Eight-Member US Supreme Court Begins New Term
The U.S. Supreme Court returned to the bench this week. Following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away on September 18, 2020, the Court will begin the term with just eight members.
The Court heard oral arguments in six cases. Several of the cases were originally scheduled to be heard last term, but Court’s closure due to COVID-19 pandemic required them to be postponed. Below is a brief summary of the issues before the Court:
Carney v. Adams: The Supreme Court will determine whether a Delaware law that limits the number of judges affiliated with a particular political party to a “bare majority” violates the U.S. Constitution. The justices have agreed to consider the following questions: (1) Whether the First Amendment invalidates a longstanding state constitutional provision that limits judges affiliated with any one political party to no more than a “bare majority” on the state’s three highest courts, with the other seats reserved for judges affiliated with the “other major political party”; (2) whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit erred in holding that a provision of the Delaware Constitution requiring that no more than a “bare majority” of three of the state courts may be made up of judges affiliated with any one political party is not severable from a provision that judges who are not members of the majority party on those courts must be members of the other “major political party,” when the former requirement existed for more than 50 years without the latter, and the former requirement, without the latter, continues to govern appointments to two other courts; and (3) whether the respondent, James Adams, has demonstrated Article III standing.
Texas v. New Mexico: The case involves a long-running water dispute over the Pecos River, which runs between the two Southern states. The question this time around whether the River Master correctly allocated evaporation losses under the Pecos River Compact.
Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association: The ERISA case before the Court this week involves claims-processing middlemen-known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs)-who make money on the spread between the rates at which they reimburse pharmacies and the drug prices they charge health plans. The specific question before the Court is whether the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals erred in holding that Arkansas’s statute regulating PBMs’ drug-reimbursement rates, which is similar to laws enacted by a substantial majority of States, is preempted by ERISA, in contravention of this Court’s precedent that ERISA does not preempt rate regulation.
Tanzin v. Tanvir: The issue before the Court iswhether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993,42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, permits suits seeking money damages against individual federal employees. The respondents in the case are Muslim men who lawfully immigrated to the United States. They sued several Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents alleging that after they refused to serve as informants for the government in terrorism-related investigations, at least in part based on their religious beliefs, the agents retaliated against them by improperly using the No Fly List.
Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc.: In one of the highest-profile intellectual property cases of the term, the justices will consider how software is protected under U.S. copyright law. The specific questions the justices must answer are (1) Whether copyright protection extends to a software interface; and (2) whether, as the jury found, the petitioner’s use of a software interface in the context of creating a new computer program constitutes fair use.
Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court: The Constitution’s due process clause provides that a state court has personal jurisdiction over a defendant only when the plaintiff’s claims “arise out of or relate to” the defendant’s activities in the state. The question before the Court is whether the “arise out of or relate to” requirement for a state court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant underBurger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462 (1985), is met when none of the defendant’s forum contacts caused the plaintiff’s claims, such that the plaintiff’s claims would be the same even if the defendant had no forum contacts.
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- Establishment ClauseFree Exercise Clause
- Freedom of Speech
- Freedoms of Press
- Freedom of Assembly, and Petitition
- The Right to Bear Arms
- Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
- Due Process
- Eminent Domain
- Rights of Criminal Defendants
Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.