Welcome to the Oct. 31 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.
It is the last Monday in October, dear readers, and the veil between worlds is at its thinnest. Let us glimpse into a world mysterious yet uncannily familiar to us—one of gavels, benches, robes, and allegations—that of the federal judiciary and Supreme Court! Let’s gavel in, shall we?
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SCOTUS has not accepted any new cases to its merits docket since our Oct. 11 edition.
To date, the court has agreed to hear 36 cases during its 2022-2023 term. Eighteen cases have been scheduled for argument.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in five cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.
Click the links below to learn more about these cases:
- Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard concern nonprofit organization Students for Fair Admissions, Inc.’s (SFFA) challenges to the University of North Carolina and Harvard University’s admissions programs that the universities’ use of race as a factor in admissions. The group alleges the policies violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. SFFA asked the court to overrule its 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger that upheld the use of race-conscious admissions programs if they were narrowly tailored for a compelling interest.
SCOTUS consolidated these cases when it granted review on Jan. 24, 2022. On July 22, 2022, the cases were vided, or separated, for arguments.
- Jones v. Hendrix originates from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. At issue is how federal inmates may challenge the legality of their convictions. The court is asked to consider how to bring legal challenges under federal custody law 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and under habeas corpus. Writs of habeas corpus protect against illegal imprisonment.
- Cruz v. Arizona originates from the Arizona Supreme Court. John Montenegro Cruz was convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to death in 2005. In Simmons v. South Carolina (1994), SCOTUS held that “in cases where a capital defendant’s future dangerousness is at issue, due process entitles the defendant to inform the jury that he will be ineligible for parole if not sentenced to death.” Cruz alleges that he was not able to inform the trial jury of his future ineligibility and that the state courts’ rejections of his appeals on this matter violated U.S. Supreme Court precedent. SCOTUS’ ruling in Lynch v. Arizona (2016) established that the Simmons rule applies in Arizona.
- Bittner v. United States concerns the circumstances and consequences of violating the Bank Secrecy Act.
During the 2021-2022 term, the court agreed to hear 68 cases. Four cases were dismissed and one case was removed from the argument calendar.
SCOTUS has not issued any opinions since our previous edition.
Between the 2007 and 2021 terms, SCOTUS issued opinions in 1,128 cases, averaging 75 opinions per year. During that period, the court reversed a lower court decision 805 times (71.4 percent) and affirmed a lower court decision 315 times (27.9 percent).
Upcoming SCOTUS dates
Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:
- Oct. 31: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
- Nov. 1: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
- Nov. 2: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
- Nov. 4: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.
Federal court action
On Oct. 14, 2022. President Biden announced his intent to nominate Scott Colom to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi.
The president has announced 142 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has reported no new nominees out of committee since our last edition.
The Senate has confirmed no new nominees since our Oct. 11 issue.
As of this writing, 84 of President Biden’s Article III nominees have been confirmed since he assumed office.
The federal judiciary currently has 88 vacancies, 86 of which are for lifetime Article III judgeships. As of this writing, there are 45 pending nominations.
According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, there are 30 upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary, where judges have announced their intention to leave active status.
For more information on judicial vacancies during the Biden administration, click here.
Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.
Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.
Or, keep an eye on our list for updates on federal judicial nominations.
We’ll be back on Nov. 7 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out!
Kate Carsella compiled and edited this newsletter with contributions from Myj Saintyl, Sam Post, and Caitlin Styrsky.