Supreme Court to tackle immigration, voting rights, unions: A look at major cases on justices’ agenda

It’s nearly decision time for the U.S. Supreme Court, which has a full plate of issues before it: immigration, religious freedom and voter rights.

The justices already issued a ruling striking down a statute that barred sports gambling in most nations, a defeat for the federal government and professional and collegiate sports leagues.

Read on for a look at some of “the worlds biggest” cases justices are expected to decide or have already ruled on.

Free speech

Jack Phillips, a Christian baker, was sued after he declined to create a cake for a same-sex wedding. ( Reuters/ Rick Wilking)

In a test of free speech and religious freedom, the Supreme court is taking up a suit focused on whether a business owner has to create a product that is against his or her deeply-held religious beliefs considering marriage.

The case Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd ., v. Colorado Civil Right Commission centres around Jack Phillips, who declined to create a cake for the bridal celebration of two gays men in 2012. Phillips has maintained that he would sell anything in his store to the couple, but could not create a new cake to celebrate same-sex wedding due to his religious beliefs and convictions about male-female matrimony.

“This has always been about more than a cake, ” David Mullins, one of the men who tried to purchase the marriage cake, has said. “Businesses should not be allowed to violate the law and discriminate against us because of who we are and who we love.”

Religious freedom

Another test of religion liberty before the Supreme Court comes with National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra . In that case, NIFLA, a nonprofit representing pro-life and religious pregnancy centers, is suing California over a law that requires pregnancy centers to inform patients about family planning options available in the country, including abortion.

NIFLA President Thomas Glessner has argued that the law requires anti-abortion centers to be “advertising for abortion.”

“Can the government impose and compel a faith-based ministry to proclaim a message that they are fundamentally opposed to with the risk of being penalty or shut down? “

– NIFLA President Thomas Glessner

“Can the government impose and obligate a faith-based ministry to proclaim a message that they are fundamentally opposed to with the risk of being penalty or shut down? That’s the issue here, ” Glessner previously told Fox News.


However, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra defended the law as a way for patients to get “accurate information” about healthcare options.

“Information is power, and all women should have access to the information they need when inducing personal health care decisions, ” he said.


Protesters rally outside the U.S. Supreme court, while the court justices consider example considering presidential powers as it weighs the legality of President Trump’s latest traveling prohibit. ( Reuters/ Yuri Gripas)

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments pertaining to the Trump administration’s controversial outlaw on travel by residents of a handful of Muslim-majority countries. The tribunal is set to determine if the ban — which affects people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — discriminates on the basis of nationality and religion in the issuing of immigrant visas.

A decision in Trump v. Hawaii is expected in June and could become a precedent-setting ruling on the limits of executive power, especially in the context of immigration.

Union dues

Mark Janus sued because he didn’t want a certain fee deducted from his paycheck to go toward a union just because he worked for the nation. ( Reuters/ Leah Millis)

The Supreme Court could upend a decades-old precedent that allowed unions to collect fees from public employees, including ones who were not part of the union. The case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees( AFSCME ), Council 31 forces the justices is to determine whether so-called “agency-shop” arrangements are allowed.

Mark Janus, employed at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, set the ball in motion when he sued because he didn’t want a certain fee subtracted from his paycheck to go toward trade union organizations just because he worked for the country. His lawyers argued that the pay could contravene First Amendment rights if someone is forced to pay a fee to an organization with different views than he or she holds.

The court has to decide if it will overrule its 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education . In that case, it held that schoolteachers should pay unions as long as the money goes toward collective bargaining and other such issues — not ideological causes.


Lee Saunders, chairperson of AFSCME, has argued that strong labor unions are required since they are give “the strength in numbers[ workers] need to fight for the freedoms they deserve, ” including retirement plan and health care.

The high court heard a similar occurrence in 2016, but the death of Justice Antonin Scalia meant the occurrence ended in a 4-4 decision, Reuters reported.

Voter eligibility

Activists rally outside the U.S. Supreme court ahead of arguments in a key voting rights instance involving a challenge to the Ohio’s policy of purging infrequent voters from voter enrollment rolls. ( Reuters/ Lawrence Hurley)

In what’s considered a pivotal case considering voting rights, the Supreme court has heard debates as to whether nations, especially Ohio, can purge voters who haven’t recently voted.

In Ohio, voters who haven’t cast a vote in a two-year period could be removed — regardless if they are still technically eligible to election, according to The Associated Press. Ohio will eventually remove these voters from enrollment rolls after a notice is sent and the person continues not to vote for the next four years, the nation said.

Civil rights groups argue this process will make it more difficult for some people to be able to workout their right to vote.

The case is titled Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute .

Voter rights

The Supreme Court is deciding what not to wear when voters head to the polls. In the occurrence, Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky , the justices will determine if voters can wear certain apparel deemed political, such as a Tea Party-linked shirt or a “Please I.D. Me” button, to the polls.

This case began in 2010, when Minnesotan Andrew Cilek wore such apparel when he went to vote. One of the items voters were to decide on then, the Star Tribune reported, was whether Minnesota voters should have to show photo identification when voting. At first, Cilek was prevented from voting after he refused to cover up his shirt. He was later able to vote, but had to leave his information with poll workers.

“Polling places are not pristine retreats from the real world, ” Minnesota Voters Alliance attorney David Breemer has argued before the tribunal. “I don’t believe the government can sacrifice the First Amendment to construct them that way.”

On the other side, those in favor of garb restrictions argue it avoids people from being intimidated while voting. A lawyer for the country said these restrictions “protect the fundamental right to vote.”


Should tribunals step in when lawmakers draw up new district maps that favor their party? With Gill v. Whitford , the Supreme Court is facing merely such a pivotal decision.

The court is ascertaining whether Republican legislators in Wisconsin, who depicted a new election map that skewed in favor of their party when they are took control in 2010, went too far with gerrymandering. The court is also being asked to endorse a standard for redistricting that would then apply nationwide.

Redistricting is a major issue in many nations, and this case isn’t the only one the nation’s highest court has heard. Justices are also considering a situation in Texas, regarding a lower court ruling that told a redistricting map was intentionally discriminatory.

Sales tax

In South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc ., the Supreme Court is tasked with deciding whether online shoppers should be charged a sales tax. ( Reuters/ Carlos Jasso)

In South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc ., the Supreme Court is tasked with deciding whether online shoppers should consistently be charged a sales tax.

The justices have heard debates in a case that deals with how industries collect sales tax for online buys at sites from Amazon to Zappos. Currently, thanks to a decades-old Supreme Court rule, if a business is shipping a product to a state where it doesn’t have an office, warehouse or other physical presence, it doesn’t have to collect the state’s sales tax.


Customers are generally required to pay the tax to the state themselves if they don’t get charged, but the great majority do not do so.

Businesses who defend the present rule tell collecting sales tax nationwide is a complex and costly process, especially for the smaller sellers.

President Donald Trump has urged the Supreme Court to side with South Dakota, saying in a tweet: “States and Cities throughout our Country are being cheated and treated so badly by online retailers. Very unjust to traditional taxation paying stores! ”


All gambles are off after the Supreme Court struck down a federal statute that barred athletics gambling in most nations. The decision was a clear defeat for the federal government and major professional and college sports leagues that fought to uphold the ban.

Such betting is already legal in Nevada, and New Jersey voters and lawmakers passed a law to legalize sports wagering several years ago. But that nation law was opposed by the NCAA, the NFL, MLB, the NBA and the NHL.

“Congress can regulate athletics gambling immediately, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.”

– Supreme Court ruling

Those on the leagues’ side pointed to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, a federal law that proscribed athletics betting in all states except the four grandfathered in: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. Nevada is the only country out of the four that has full-scale sports wagering, according to The Associated Press.

“Congress can regulate athletics gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our task is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not, ” the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling said.

More than a dozen nations supported New Jersey in the case.

New Jersey could see an uptick in annual revenue to the tune of about$ 9 billion with athletics gambling legalized, the New York Post reported.


In Carpenter v. United States , the Supreme Court has to decide whether the Fourth Amendment lets police to be able to use cell phone records that show the location and movements of the user without a search warrant.

The case involves Timothy Carpenter, who was arrested for being part of a stinging of Radio Shack robberies in Michigan and Ohio. He was convicted, in part, after police procured archived cellphone records proving him near the scene of the crimes.

“Because cellphone location records can reveal countless private details of our lives, police should only be able to access them by getting a warrant based on probable cause, ” Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Carpenter, said in a statement last year. “The time has come for the Supreme court to make clear that the longstanding protections of the Fourth Amendment apply with undiminished force-out to these kinds of sensitive digital records.”

The government said it does not need “probable cause” to obtain these records, kept by phone companies, because of a 1986 congressional statute known as the Stored Communications Act.

Fox News’ Madeline Farber, Steve Kurtz, Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

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