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Upcoming Supreme Court Cases to Watch

This Supreme Court term includes major cases related to gay and transgender rights, immigration, abortion, guns, and religion. Decisions on the cases below will arrive by June.

  • Gay and Transgender rights: Bostock v. Clayton County, No. 17-1618; Altitude Express v. Zarda, No. 17-1623; and R.G. & J.R. Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 18-107

This case involves the question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) covers gay and transgender Americans. Most civil and human rights statutes around the country do not prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender and identity. Title VII applies to employers nationwide, so the justices will be deciding if Title VII will offer nationwide protection from mistreatment on these bases. The cases in question were brought by two gay men and a transgender woman who say they were fired for unlawful reasons. The employers and the Trump administration argue that the lawmakers who voted for the law did not intend such broad coverage. The workers say that it is impossible to discriminate against gay and transgender people without taking into account their sex.

  • Immigration: Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, No. 18-507

In 2012, President Barack Obama created a program to shield 800,000 immigrants known as “dreamers” from deportation and allow them to work. These immigrants were brought to the U.S. as children and the program is called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  Shortly after taking office, President Trump announced he would wind down the program, believing it to be unlawful. So far, lower courts have blocked attempts to rescind DACA, rejecting arguments by the Trump Administration.  The Supreme Court will issue the final decision on this issue.

  • Abortion: Gee v. June Medical Services, No. 18-1460.

A Louisiana law, enacted in 2014, requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The Louisiana statute would effectively leave the state with one doctor in one clinic authorized to perform the procedure. Opponents of the law argue it imposes an undue burden, making access to abortion more difficult without actually protecting women’s health, which is barred by precedent established by the Court in earlier decisions. Supporters say that admitting privileges are an important safety credential. Other abortion cases are likely to follow.

  • 2nd Amendment: New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York, No. 18-280

New York passed a regulation allowing residents with “premises licenses” to take their guns to one of seven shooting ranges in the city, but prohibiting them from taking their guns to second homes and shooting ranges outside the city, even when the guns were unloaded and locked in containers separate from ammunition. Though New York repealed and reissued the regulation, which would seem to make the case moot, challengers have urged the Court to hear it anyway, arguing that the revised law remains problematic.

  • Religion: Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, No. 18-1195

Montana’s constitution, similar to many states, bars the use of government money to aid religious groups. Three mothers who sought scholarships from the state program to send their children to a Christian school sued, saying the state constitution violated provisions of the United States Constitution on religious freedom and equal protection. The Montana Supreme Court disagreed and shut down the entire scholarship program. This case will give the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to explore the limits of its 2017 decision in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, that Missouri may not exclude religious institutions from a state program to make playgrounds safer even though the state’s Constitution called for strict separation of church and state.