Supreme Decisions

By: Danielle Apfel

June is proving to be a busy month for the Supreme Court. As the 2015 session comes to a close at the end of June, the public can expect answers to some pretty big questions. Whether or not these answers will be positively received however, remains to be seen.


Supreme Court decisions must be handed down in terms of opinions. Because of the nature of a nine-justice court, there will always be a majority opinion, for the majority of the justices, a dissenting opinion, for the minority of the justices, and in some cases a concurring opinion, for those justices who agree with the decision but for a different reason. So, although some of the justices tend to lean a little liberal or a little conservative, the swing votes are the ones to watch, as they are vital to the decision-making process.


The fast paced momentum of the Court has already allowed for more major decisions to be shared. Although the Court has already decided upon many smaller-scale cases, more widely influential cases have finished as well. The court has already concluded an 8-1 decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., a 7-2 decision in Elonis v. United States, a 6-3 decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, and a 5-4 decision in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. These decisions come with mixed reviews from the general public, but are nowhere near as controversial as what is to come in the remainder of the 2015 session.


Up next for the Court are crucial decisions regarding marriage, capital punishment, and healthcare, amongst a myriad of other cases.


After the Supreme Court overturned DOMA and refused to rule on the Proposition 8 case back in 2013, the decision to permit same-sex marriages was placed under state jurisdiction. Although their decisions two years ago allowed for equality in federal benefits for gay couples, the actual ability to marry was not decided upon. When Alabama’s Supreme Court ordered a halt on issuing same-sex marriage licenses, the issue went straight back up the chain to SCOTUS. Now, the Court will hopefully clear up the confusion and assert a federal stance on the issue.


The controversy over capital punishment still stands. After attempting to distance themselves from the debate, many drug companies refused to sell the drugs necessary for lethal injections. This brought on a wave of new drug concoctions, which are associated with botched executions in Oklahoma and Arizona last year. Whether or not these drugs will be considered “cruel and unusual punishment,” a protected right from the Eighth Amendment, will be made clear by the end of the month.


Years later, and Obamacare is still an issue. A loophole in the Affordable Care Act allows for tax credits, or subsidies, to be allocated to citizens in states that use the federal insurance marketplace. Although the ACA originally allowed states to set up their own marketplaces, it now appears that citizens in those states may not receive the subsidies required to pay for their healthcare. Should the Court find the legality of the loophole, the insurance market may be in trouble.


Supreme Court decisions this month are highly anticipated for what they could mean to the future of the general public. With little time left of this session, the aftermaths of these controversies will soon unfold.