Robe & Gavel: SCOTUS concludes December sitting

Welcome to the Dec. 5 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 week of our December sitting, dear readers, and we have a lot to cover. Let’s dig in, shall we?

Follow Ballotpedia on Twitter or subscribe to the Daily Brew for the latest news and analysis.

We #SCOTUS and you can, too!


Since our previous issue, SCOTUS has accepted one new case to its merits docket.

Click the links below to learn more about the case:

Biden v. Nebraska concerns the Biden Administration’s student loan debt relief program. The case originated from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 42 cases during its 2022-2023 term. Thirty-four cases have been scheduled for argument.

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.


The court’s December argument sitting continues on Dec. 5. SCOTUS will hear arguments in five cases this week. Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

Dec. 5, 2022

303 Creative LLC v. Elenis concerns First Amendment challenges and anti-discrimination laws related to the LGBTQIA+ community.

  • The question presented: “Whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment.”

MOAC Mall Holdings LLC v. Transform Holdco LLC concerns Section 363(m) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and whether it limits appellate courts’ jurisdiction over certain cases that involve a sale order.

  • The question presented: “Whether Bankruptcy Code Section 363(m) limits the appellate courts’ jurisdiction over any sale order or order deemed ‘integral’ to a sale order, such that it is not subject to waiver, and even when a remedy could be fashioned that does not affect the validity of the sale.”

Dec. 6, 2022

United States, ex rel. Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, Inc. concerns the legal authority and standards required for dismissing claims under the False Claims Act.

  • The question presented: “Whether the government has authority to dismiss an FCA suit after initially declining to proceed with the action, and what standard applies if the government has that authority.”

Bartenwerfer v. Buckley concerns a bankruptcy debtor’s liability for another individual’s fraud, even if the debtor was unaware of the fraud.

Dec. 7, 2022

Moore v. Harper concerns the interpretation of the elections clause in Article I, section 4 of the Constitution, referred to as the independent state legislature doctrine, and whether the Constitution gives state legislatures sole authority to regulate federal elections without oversight from state courts.

  • The question presented: “Whether a State’s judicial branch may nullify the regulations governing the “Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives . . . prescribed . . . by the Legislature thereof,” U.S. CONST. art. I, § 4, cl. 1, and replace them with regulations of the state courts’ own devising, based on vague state constitutional provisions purportedly vesting the state judiciary with power to prescribe whatever rules it deems appropriate to ensure a “fair” or “free” election.”


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%) and affirmed a lower court decision 315 times (27.9%).

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • Dec. 9, 2022: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices to consider cases.
  • Dec. 12, 2022: SCOTUS will issue orders.

Federal court action


There have been no new nominations since our Nov. 28 edition.

The president has announced 141 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

Committee action

The Senate Judiciary Committee has reported 11 new nominees out of committee since our Nov. 28 edition.

The following nominees were reported to the full U.S. Senate for a confirmation vote on Dec. 1, 2022: 


The U.S. Senate has confirmed two new nominees since our previous edition:

As of Nov. 30, the Senate had confirmed 87 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—61 district court judges, 25 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice.


According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, the federal judiciary currently has 88 vacancies, 86 of which are for lifetime Article III judgeships. As of this writing, there are 43 pending nominations.

There are also 29 upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary, where judges have announced their intention to leave active status.

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on Dec. 12 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out! 


Myj Saintyl compiled and edited this newsletter, with contributions from Kate Carsella, and Sam Post.