As this year’s set of columns ends, then, we wanted to leave you with a brief rundown of the cases to keep watching: those that are still outstanding, and might be interesting pieces of reading come June.
With the Court asking for an opinion, the government will be forced to pick a side, which could have a broader policy impact for federal drug enforcement across the nation.
It is remarkable how simple language can quickly become ambiguous, and it highlights the vital importance of well-reasoned court decisions interpreting statutes.
GVRs are increasingly being issued in cases in which there is no intervening Supreme Court opinion that would affect the lower court’s decision, which has occasioned Justice Scalia’s and Justice Thomas’s criticism of the Court’s use of GVRs.
In many ways, the ability to confess error is the highest level of prosecutorial discretion, and a concrete example of the SG’s mandate to ensure that justice is done. It is a rare enough thing to admit fault, either in the real-life Washington, D.C., or the fictionalized version in House of Cards.
Like many legal debates, this one reflects changing social ideas about what race, structural inequality, and discrimination mean, and how they are best addressed. Answers to those questions won’t come from a judicial opinion. But the Court’s decision here might demystify how states and citizens can talk about race and voting in a legal context.
There aren’t easy answers in this arena. But a good start might be to separate the publishing decision from those who actually write the opinion. Doing so could remove the (real or perceived) incentive to insulate the decision from review.
This case requires that they balance their own notions of judicial integrity and impartiality against the on-the-ground reality of the judicial elections, which they have never experienced. How they evaluate the compelling interest at stake in Florida’s law may do more than tell us about the Court’s vision of the First Amendment; the opinion might also reveal something about the Court’s vision of itself, and about the judicial role in an increasingly political world.
Whatever the Justices are thinking, the fate of Obama’s signature achievement again rests in their hands (though probably not for the last time). Oral argument will likely be heard sometime in March, with a decision expected by late June. In the meantime, Americans that depend on the subsidies for life-saving healthcare will be waiting with bated breath.
The case may also be another opportunity for debate about the appropriateness of the sentencing practices broadly to come to the forefront. While courts have long limited or avoided the question of constitutional rights at most sentencing, this most recent wave of cases, led by Jones, might just usher in a new era of sentencing scrutiny. Or at least that’s what it seems the three dissenters might have in mind. But for now, it appears they will have to wait for another day.