May 26, 2024
Pending Supreme Court Cases That Could Impact Every American

Pending Supreme Court Cases That Could Impact Every American

While there is always scrutiny and public attention on a handful of major Supreme Court decisions, many other cases that directly impact Americans’ lives go comparatively unnoticed when they’re decided.

Let’s take a look at a few cases currently before the Supreme Court that could have a real-world impact on people’s lives.

Regulating Social Media: Whose Right to Free Speech Wins? 

What’s at issue: Through Moody v. NetChoice and NetChoice v. Paxton, two trade associations representing social media companies (e.g., Facebook and Google) are challenging the constitutionality of Florida and Texas laws that prohibit the tech firms’ self-regulation of social media content.

Why it’s important: While both sides are arguing that this is a First Amendment case, the litigants are framing it in very different ways, says Amy Howe, a reporter for SCOTUSblog who, when she was a practicing attorney, served as counsel for more than two dozen merit cases at the Supreme Court.

According to Howe, the states are arguing that social media is akin to a public square. Therefore, when tech companies exercise control over their content, they impermissibly limit citizens’ speech, while the state laws are constitutionally protecting free speech.

Meanwhile, the social media companies are describing themselves as akin to newspapers, with the right to pick and choose what content they include on their websites, just as U.S. News or the New York Times decide which articles to publish. Therefore, the social media companies argue that it is the states who are violating the First Amendment since the state laws would force the companies to publish speech they don’t want to include.

If the court rules for the social media companies, the status quo continues. But if the court rules for the states, the impact is unclear, Howe says.

It could transform the internet for users. The companies have warned that there is so much content that they must use editorial discretion to make the sites useable. And if the companies cannot exercise any control to take down problematic posts, everyone will be forced to see content they don’t want to see.

The First Major Abortion Case Since Roe v. Wade Was Overturned

What’s at issue: In Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the Supreme Court will determine whether it should rule for plaintiffs challenging FDA approval of the distribution of mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortions.

The FDA first approved the drug in 2000 with limited distribution by hospitals and certain medical facilities. However, the FDA subsequently broadened the distribution, so it is now available through medical practitioners and pharmacies and can be sent through the mail. This expanded distribution is the basis of the plaintiffs’ lawsuit.

Why it’s important: Medication abortions constitute more than half of all U.S. abortions. Although the Supreme Court is not currently considering the use of blocking mifepristone altogether, its ruling will apply nationally. Depending on the specifics of the decision, the ruling could impact access to medication abortions even in states where abortion remains legal, Howe says.

Even if the court just puts limits on its distribution and use, that could have ripple effects, according to Howe. For example, if women could no longer obtain mifepristone, they might choose surgical abortions in states where it is still legal – potentially straining services in those states.

This case is also significant because it’s the first time a court overruled an FDA determination about a drug’s safety. If the plaintiffs win, the case may lead to more challenges of FDA-approved drugs.

While this case could be the first abortion-related decision on the merits since the court overturned Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court could dismiss this case on grounds that the plaintiffs did not have standing to file the lawsuit. If that happens, though, the same issue could be litigated in the future by different parties, Howe says.

City of Grants Pass v. Johnson: Reasonable Ban on Public Camping or Punishment for Homeless?

What’s at issue: Grants Pass v. Johnson is a challenge to an Oregon city’s ordinances that prohibit sleeping or camping on public property, with the result being that the city’s homeless people may receive civil fines for sleeping outdoors, and these fines can become criminal penalties. The plaintiffs have argued that the city’s ordinances are cruel and unusual punishment to the unhoused living in encampments in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

Why it’s important: Since homelessness is a nationwide concern, this case will impact every American, particularly those who live in urban areas, says James Azadian, an appellate attorney who is co-leader of Dykema’s nationwide Appellate and Critical Motions Practice.

Azadian expects that the court will uphold the ordinances to give cities discretion and autonomy they need to operate effectively.

But there is a twist worth considering, according to Azadian.

After the case was briefed and argued, encampments relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict have sprung up on college campuses and elsewhere throughout the country. While the justices are supposed to only analyze the arguments before them, they are not impervious to what is going on in the larger society. They will be thinking of the protest camps, the arrests and how future encampment cases may shift from Eighth to First Amendment claims as they decide this case, Azadian predicts.

The Sleeper Cases Everyone Should Be Losing Sleep Over

What’s at issue: In two cases, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce, plaintiffs in the commercial fishing industry are fighting the U.S. Department of Commerce’s creation of an industry-funded monitoring program. Both plaintiffs are asking the court to overturn the “Chevron deference.”

The Chevron deference essentially means that if a federal agency acted in the absence of express statutory authority but had a reasonable interpretation of the relevant statute, a court must defer to the agency’s interpretation. It can’t replace the agency’s view with its own analysis.

Why it’s important: Overturning Chevron would mean that the courts no longer have to defer to agencies and could dismantle regulations affecting American daily life, from Social Security’s ability to run its programs to banking regulations to the FDA’s ability to inspect food processing plants and the Environmental Protection Agency’s limits on water and air pollution.

Regulations won’t disappear overnight but through legal challenges.

Azadian expects that leaders in heavily regulated industries are already preparing a “naughty list” of regulations they will fight in court if Chevron is overturned.

If it is, “people will feel the changes, but they aren’t going to be as tangible,” Howe says. Instead, the changes in regulations would take time and probably lead to trickle-down effects – attenuated enough that people would be unlikely to connect the dots between the changing circumstances and the Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce decision.

“If there ever was a slumber case that the average American should know about and doesn’t know about, those are the two,” Azadian says.

Source link