Robe & Gavel: SCOTUS begins first week of January 2024 sitting

Welcome to the Jan. 8 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

Did you miss us, dear readers? We are so happy to be back for the first installment of Robe & Gavel for 2024. SCOTUS has kicked off its first sitting of the year in high gear, so there is much to cover. Let’s gavel in!

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SCOTUS has accepted ten new cases to its merits docket since Dec. 8. To date, the court has agreed to hear 56 cases for the 2023-2024 term. SCOTUS dismissed one case after it was accepted. Twenty-six cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.

Click the links below to learn more about these cases:


The Supreme Court will hear five arguments this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.

Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

Jan. 8

  • Campos-Chaves v. Garland concerns 8 U.S.C. § 1229(a).
    • The question presented: “If the government serves an initial notice document that does not include the ‘time and place’ of proceedings, followed by an additional document containing that information, has the government provided notice ‘required under’ and ‘in accordance with paragraph (1) or (2) of section 1229(a)’ such that an immigration court must enter a removal order in absentia and deny a noncitizen’s request to rescind that order?”
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation v. Fikre concerns Title 49 United States Code § 114, 44901, 44903, and Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations § 1560.105, 205.
    • The question presented: “Whether respondent’s claims challenging his placement on the No Fly List are moot.”
      • A moot issue is one with no practical significance but is academic or hypothetical.

Jan. 9

  • Sheetz v. County of El Dorado, California concerns the Unconstitutional Conditions Doctrine.
    • The question presented: ”Is a permit exaction exempt from the unconstitutional conditions doctrine as applied in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission and Dolan v. City of Tigard, Oregon simply because it is authorized by legislation?”
  • Office of the United States Trustee v. John Q. Hammons Fall 2006, LLC concerns the remedy for discrepancies in Chapter 11 bankruptcy quarterly fees.
    • The question presented: “Whether the appropriate remedy for the constitutional uniformity violation found by this Court in Siegel (2021), supra, is to require the United States Trustee to grant retrospective refunds of the increased fees paid by debtors in United States Trustee districts during the period of disuniformity, or is instead either to deem sufficient the prospective remedy adopted by Congress or to require the collection of additional fees from a much smaller number of debtors in Bankruptcy Administrator districts.”

Jan. 10

  • Smith v. Arizona concerns the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment.
    • The questions presented: “Whether the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment permits the prosecution in a criminal trial to present testimony by a substitute expert conveying the testimonial statements of a nontestifying forensic analyst, on the grounds that (a) the testifying expert offers some independent opinion and the analyst’s statements are offered not for their truth but to explain the expert’s opinion, and (b) the defendant did not independently seek to subpoena the analyst.”

In its October 2022 term, SCOTUS heard arguments in 60 cases. One case was dismissed. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ previous term.


SCOTUS has not issued any opinions since our Dec. 11 edition. The court has issued rulings in one case so far this term. 

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • Jan. 8: SCOTUS will issue orders.
  • Jan. 8: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • Jan. 9: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • Jan. 10: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
  • Jan. 12: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices.

Federal court action


President Joe Biden (D) has announced five new Article III nominees since our Dec. 11 edition.

The president has announced 200 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

Committee action

On Dec. 7, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported three nominees out of committee.


The Senate has confirmed seven new nominees since Dec.4.


The federal judiciary currently has 62 vacancies, 63 of which are for lifetime Article III judgeships. As of publication, there were four pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, there are 29 upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary, where judges have announced their intention to leave active judicial status.

For more information on judicial vacancies during President Biden’s term, 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.

Federal courts recent news

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on Jan. 15 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out! 


Myj Saintyl compiled and edited this newsletter, with contributions from Sam Post, and Ellie Mikus.