Cases Not Yet Set for Argument
Facts: In January 2024, the Supreme Court granted a request from Idaho and the state’s Republican-controlled legislature to temporarily put on hold a ruling by a federal district court that would require emergency rooms in the state to provide abortions to pregnant women in an emergency.
The federal law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, requires hospitals receiving Medicare funding to offer “necessary stabilizing treatment” to pregnant women in emergencies. In Aug. 2022, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning the constitutional right to an abortion, the Biden administration went to federal court in Idaho, where it argued that EMTALA trumps an Idaho law that makes it a crime to provide an abortion except in a handful of narrow circumstances, including to save the life of the mother.
- Whether the federal law on which the lower court relied trumps an Idaho law that criminalizes most abortions in the state.
Significance: With the ‘abortion topic’ already sparking heavy debate and polarization, this particular case continues to raise crucial questions about the precedence of federal law over state legislation in matters of reproductive health and the constitutional rights of pregnant individuals, significantly impacting access to essential healthcare services and the balance of power between federal and state jurisdictions.
Facts: In 2011, Areli Escobar was convicted of the rape and murder of 17-year-old Bianca Maldonado. In 2020, a district court judge ruled that Escobar deserved a new trial because his conviction relied heavily on “scientifically unreliable” DNA evidence analyzed by a Travis County lab that was later closed down due to untrained staff and improper testing procedures. In 2016, the Austin Police Department was forced to shut down its crime lab after the Texas Forensic Science Commission found widespread issues with its DNA testing. The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reconsider its decision to let a death row inmate be executed even though prosecutors now agree his conviction should be thrown out because it relied on potentially faulty DNA evidence.
- Whether the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals erred in holding that the prosecution’s reliance on admittedly false DNA evidence to secure the petitioner’s conviction and death sentence is consistent with the due process clause of the 5th Amendment because there is no reasonable likelihood that the false DNA evidence could have affected the judgment of the jury.
Significance: Escobar reveals many systematic flaws in forensic practices in the justice system. This case raises notable questions regarding the validity, ethicality, and admissibility of forensic evidence, emphasizing the balance between rigorous stands and oversight in forensic analysis and legal prosecution for crimes. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court's intervention underscores the critical constitutional question of whether the use of erroneous DNA evidence, even if prosecutors now acknowledge its fallibility, aligns with the principles of due process enshrined in the Fifth Amendment.
Facts: Mifepristone—first approved by the FDA in 2000—is the first medicine in a two-step regimen used to end a pregnancy. Medication abortion accounts for more than half of all abortion care in the United States, and the frequency of medication abortion via telehealth has increased in the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade.
In the more than two decades since the FDA first approved mifepristone, the agency has evaluated the safety of mifepristone at least four times, and the results are conclusive: Mifepristone has proved safe and effective and has been used by approximately 5.6 million women in the United States.
- Whether the Supreme Court should stay the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas's order blocking the Food and Drug Administration's approval of mifepristone.
Significance: This case is highly significant in shaping the legal and reproductive landscape. Given the increased reliance on telehealth for medication abortion, the Court's decision regarding the stay on this order will directly impact the accessibility and availability of this method of abortion care, significantly influencing reproductive rights and healthcare access in the country. This case intersects with the larger debate surrounding abortion rights, particularly after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, amplifying its significance in shaping the landscape of reproductive health rights and access. The ruling will establish access to certain reproductive healthcare services and touch upon the realms of individual autonomy and privacy.
Facts: Multiple plaintiffs, including epidemiologists, consumer and human rights advocates, academics, and media operators, claimed that various defendants, including numerous federal agencies and officials, have engaged in censorship, targeting conservative-leaning speech on topics such as the 2020 presidential election, COVID-19 origins, mask and vaccine efficacy, and election integrity. The plaintiffs argue that the defendants used public statements and threats of regulatory action, such as reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, to induce social media platforms to suppress content, thereby violating the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights. The States of Missouri and Louisiana also alleged harm due to the infringement of the free speech rights of their citizens.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a nationwide preliminary injunction prohibiting the federal government from meeting with social media companies or otherwise seeking to influence their content-moderation policies. The U.S. Supreme Court granted the government’s motion for an emergency stay and granted certiorari to review the case on the merits.
- Did the federal government’s request that private social media companies take steps to prevent the dissemination of purported misinformation transform those companies’ content-moderation decisions into state action and thus violate users’ First Amendment rights?
Significance: This case holds significance in delineating the extent of government influence over digital speech regulation and its potential impact on citizens' rights to free expression. It echoes broader concerns by addressing combating misinformation and safeguarding free speech, highlighting the complexities of private platforms' content control in the context of governmental pressure and its implications for digital liberties and public discourse.