Cases include critical health care, voting rights, LGBTQ equality issues as Barrett confirmation fight looms
Washington, D.C.— The Supreme Court docket for the term opening Monday includes high-profile cases on health care and preexisting conditions coverage, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, Donald Trump’s abuses of power, and more – cases whose outcomes could be dramatically affected by the presence of Amy Coney Barrett on the high court, if she were to be confirmed. The term is opening as Trump and Republicans are attempting to force the confirmation of a lifetime appointment for Barrett before the election. Trump has explicitly said he is motivated to have Barrett on the Court in time for his campaign to contest the election results.
People For the American Way addresses key SCOTUS cases on the docket this term in its newly released annual SCOTUS preview report, “The Supreme Court’s 2020-21 Term: A Changed Court Threatens Our Health and Our Rights.”
“The list of cases the Supreme Court will hear this term makes it absolutely clear that there should be no last-minute Supreme Court confirmation process happening right now,” said People For the American Way President Ben Jealous. “In just weeks, the Court will decide if we get to keep insurance coverage for preexisting conditions. The American people don’t want the Court to take away health care. We should have a say in deciding whether to keep the current president, who wants to destroy health care, or elect one who will protect and expand it and won’t nominate an anti-health care justice. That’s especially true now that voting has already started.”
“The cases on the Court’s docket would be significant and historic enough without the looming confirmation fight, but that fight just supercharges the atmosphere,” said Paul Gordon, People For the American Way senior legislative counsel and the author of the report. “Rights and freedoms we depend on are on the line, and there is very real concern that a 6-3 ultra-conservative Court will be established just in time to undermine all of them. And that doesn’t even take into account the possibility that the Court could decide the outcome of the presidential election.”
PFAW’s nonpartisan affiliate, PFAW Foundation, has joined friend of the court briefs in two of these cases, as noted.
The PFAW report summarizes the following cases:
California v. Texas (oral arguments Nov. 10): Republicans at various levels of government across the country have worked to advance this meritless lawsuit to end guaranteed health insurance regardless of preexisting conditions, as well as eliminate every other health benefit provided by the Affordable Care Act. The anti-ACA litmus test President Trump has for his Supreme Court nominees, and the previous records of his far right justices as well as nominee Amy Coney Barrett, caused two analysts to state recently that a case “that once looked like a Hail Mary would stand a real chance of success.”
Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee (oral arguments not yet scheduled): This case and its companion case (Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee) challenge two barriers to voting set up by Arizona Republicans. Both laws disproportionately make it harder for Black, Latino, and Native American Arizonans to vote. The Ninth Circuit has concluded that they both violate the Voting Rights Act due to their racial impact.
Department of Justice v. House Committee on the Judiciary (oral arguments Dec. 2): This case comes from Trump’s efforts to hide information about the Mueller investigation. With Justice Ginsburg gone, Trump may be more confident of preventing the people’s representatives in the House from learning about his campaign’s connections with Russian intelligence.
Collins v. Mnuchin (oral arguments Dec. 9): The plaintiffs in the case are three large investor shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are federally chartered entities heavily involved in the market for secondary home mortgages. If its conservative wing prevails, the Court could issue an expansive ruling that undermines the independence and even the existence of multi-member independent agencies and the public interest protections they have enacted.
AMG Capital v. Federal Trade Commission (oral arguments not yet scheduled): In this case and its companion—FTC v. Credit Bureau Center—corporations found to have engaged in fraud argue that the FTC cannot make them pay restitution to their victims. Amy Coney Barrett was involved in one of the cases. Initially, a three-judge Seventh Circuit panel (that she had not been on) reversed a circuit precedent and held for the first time that the FTC is limited to getting court injunctions, not restitution. Then a majority of judges on this extremely conservative circuit, including Barrett, voted not to have the entire circuit review the panel’s decision.
CIC Services v. IRS (oral arguments Dec. 1): At issue is a law called the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA). This case about federal tax enforcement sparked a jeremiad by Trump judges at the circuit level against the federal government and the authority of Congress to effectively address national problems.
Fulton v. Philadelphia (oral arguments Nov. 4): This case is another step in the far right’s effort to transform religious liberty provisions from a shield protecting the free exercise of religion into a sword to deprive other people of their legal rights. A religiously affiliated foster adoption agency claims a First Amendment right to be exempt from anti-discrimination laws that require such agencies, at least when funded partly by the government, to include same-sex couples as possible foster parents. People For the American Way’s affiliated Foundation joined an amicus brief authored by the Anti-Defamation League in support of the city.
Tanzin v. Tanvir (oral arguments Oct. 6): This case addresses the remedies available when the federal government violates someone’s religious liberty. Specifically, the issue is whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) permits lawsuits seeking money damages against individual federal employees. People For the American Way’s affiliated Foundation joined an amicus brief authored by Americans United For Separation of Church and State in support of the victims.
Torres v. Madrid (oral arguments Oct. 14): With chilling frequency, Trump judges have distorted the law to prevent victims of police violence from holding wrongdoers accountable in court. This term, the Supreme Court is considering a case that may open a new avenue for law enforcement to escape liability.
Carney v. Adams (oral arguments Oct. 5): While many Americans know about the far right’s long-term and highly successful effort to capture and politicize our federal courts, the danger to our state judicial systems often gets less attention. In this case, the Supreme Court is considering a challenge to one way of addressing the problem.
About People For the American Way
People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity. Learn more: http://www.pfaw.org.