Supreme Court Update: Bostock v. Clayton County (No. 17-1618), R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC (No. 18-107), Trump v. NAACP (No. 18-588), New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. City of New York (No. 18-280), Espinoza v. Montana Dep’t of Revenue (No. 18-1195), June Medical Services v. Gee (No. 18-1323)

October 7, 2019 Supreme Court Update

Greetings, Court Fans!

It’s the first Monday of October, so we’re back with our first installment for OT19. While OT18 ended on something of a bang (census, partisan-gerrymandering . . . you remember), OT19 looks to be a blockbuster term right out of the gate, with arguments tomorrow on two of the most anticipated cases of the term, Bostock v. Clayton County (No. 17-1618), on whether discrimination against an employee on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited discrimination “because of . . . sex” within the meaning of Title VII, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC (No. 18-107), asking the same question with respect to discrimination against transgendered people.

Bostock and Harris Funeral Homes are just two of several potential blockbusters already on the docket for OT19. In addition, the Court has already agreed to take up the hot-button issues of immigration (in Trump v. NAACP (No. 18-588), addressing the Trump Administration’s decision to wind down the DACA and DAPA programs); Second Amendment rights (in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. City of New York (No. 18-280), addressing a since amended New York City ban on transporting handguns outside city limits); the religion clauses (in Espinoza v. Montana Dep’t of Revenue (No. 18-1195), addressing the constitutionality of state laws prohibiting generally available and religiously neutral student aid programs from being made available to students attending parochial schools); and—the hottest button of them all—abortion (in June Medical Services v. Gee (No. 18-1323), addressing whether a Louisiana law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital violates the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016)). Given the fact that this will be the first time the Court has taken up abortion since Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were appointed, June Medical was certainly the most high-profile grant coming out of last week’s “long conference” (at which The Nine consider all the cert petitions that have piled up over the summer). The other cases to emerge from the pile are: United States v. Sineneng-Smith (No. 19-67), asking whether the federal criminal prohibition against encouraging or inducing illegal immigration for commercial advantage or private financial gain is facially unconstitutional; and United States Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Ass’n (No. 18-1584) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC v. Cowpasture River Preservation Ass’n (No. 18-1587), consolidated cases asking whether the Forestry Service has authority under the Mineral Leasing Act and National Trails System Act to grant rights-of-way through national-forest lands that the Appalachian Trail traverses.

Meanwhile, in today’s Orders list, along with about 1,000 cert denials, the Court denied a motion to dismiss the New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n case as moot. As noted, the ordinance at issue in that case was amended in July and the City argued that the Court should now dismiss the case because it presents no live case or controversy. The petitioners who’ve challenged the ordinance argued vehemently that the Court should retain jurisdiction because the City could reinstate the previous ordinance at any moment and, even as modified, the law still impact their Second Amendment rights. The Court in its order today denied the motion to dismiss, but instructed the parties to be prepared to address the question of mootness at oral argument in December.

In short: it looks to be an exciting term (even if the Chief doesn’t have to preside over an impeachment trial). We look forward to sharing it with you.

Tadhg and Dave