BLOG3 Big Cases in the Supreme Court’s Upcoming Term

By Jordan Lorence Posted on: | September 25, 2017

The Supreme Court will reconvene on the first Monday in October for its new term. This will be the first term that the high court has begun with a full complement of justices since Neil Gorsuch joined the Court last April to replace the late Antonin Scalia.

Already, the Supreme Court has major cases set for review, and others waiting for consideration by the justices. Here are some of the important cases the justices have already accepted for review:


Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has been defending cake artist Jack Phillips since 2012. Even though Jack gladly serves everyone, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission punished Jack, saying he had discriminated by declining to create a custom wedding cake in celebration of same-sex marriage, which conflicts with his Christian religious beliefs on the definition of marriage. The Court has not yet set a date for the oral arguments, but they are likely to occur before the end of the year, with a decision before the end of the Court’s term in late June. 

Also, ADF has appealed another right of conscience case to the Supreme Court. In Arlene’s Flowers, the Washington Supreme Court upheld a ruling against florist Barronelle Stutzman, who declined to create custom flowers for a longtime customer’s same-sex wedding. The Supreme Court could consider this case with Masterpiece Cakeshop, or hold it for the Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece, and then send the case back to the lower court for reconsideration in light of the new opinion.


Trump travel ban cases

The justices will hear oral arguments October 10 on two cases challenging the Trump Administration’s executive order temporarily suspending the entrance of nationals from six predominantly Muslim nations pending establishment of “adequate standards … to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists.” These cases have a cluster of complex legal issues, including the First Amendment. The justices will decide whether the executive order targets Muslims in a manner that violates the Establishment Clause.  


Wisconsin redistricting case

The justices will hear Gill v. Whitford on October 3, which involves a challenge to the boundaries of the districts for electing Wisconsin state legislators. The claim is that Republican lawmakers unconstitutionally gerrymandered the boundaries to increase the number of Republican legislators elected to the Wisconsin Legislature. A decision in this case could possibly force states to redraw the lines for their legislative districts. The justices will wrestle with whether the courts should address complaints about political gerrymandering of district lines like this, or just leave them to the political branches of the government to sort out.


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Jordan Lorence

Senior Counsel

Jordan Lorence serves as senior counsel and director of strategic engagement with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he plays a key role with the Alliance Advancement Team.

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