Supreme Court Opens Annual Term, Including Second Amendment

The Associated Press

3 Oct 2016Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Monday the Supreme Court began its 2016 October Term, which will involve up to 80 cases and continue through next June. While there are already some important cases scheduled for argument, one case not yet on the calendar—a Second Amendment case—highlights more than any other the decades-long impact that November’s election will have on the Constitution and the nation.

The Supreme Court is currently paralyzed for conservatives, and it’s the cases that are not yet scheduled that involve some of the biggest issues facing the nation right now.

Of those, the biggest by far is Tyler v. Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Department, in which the Court may overrule its historic case District of Columbia v. Heller, which held that the Second Amendment is an individual right.

The Court will decide sometime this winter whether to take Tyler. In the meantime, the Court has filled 29 of its roughly 75 oral argument slots for the annual term.

The justices will consider at least one religious liberty case. Many states in the late 1800s adopted Blaine Amendments, which were originally intended to limit Roman Catholic schooling, but which have grown and morphed in modern secular America to ban all taxpayer funds from supporting faith-based work. In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley, the Court will decide whether Blaine Amendments violate First Amendment religious liberties.

In Lee v. Tam, the Supreme Court will decide whether the federal law authorizing the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to deny trademark (“TM”) protection for content that PTO decides “disparage[s] … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute” violates First Amendment free speech rights. The decision in that case will decide, for example, whether Pamela Geller’s anti-Jihadi ads can receive protection recognized by law.

When a foreign country takes someone’s property in violation of international law, the Court will decide what standard has to be met under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) before a U.S. federal court can rule on the merits of the case.

Regarding the controversial National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the justices will determine in National Labor Relations Board v. SW General when federal law prevents a person who has not been confirmed by the Senate from exercising the powers of that office.

In Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, the Court will tackle controversial issues regarding the role of race when lawmakers draw legislative districting lines.

In Jennings v. Rodriguez, the Court will consider whether aliens seeking admission in the United States who are also criminals—or even terrorists—are nonetheless entitled to bond hearings and the possibility of being set free into the American population.

Many controversial cases on other issues—including family and transgender questions—are expected before the Court this term, though it’s not certain which issues will make it to the High Court this year.

With the current ideological split on the Court, it is a foregone conclusion that whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton wins the White House will determine the outcome of many of these issues, not just for this year at the Supreme Court but for many years to come.