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Supreme Court Sets Up Big Battles -- for Next Term

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. | Last updated on

The Supreme Court released its final batch of decisions for the term on Monday, major opinions in abortion rights, political corruption, and firearm ownership. But the justices didn't take off for summer vacation straight away. On Tuesday, the Court granted cert to eight new cases, to be scheduled for the October 2016 terms.

That brings the Court's cases for the upcoming term to 32. Many of them promise to be important and potentially controversial decisions, touching on everything from racial bias in criminal proceedings, to the death penalty, to the role of church and state, and even ATM fees. Here's a quick preview of what's to come.

1. ATM Fees as Antitrust Violation?

On Tuesday, the Court granted cert two to cases, Visa v. Osborn and Visa v. Stoumbos, that challenge ATM fees. Consumer advocates argue that major credit card companies violated antitrust laws when they agreed, along with banks, on standard ATM fees. The Supreme Court will decide whether allegations of such an agreement alone are enough to sustain an antitrust suit.

2. Race and Disability and the Death Penalty

The Court will also hear two major death penalty cases next term. In Buck v. Stephens, the Supreme Court will decide whether a man condemned to death has the right to appeal his conviction on the basis that his defense expert offered testimony that he was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black.

The second case, Moore v. Texas, involves whether courts can apply modern medical standards of intellectual disability when determining if someone is eligible for capital punishment, or if they are bound, as a Texas court ruled, by a 23-year old standard.

3. Unfair Lending and Discrimination

Also on Tuesday, the Court agreed to hear a challenge involving who can sue over unfair and discriminatory lending under the Fair Housing Act. The City of Miami has sought to enforce the FHA against allegedly discriminatory lenders, on the basis that their bad loans led to increased defaults, followed by foreclosures, neighborhood blight, and subsequent damage to the city.

4. Church and State and ... Recycled Tires?

Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley is, perhaps, one of the more peculiar and interesting cases to go before the Court next term. Trinity Lutheran had sought to pick up scrap tire rubber for its playground through a state program, but was denied, solely because it is a church. Can the government's desire to maintain the wall between church and state extend to playground floors?

5. Angry Gamers and Class Action Lawsuits

Unhappy Xbox users sued Microsoft in 2007, alleging that the game platform's disc drive, well, sucked. Their suits were consolidated into a putative class action, but the court refused to certify the class. In order to obtain a final judgment and appellate review, the gamers voluntarily dismissed their claims with prejudice; Microsoft now argues that prevents the appellate court from reviewing the order denying class certification.

Excited about any other cases scheduled for next term? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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