On the Docket: U.S. Supreme Court Cases This Fall

Oct 17, 2017

Can a cake baker refuse to make a cake based on a religious objection to the event it is celebrating? A case relating to that concept will be in front of the U.S. Supreme Court this term. 

In this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined for legal analysis by Todd Pettys, H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation and University of Iowa Professor of Law, and also Mark Kende, Professor of Law at Drake University, James Madison Chair in Constitutional Law, and Director of the Drake Constitutional Law Center.

Here are the cases we review:

Gill v. Whitford

This is a case originating in Wisconsin related to the practice of state legislatures drawing congressional district lines to their own political benefit.  One question they may address is whether the court can even be involved in this sort of decision.

"The way lines are drawn is always going to have a political element...they will never entirely eliminate it, and that's why several Justices have said it's a political question that the court cannot get itself into," says Kende.

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

This case is about whether an artist might be forced to express himself in a way that conflicts with his religious beliefs.  The cakeshop owner refused to bake a cake celebrating the wedding of a same-sex couple.

"He can talk about being an artist as a baker, there are of course a lot of people who sell things, either goods or services, that they might argue have some artistic or expressive dimensions," says Pettys.  He also says that he does not think the court would write a broad ruling that could in effect reshape society.

Carpenter v. United States

This case involves use of cell phone service data to track criminals, and whether it violates privacy.

Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31

Should person be compelled to join a union or pay money to a union when that group makes political statements and contributions.

Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association

Whether  a federal law prohibiting certain sports gambling violates the 10th amendment.

Jesner v. Arab Bank

One aspect of this case might be whether it can be heard in the U.S.  It involves two parties outside the U.S.