6 Reasons for Democrats to Worry: SCOTUS Rulings Still Pending

Orhan Cam / shutterstock.com
Orhan Cam / shutterstock.com

Well, folks, here we are, waiting for the Supreme Court to drop the rest of their decisions for the term. They’ve got until the end of June, so time’s running out. We’ve got some vast rulings coming our way, and it’s time we get some answers. Let’s dive into what’s on the docket.

First up, we’ve got a showdown over the 40-year-old Chevron doctrine. If you have yet to hear of it, this precedent says that courts should defer to executive branch agencies when interpreting laws. It sounds like a blank check for agencies like the EPA and SEC to do whatever they want, right? Well, two small fishing companies are fed up with this. They’re saying it’s downright oppressive to make them pay for a monitor on their herring boats, a National Marine Fisheries Service regulation.

The Supreme Court heard arguments earlier this year, and it was clear the justices were split. This case could end up clipping the wings of the Fisheries Service and a whole host of federal agencies. It’s time someone questioned whether these agencies should have such free rein.

Next, we’ve got former President Trump back in the spotlight. He’s arguing that he should have immunity for his actions following the 2020 election. Special counsel Jack Smith charged him with conspiracy to overturn the election results, and now Trump’s appealing to the high court.

During the arguments, the justices didn’t seem entirely convinced by Trump’s plea for complete immunity, but some appeared open to the idea of limited immunity for presidents. The fear is that without some form of immunity, every former president could be at the mercy of their successor’s whims. This case is holding up the criminal proceedings related to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, where Trump has pleaded not guilty. It’s a mess, folks, but hopefully, the Supreme Court can clarify.

Another significant case involves whether federal officials can communicate with social media companies. This stems from lawsuits by two state attorneys who say the feds violated First Amendment rights by pressuring social media to take down certain content.

The lower courts sided with the attorneys general, blocking officials from the FBI, CDC, Surgeon General’s office, White House, and other agencies from contacting these companies. The Biden administration, of course, appealed this decision. The Supreme Court’s decision could have enormous implications for free speech and government overreach.

The Supreme Court is also set to rule on whether emergency rooms in Idaho can perform abortions in emergencies under the Idaho Defense of Life Act. This law bans abortions unless it’s to save the life of the pregnant woman. The Biden administration says this conflicts with federal law requiring ER doctors to stabilize patients.

It’s another classic standoff between state and federal authorities, and the high court’s ruling will have significant consequences for abortion laws nationwide.

We’ve also got the court looking at laws from Texas and Florida to prevent social media companies from censoring or de-platforming users based on their views. These laws are a response to allegations that social media giants have been targeting conservative voices.

The justices were cautious about these Republican-backed laws, worrying they might infringe on the platforms’ editorial rights. However, they might allow some regulations to ensure fair use of nonexpressive services like email and messaging. It’s a fine line between free speech and platform control.

Lastly, the Supreme Court will rule on the obstruction statute used in prosecuting many Jan. 6 defendants. Joseph Fischer, one of those charged, is challenging this statute, arguing it’s too broadly applied. The justices seemed skeptical of the current application, and Attorney General Merrick Garland has hinted he might drop charges if the court rules against the statute.

So, there you have it. The Supreme Court is about to deliver some big decisions, and it’s anyone’s guess how they’ll turn out.