Washington, DC – As the Supreme Court’s far-right majority continues to be mired in scandal, the Court is preparing to open a new term that threatens more of our critical rights and freedoms. That’s according to a new term preview report by People For the American Way, “Another Dangerous Term Begins at the Supreme Court.”
On the docket for the term starting in October are cases that threaten to put guns in the hands of domestic abusers, to uphold laws weakening the voting power of Black Americans, to block health and safety protections, and to make it harder to uncover illegal discrimination. In addition, the Court could decide to hear another case on abortion rights.
“We wish it weren’t this way, but it’s become a rite of autumn to raise the alarm about the new Supreme Court term,” said Paul Gordon, People For the American Way senior legislative counsel and the author of the report. “This Court and its far-right majority have done so much damage to our rights in the last few years that every fall brings fresh concerns about what’s next. Cases we will be watching closely will affect gun safety, voting rights, and illegal discrimination – and possibly not for the better. It’s incumbent on all of us to watch what happens at the Supreme Court, because these rulings will affect everyone as they filter down to lower courts that will apply them to cases where we live and work.”
“The Roberts Court’s reputation is already in tatters because of the rampant corruption among its far-right majority,” ” said Svante Myrick, president of People For the American Way. “There’s been so much focus on the far-right justices and their financial messes that we almost forget that the Court will soon be back to work hearing real cases that affect real people. But they will, and we’re bracing for bad news. It’s another reminder that our votes matter when it comes to who sits on our federal courts, from the Supreme Court on down. We need to keep that in mind with the 2024 elections right around the corner.”
Cases highlighted in this year’s preview report include:
United States v. Rahimi. [Oral arguments November 7.] In this case, Zackey Rahimi was under a restraining order for assaulting and threatening his girlfriend when he was found to possess two guns, after he was involved in five different shootings. He was convicted under the federal Violence Against Women Act, which made it illegal for someone subject to a domestic violence restraining order to possess a firearm or ammunition. Since that time, the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen has severely weakened gun safety measures — and Rahimi was able to have his conviction overturned. The Biden administration is fighting to uphold the prohibition on possession of guns by domestic abusers.
Alexander v. South Carolina Conference of the NAACP. [Oral arguments Oct. 11.] This case is about how South Carolina Republicans drew the boundaries for a congressional district long anchored in Charleston County. They moved more than 30,000 Black voters out of the district, which made it whiter and more likely to elect a Republican. The South Carolina NAACP went to court claiming an illegal racial gerrymander, and won. If the legislature’s appeal to the Supreme Court is successful it will open the door to even more gerrymandering that weakens Black voters. This will affect voters not only in South Carolina but in every state with significant numbers of Black voters.
Acheson Hotels v. Laufer. [Oral arguments Oct. 4.] Deborah Laufer has multiple sclerosis and cannot move freely without a wheelchair. She went to the website of Acheson Hotels to learn about their inn in Maine. The website did not identify accessible rooms, give an option for booking an accessible room, or provide her enough information to tell if the inn’s rooms and features were accessible to her, details it is required to provide under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Laufer filed a federal lawsuit, but the hotel says it should be dismissed since Laufer was a “tester” who never planned to use the hotel. If the Supreme Court rules for the hotel it could endanger the common practice of testing, which has long been an essential method of rooting out discrimination across a wide variety of situations that implicate civil rights laws.
Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo; SEC v. Jarkesy; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association of America. [Oral arguments Oct. 3 in CFPB v. CFSA; oral arguments not scheduled in other cases.] These three cases will have a significant impact on the ability of government agencies to establish and enforce health and safety guidelines and consumer protections. The Far Right is looking to these cases to weaken government regulatory power across the board, in three ways: by challenging the authority of agencies to apply their unique expertise to make critical decisions about how to fulfill their missions; by challenging the right of Congress to create agencies and delegate power to them; and by challenging the funding mechanism for an agency which, if proved unconstitutional, could sweep away more than a decade of consumer protections in the financial services arena.
Moore v. United States. [Oral arguments not scheduled.] This case is based on an obscure tax provision. But it could have an enormous impact on whether and how Congress can effectively address the concentration of wealth among a small portion of the most privileged in our country, which corrodes our society and our democracy. The couple challenging their tax bill in this case urged the Court to take their case to prevent a future progressive Congress from adopting a “wealth tax.”
About People For the American Way
People For the American Way, a national progressive advocacy organization, inspires and mobilizes community and cultural leaders to advance Truth, Justice and the American Way. We convene courageous Americans, produce compelling media and organize campaigns to defend our democracy from authoritarian threats and advance America’s promise that everyone will enjoy freedom, safety and a vote that counts. Learn more: http://www.pfaw.org