Topics in this term's major cases include technological privacy, religious freedom, anti-discrimination laws, immigration and the President, sports gambling and political gerrymandering, among many others. The Court's deliberation on these cases will begin in the coming months but the discussions surrounding them have been going on for years, and will continue long after the decisions are made. Before the end of this term, the Court will have heard something close to 70 cases, chosen from an average of 7,000 petitions. Here are five of the most important cases to follow.
Carpenter v. United States
Based on these decisions, it follows that Carpenter's case will also fall under the Fourth Amendment. It is an important decision to watch, nonetheless. Though it specifically concerns the 127 days of location data used in the case, it has implications for the future of data privacy and government surveillance.
Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
Already one of the most-covered upcoming cases, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission pits religious freedom laws against anti-discrimination laws. Colorado's civil rights law protects citizens from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The baker at Masterpiece Cakeshop argues that the Colorado government cannot force him to say something on his cakes that disagrees with his personal beliefs. He calls his cakes forms of artistic expression and, therefore, extensions of the free speech protected by that always-tricky First Amendment. The opposing lawyers think the anti-discrimination laws outweigh the First Amendment in this case and prohibit the business from refusing its customers based on their sexual orientation. Duke University law professor Walter Dellinger writes, "Petitioners have a First Amendment right to pick their message but not to choose their customers based on sexual orientation." The Court faces a difficult task in merging the jurisdictions of separate laws.
Gill v. Whitford
The Court looks to answer several questions in this case about the possibility and legality of political gerrymandering in Wisconsin following a redistricting plan introduced in 2011. A federal court rejected the plan on the grounds that it allows Republicans to unfairly benefit their party in future elections. Often, federal courts had to draw the state's maps after the legislature could not agree on one. The challengers to the plan, led by Whitford, argue that, when Republicans won control of the state under a Republican governor in 2010, they deliberately boosted their own party's chances in future elections by hampering Democratic voter districts. Lower courts admitted that politics inevitably play into the redistricting process but that, in this case, the plan was unquestionably and intentionally biased. The Supreme Court must decide whether to allow political gerrymandering as a precedent for other states or to side with the challengers in opposing a state legislature.