Oral argument date: April 25, 2022
Decided on: June 27, 2022
Facts: A high school football coach was asked by his employer to end his custom of engaging in prayer with students before and after games. The coach sued the school district for violating the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because the school district acted to avoid a constitutional suit, the district court found that its actions were justified. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling.
- Whether a public-school employee who says a brief, quiet prayer by himself while at school and visible to students is engaged in government speech that lacks any First Amendment protection.
- Whether, assuming that such religious expression is private and protected by the free speech and free exercise clauses, the establishment clause nevertheless compels public schools to prohibit it.
Holding: The free exercise and free speech clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal; the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.
Significance: This holding effectively overrules years of precedents regarding religion in schools, decreasing the separation between church and state.
Oral argument date: December 1, 2021
Decided on: June 24, 2022
Facts: One of the doctors at Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the sole licensed abortion facility in Mississippi, filed a lawsuit in federal district court challenging the law and requesting an emergency temporary restraining order after the state legislature passed the Gestational Age Act in 2018. This Act prohibits abortion after 15 weeks, with very few exceptions. The district court enjoined Mississippi from enforcing the law because Supreme Court precedent prohibited restrictions on abortion prior to viability and the state had failed to provide evidence that a fetus is viable at 15 weeks. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s holding.
Issue: Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.
Holding: The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey are overruled; the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.
Significance: The Court’s decision to overrule Roe and Casey has revoked the constitutional right to abortion in all instances; this will lead to a decrease in the already shrinking accessibility of abortions across the country.
ABA Involvement and Responses: The ABA filed an amicus brief asserting the importance of stare decisis and why there were particularly compelling reasons to apply stare decisis in this case. After the opinion was released in Dobbs, ABA President Reginal Turner released a statement affirming the Association’s commitment to do all it can to support reproductive choice.
Oral argument date: November 3, 2021
Decided on: June 23, 2022
Facts: New York’s discretionary gun permit law requires an applicant to show a special need for self-protection in order to receive a concealed-carry permit. Two men sued the state for violating their Second Amendment rights after their applications were denied because they failed to show “proper cause.” The district court dismissed their claims and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed their dismissal.
Issue: Whether the state of New York's denial of petitioners' applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violated the Second Amendment.
Holding: New York’s proper-cause requirement for obtaining an unrestricted license to carry a concealed firearm violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Significance: This holding invalidated a provision present in multiple state gun control laws across the nation.
ABA Involvement and Response: The ABA filed an amicus brief arguing that the right of state and local governments to tailor firearms regulations should be based on local considerations and is a critical component of a state’s police powers, in accordance with ABA policy. This brief was cited multiple times in Justice Breyer’s dissent. After the opinion was released, ABA President Reginald Turner released a statement considering the case and gun violence in America.
Oral argument date: April 20, 2022
Decided on: June 23, 2022
Facts: After a patient transporter was accused of sexual assault, the hospital reported this allegation to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The Department sent a deputy to take the accused’s statement. The deputy failed to advise the accused of his right against self-incrimination before questioning him. The accused was arrested and charged in state court, but the jury acquitted him. After his acquittal, the accused sued the deputy for violating the Fifth Amendment by not advising him of his Miranda rights. A district court jury found in favor of the deputy. The U.S. Court for the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment.
Issue: Whether a plaintiff may state a claim for relief against a law enforcement officer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based simply on an officer’s failure to provide the warnings prescribed in Miranda v. Arizona.
Holding: A violation of the prophylactic rules described in Miranda v. Arizona does not provide a basis for a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Significance: Miranda rights have been a cornerstone of the rights of criminal defendants since 1966. The Court’s refusal to allow a defendant to seek damages after not being warned of their rights symbolically decreases the importance of these rights.
Oral argument date: April 25, 2022
Decided on: June 23, 2022
Facts: In 1997, a jury convicted a man of murder and sentenced him to death. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed this sentence and rejected his petition for collateral relief. Nance then filed a federal habeas petition which was denied by the district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In 2020 the man filed a claim that his execution method was unconstitutional because of two of his medical conditions. The district court dismissed this claim. The U.S. Court of Appeals found that the relief the man sought implied that his death sentence was invalid, making his claim a habeas petition. Because the man had already filed a habeas petition, it was considered a “successive petition,” which district courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over.
Whether an inmate’s as-applied method-of-execution challenge must be raised in a habeas petition instead of through a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action if the inmate pleads an alternative method of execution not currently authorized by state law.
Whether, if such a challenge must be raised in habeas, it constitutes a successive petition when the challenge would not have been ripe at the time of the inmate’s first habeas petition.
Holding: Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is the procedural vehicle appropriate for a prisoner’s method-of-execution claim even if an order granting the relief requested would necessitate a change in state law.
Significance: The Court’s holding gives death row prisoners the potential to choose a method of execution that is more humane via §1983 proceedings, which they would be more likely to win than if they used a habeas petition.
Oral argument date: March 21, 2022
Decided on: June 23, 2022
Facts: The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP challenged a 2017 North Carolina voter-ID law in district court for violating the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Democratic state attorney general represents the state’s interests in the case. The Republican president pro tempore of the state senate and the speaker of the state house of representatives filed petitions to allow them to intervene to represent the state’s interests. The district court and the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rejected their requests.
Whether a state agent authorized by state law to defend the state’s interest in litigation must overcome a presumption of adequate representation to intervene as of right in a case in which a state official is a defendant.
Whether a district court’s determination of adequate representation in ruling on a motion to intervene as of right is reviewed de novo or for abuse of discretion
Whether petitioners Philip Berger, the president pro tempore of the state senate, and Timothy Moore, the speaker of the state house of representatives, are entitled to intervene as of right in this litigation.
Holding: The speaker of the North Carolina State House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the North Carolina State Senate are entitled to intervene in this litigation challenging North Carolina’s voter-ID law.
Significance: This holding makes partisan assaults on the 1965 Voting Rights Act easier.
Oral argument date: December 8, 2021
Decided on: June 21, 2022
Facts: The state of Maine requires that all school-age children have access to a free education. When a student does not have access to a public school, the state will pay for a child to attend an approved nonsectarian private school. Parents of some school-age children in this predicament filed suit to be allowed to use this tuition money to pay for a religiously-affiliated school. The district court denied judgment to the plaintiffs and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed.
Issue: Whether a state violates the religion clauses or equal protection clause of the United States Constitution by prohibiting students participating in an otherwise generally available student-aid program from choosing to use their aid to attend schools that provide religious, or “sectarian,” instruction.
Holding: Maine’s “nonsectarian” requirement for otherwise generally available tuition assistance payments to parents who live in school districts that do not operate a secondary school of their own violates the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.
Significance: This case has continued the ongoing efforts to break down the separation between church and state.
Oral argument date: February 22, 2022
Decided on: June 13, 2022
Facts: A member of the Navajo tribe pleaded guilty to an assault charge in the Court of Indian Offenses. A federal grand jury later convicted the man of aggravated sexual assault based on the same underlying events. He was then found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The man argued that his prosecution in federal court violated the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause. The district court ruled against the man. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s holding.
Issue: Whether a prosecution in the Court of Indian Offenses triggers the Constitution’s Double Jeopardy Clause.
Holding: The double jeopardy clause does not bar successive prosecutions of distinct offenses arising from a single act, even if a single sovereign prosecutes them.
Significance: Native Americans can be subjected to serving two separate sentences for the same crime if they are tried under both federal and tribal laws.
Oral argument date: March 2, 2022
Decided on: June 8, 2022
Facts: A Customs and Border Patrol agent went to an inn on the U.S. Canadian border and was asked to leave by the inn’s owner, Robert Boule. The agent refused and pushed the owner to the ground. The owner filed a suit under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the first case to recognize a plaintiff’s right to sue federal officials for damages arising from violations of their constitutional rights. The owner’s suit alleged that the agent violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The district court found that the owner’s claims went beyond the scope of those permitted by Bivens. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, but the full Ninth Circuit denied Egbert’s petition for rehearing.
Whether the authority of a court to imply a cause of action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics extends to Robert Boule’s Fourth Amendment excessive-force claim.
Whether the authority of a court to imply a cause of action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics extends to Robert Boule’s First Amendment retaliation claim.
Holding: The authority of a court to imply a cause of action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics does not extend to either Robert Boule’s Fourth Amendment excessive-force claim or his First Amendment retaliation claim.
Significance: The right of an individual to sue for damages when their constitutional rights are violated by a federal agent is limited.