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A Look Ahead at the Eight-Member Court’s Fall Oral Argument Schedule

US Supreme Court Building under dark, gloomy skies in Washington D.C.
By Joseph Fawbush, Esq. | Last updated on

While the Supreme Court may be in a bit of upheaval with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Justices have already scheduled oral arguments for several notable cases this Fall. In October, they will take up the 10 cases they pushed back to this term using the same format as the end of last term. Namely, that oral arguments will be done remotely and a live stream of the arguments will be broadcast live.

As the Justices mourn the death of a respected and beloved colleague, the Supreme Court will continue with its work. Here are some notable cases scheduled. 

October Cases of Note

The term starts off with an important case, when the justices will hear arguments over whether a Delaware law limiting judges with one political affiliation to a “bare majority" is constitutional. The court will also hear the long-running battle between Google and Oracle over copyright infringement, a case potentially worth billions. There's also an important excessive force case over whether an attempt to put a suspect into physical custody can constitute an unreasonable seizure.

November Cases of Note

In November, the Supreme Court continues with the much-anticipated case of California v. Texas, which involves the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act. While the Roberts Court has already upheld the ACA's individual mandate, it did so in a way that allowed a Texas district court judge to later hold it to be unconstitutional. The court will also continue its focus on religious liberty cases, determining whether a religious organization must agree to conditions set by a city to participate in that city's foster care system despite religious objections.

December Cases of Note

Another highly tracked December case is the Department of Justice v. House Judiciary Committee, which involves undisclosed grand jury materials in the Robert Mueller Russia investigation. The issue is whether impeachment is a judicial proceeding, and therefore the materials must be disclosed to the Committee.

A less political, but important consumer rights case will be heard on December 8, when the Justices will ask questions about whether the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 prohibits calls from devices that can store and automatically dial telephone numbers.

Will the Eight-Member Court Delay Any Cases?

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he plans to move forward as quickly as possible to get in a nomination before the election, a new Justice will not be confirmed prior to these cases being heard.

The Supreme Court may choose to delay or re-hear certain cases if there is a 4-4 split. However, the conservative faction of the Supreme Court has already expanded its majority, with the court split 5-3 along ideological lines. It is quite possible the Supreme Court will decide all of the cases this term with an eight-member court.

As the Supreme Court becomes yet another point of contention in this election, the Justices will continue on with their work after their short break from last term's momentous cases.

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