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Supreme Court October Term 2017: A Review of Selected Major Rulings Supreme Court October Term 2017: A Review of Selected Major Rulings, September 19, 2018.

“On October 2, 2017, the Supreme Court began one of the most notable terms in recent memory. The latest term of the Court was the first full term for Justice Neil Gorsuch, who succeeded Justice Antonin Scalia following his death in February 2016. The October Term 2017 was also the last term for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in July 2018. With nine Justices on the Court for the first time at the beginning of a term since October 2015, this past term witnessed the High Court issuing fewer unanimous opinions and more rulings that were closely divided relative to previous terms. The increased divisions on the High Court during the October Term 2017 may have been a product of the nature of the cases on the Court’s docket, with the Supreme Court hearing a number of high-profile matters implicating issues of considerable interest for Congress and the public at large. For instance, during its last term, the Court considered a challenge to President Trump’s so-called travel ban, several redistricting disputes concerning partisan gerrymandering, and a dispute that pitted a state government’s interests in enforcing certain civil rights laws against the interests of those who object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds. Some of the Court’s most highly anticipated rulings resulted in opinions where the Justices avoided resolving core issues of dispute, such as the Court’s rulings on partisan gerrymandering, in which the legal challenges were largely dismissed on procedural grounds, or the Court’s opinion in the case of a baker’s refusal to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, which was decided on narrow grounds peculiar to the case before the Court. Nonetheless, the October Term 2017 resulted in several far-reaching opinions. Perhaps most notably, the last term for the Court saw the overturning of several long-standing precedents, including (1) two 20th Century cases interpreting Congress’s Commerce Clause power to limit the states’ ability to require certain out-of-state retailers to collect and remit sales taxes; (2) a 1977 ruling requiring nonconsenting members of public employee unions to pay certain fees as a condition of employment; and (3) a long-criticized 1944 case that sanctioned the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Of particular note are seven cases from the October Term 2017 that could impact the work of Congress: (1) Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, which upheld the enforceability of certain agreements between employers and employees to arbitrate labor disputes in lieu of class and other collective actions; (2) Carpenter v. United States, which interpreted the Fourth Amendment to impose certain limits on the warrantless collection of the historical cell phone location records of a criminal suspect; (3) Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, a case that held that Congress, by prohibiting a state from partially repealing a state law, impermissibly commandeered the powers of the state; (4) Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, which held that agency fee arrangements that require nonconsenting public employees to contribute a fee to a public employee union violate the First Amendment; (5) National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, a case that concluded that a California law imposing various notice requirements for certain facilities providing pregnancy-related services likely violated the First Amendment; (6) Trump v. Hawaii, which rejected a challenge to the lawfulness of President Trump’s so-called travel ban; and (7) Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission, which concluded that the appointment of administrative law judges within the Securities and Exchange Commission did not comply with Article II of the Constitution.”

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