plan to provide up to $20,000 in student loan relief under his debt forgiveness program introduced last year.

Several conservative groups sued over the decision, arguing Biden does not have the authority to cancel student loan debt unilaterally. Congress later passed a bill seeking to block the program, arguing such a move would do little to relieve student debt and would only increase the cost of tuition. Biden vetoed that bill earlier this month.

Biden announced his plan in August, but the program has since been stalled due to legal challenges. A decision in the case is expected in either late June or early July.

Freedom of speech versus LGBT rights

Also on the table is the matter of freedom of speech when it comes to LGBT subjects, positioning two rights against each other in a crucial Supreme Court case.

The case deals with a challenge to a public accommodations law in Colorado, which website designer Lorie Smith says violates her constitutional rights of free speech by requiring her to build wedding websites for same-sex couples despite her personal objections. However, a ruling in her favor has raised concerns it would undermine previous decisions prohibiting discrimination against LGBT customers.

The justices seem likely to side with Smith, but it remains unclear how the court will restrain its ruling to avoid broader discriminating effects.

Independent state legislatures and the issue of gerrymandering

The Supreme Court is also tasked with deciding a case out of North Carolina stemming from the state’s most recent redistricting efforts.

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At issue is the question of whether state legislatures should have sole authority over administering federal elections, particularly when it comes to congressional maps. The challenge comes after state courts ruled the redrawn maps adopted after the 2020 census amounted to an extreme case of gerrymandering in favor of Republicans.

However, that case was renewed after Republicans won control of the state Supreme Court in 2022, reversing that decision altogether.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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