TagSupreme Court

SCOTUS declines to act in emergency appeal to Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy

The Supreme Court of the United States on Aug. 31 did not respond to an emergency appeal filed by a group of abortion providers seeking to block enforcement of a Texas law banning abortion procedures after six weeks of pregnancy and authorizing private civil right of action related to violations of the law. The latter authorization allows private citizens to bring civil actions against individuals for violating the law or aiding in violation of the law. The bill, Senate Bill 8, was signed into law on May 19 by Gov. Greg Abbott (R). 

The appellants argued that the law violated the Supreme Court’s rulings in Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), establishing the constitutional right to have an abortion before the point of fetal viability, approximately 24 weeks into a pregnancy. The emergency appeal was submitted through the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to Justice Samuel Alito, the justice assigned to review emergency appeals originating from the circuit court. As the circuit justice, Alito was authorized to respond to the request himself or refer the matter to the full court for consideration.

Click here to review the Supreme Court justices’ circuit assignments.

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SCOTUS roundup: noteworthy court announcements in August 2021

Although the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is in its summer recess, the court has issued orders and opinions emanating from its emergency docket this month. The emergency docket refers to orders and opinions issued in cases that are not part of the court’s merits docket of cases that are scheduled for argument.

Aug. 12

  1. Justice Barrett denies request related to university vaccine requirement: JusticeAmy Coney Barrett denied a request for an application for injunctive relief filed by a group of students at Indiana University. Injunctive relief, also known as an injunction, is a judicial order stopping a party from performing certain actions, or requiring an action to be performed in a specific manner. The application requested that the court block the school’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students. The request was denied without being referred to the full court.
  2. Court issues ruling on state eviction moratorium: In a 6-3per curiam ruling, SCOTUS granted an injunction filed by a group of landlords in New York. The application requested that the court lift part of a state moratorium on residential evictions–Part A of the COVID Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA)–established in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. JusticeStephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by JusticesSonia Sotomayor andElena Kagan.

Aug. 20

  1. Justice Barrett denies request for injunction of groundbreaking for Obama presidential library: JusticeAmy Coney Barrett denied a request for an injunction filed by Protect Our Parks, Inc. The application requested that the court block the groundbreaking construction and excavation related to building the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park in Chicago, Illinois. The request was denied without being referred to the full court.

Aug. 24

  1. Court rejects application for stay of Trump administration “remain in Mexico” policy: SCOTUS denied the Biden administration’s application for a stay, or a halt, of aU.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas injunction requiring the reinstatement of a Trump administration program referred to as the “remain in Mexico” policy. The policy requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting a U.S. immigration court hearing. The order stated that JusticesStephen Breyer,Sonia Sotomayor, andElena Kagan would have granted the application.

Aug. 26

  1. Court issues ruling on federal eviction moratorium: In a 6-3per curiam ruling, SCOTUS granted an application, filed by the Alabama Association of REALTORS et al, to vacate the nationwide moratorium on evictions of tenants living in a county experiencing substantial or high levels of COVID–19 transmission and who make declarations of financial need. The moratorium was imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In the unsigned opinion, the court stated, “If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it. The application to vacate stay presented to the Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is granted.” Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, joined by JusticesSonia Sotomayor andElena Kagan.

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Union Station: Union dues lawsuit heads to Supreme Court

Ninth Circuit grants plaintiffs’ request to uphold district court dismissal of union dues lawsuit

On Aug. 16, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted two Alaska state employees’ request to uphold a district court’s dismissal of their lawsuit so they can appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court proceedings had been on hold since September 2020, awaiting the resolution of Belgau v. Inslee, which the Supreme Court declined to hear on June 21, 2021.  

Parties to the suit

The plaintiffs are Linda Creed, who works for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and Tyler Riberio, who works for the Alaska Department of Transportation. Attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center, which says it “fights for the constitutional rights of American families, workers, advocates and entrepreneurs,” represent the plaintiffs. The Alaska Policy Forum, which says its “mission is to empower and educate Alaskans and policymakers by promoting policies that grow freedom for all,” also assisted in the lawsuit. 

The defendants are the Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA), an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, and former Alaska Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka in her official capacity. Attorneys from Altshuler Berzon LLP, Dillon & Findley, P.C., and Consovoy McCarthy PLLC represent the defendants. 

About the case 

The plaintiffs filed their complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska on March 16, 2020. The plaintiffs wanted to cancel their union memberships and paycheck deductions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. They alleged that the defendants’ continued deductions of union dues from their paychecks according to a timetable plaintiffs agreed to before the Janus ruling had violated their First Amendment rights. The plaintiffs’ attorneys said the authorizations “[could not] constitute affirmative consent by those employees to waive their First Amendment right to not pay union dues or fees … because the Supreme Court had not yet recognized that right.” 

On July 14, 2020, Senior U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland, who was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan (R), granted ASEA’s motion to dismiss. Holland wrote that the plaintiffs “voluntarily agreed to join the union and have dues deducted from their paychecks. Their union membership agreements were binding contracts that remain enforceable even after Janus. … Because of these binding contracts, plaintiffs have not stated a plausible violation of their First Amendment rights.”

The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Aug. 25, 2020. On Sept. 11, 2020, the court granted ASEA’s motion to delay the proceedings until Belgau v. Inslee, which was then-pending in the Ninth Circuit, was resolved. On Sept. 16, 2020, a Ninth Circuit panel upheld the district court’s decision in Belgau v. Inslee, writing: “In the face of [plaintiffs’] voluntary agreement to pay union dues and in the absence of any legitimate claim of compulsion, the district court appropriately dismissed the First Amendment claim.” On June 21, 2021, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in Belgau v. Inslee

After the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Belgau v. Inslee, Creed and Riberio filed a motion in the Ninth Circuit requesting summary affirmance—a decision without an opinion—on July 2, 2021. The plaintiffs’ motion stated:

The Court’s decision in Belgau that no First Amendment waiver is required before dues are deducted pursuant to an employee’s dues deduction authorization forecloses Plaintiffs’ claims for retrospective relief, while the parties agree that this Court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ claims for prospective relief. 

To be clear, Plaintiffs do not concede that Belgau is correctly decided. …

Plaintiffs, nonetheless, acknowledge that Belgau is currently controlling circuit precedent barring their claims for retrospective relief, and that their claims for prospective relief are now moot. They therefore move the Court to summarily affirm the District Court’s decision on the ground that their appeal is currently controlled by Belgau, so Plaintiffs may petition the United States Supreme Court for review.

On Aug. 16, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted the plaintiffs’ request, upholding the district court’s decision.  The panel included Senior Judge Mary Schroeder, a Jimmy Carter (D) appointee, Senior Judge A. Wallace Tashima, a Bill Clinton (D) appointee, and Judge Andrew Hurwitz, a Barack Obama (D) appointee. 

The plaintiffs plan to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

The case name and number are Creed v. Alaska State Employees Association, 20-35743.

About the Ninth Circuit 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit hears appeals from the district courts within its jurisdiction, which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The chief judge of the court is Sidney Thomas, a Clinton appointee. Of the court’s 29 active judges, Clinton nominated nine, George W. Bush (R) nominated three, Obama nominated seven, and Donald Trump (R) nominated 10.  

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 98 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

No public-sector union bills saw activity this week.




U.S. Supreme Court releases October 2021 argument calendar

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released the argument calendar for its October 2021 sitting on July 13. The court will begin hearing arguments for its 2021-2022 term on Oct. 4, with nine cases currently scheduled for oral argument during the month.

Cases scheduled for the October sitting include:

October 4

  1. Mississippi v. Tennessee
  2. Wooden v. United States

October 5

  1. Brown v. Davenport
  2. Servotronics, Inc. v. Rolls-Royce PLC

October 6

  1. United States v. Zubaydah

October 12

  1. Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, P.S.C.
  2. Hemphill v. New York

October 13

  1. United States v. Tsarnaev
  2. Babcock v. Saul

To date, SCOTUS has agreed to hear 31 cases during its 2021-2022 term. Of those, 20 have not yet been scheduled for argument, and two cases were dismissed. During its 2020-2021 term, the court agreed to hear oral arguments in 62 cases.

Additional reading:

Supreme Court cases, October term 2020-2021

History of the Supreme Court

Supreme Court of the United States



Ballotpedia releases reversal rate analysis for U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020-2021 term

During its October 2020 term, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued opinions in 69 cases. It reversed 55 lower court decisions (79.7%) and affirmed 14. This term’s reversal rate was 9 percentage points higher than the average rate of reversal since 2007 (70.7%). Sixteen cases originated from the 9th Circuit, the most from any circuit (including state courts). The 9th Circuit’s judgment was reversed in 15 of those cases.

When SCOTUS is asked to review a case, a petition for a writ of certiorari must be filed within 90 days of a lower court’s ruling. Each term, approximately 7,000 to 8,000 new petitions are filed with the court. During its weekly conference—a private meeting of the justices—the court reviews these petitions. Granting certiorari requires affirmative votes from four justices.

SCOTUS hears and reaches decisions in an average of 76 cases each year. There are two major decisions the court can make—affirm a lower court’s ruling or reverse it. Most cases originate from a lower court—any one of the 13 appeals circuits, state-level courts, or U.S. district courts. Original jurisdiction cases, which typically involve disputes between two states, cannot be considered affirmed or reversed since SCOTUS is the first and only court that rules in the case.

Since 2007, SCOTUS has released opinions in 1,062 cases. Of those, it reversed a lower court decision 751 times (70.7%) and affirmed a lower court decision 303 times (28.5%). During this time, SCOTUS has decided more cases originating from the 9th Circuit (207) than from any other circuit. The next-most is the 5th Circuit, which had 79 decisions. SCOTUS has overturned a greater number of cases originating from the 9th Circuit (164), but it overturned a higher percentage of cases originating in the 6th Circuit (81.1%, or 60 of 74 cases).

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U.S. Supreme Court accepts 10 cases for upcoming term

On July 2, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review in 10 cases to be argued during the upcoming October 2021 term:

Carson v. Makin

United States v. Taylor

Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, P.L.L.C.

Hughes v. Northwestern University

Becerra v. Empire Health Foundation

CVS Pharmacy, Inc. v. Doe

Gallardo v. Marstiller

American Hospital Association v. Becerra

Pivotal Software, Inc. v. Tran

Mississippi v. Tennessee

The Supreme Court will begin hearing cases for the term on October 4, 2021. As of July 2, 2021, the court had agreed to hear 31 cases during its October 2021 term. One case was dismissed.

Additional reading:

Supreme Court cases, October term 2020-2021

History of the Supreme Court

Supreme Court of the United States



U.S. Supreme Court issues ruling in two cases on July 1

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in two cases on July 1. One case—Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta—was argued during the court’s April sitting, while Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee was argued during the court’s March sitting.

In Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta, the Thomas More Law Center and Americans for Prosperity challenged a California policy requirement that tax-exempt §501(c)(3) charitable organizations must disclose the names and addresses of major donors. The groups argued that the policy violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had ruled in favor of the state. However, in a 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed that ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the district court was correct in entering judgment in favor of the petitioners and permanently enjoining the California Attorney General from collecting their Schedule B forms. SCOTUS ruled that the Ninth Circuit erred when it vacated those injunctions and directed the entry of judgment for the attorney general. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Samuel Alito filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan..

With a 6-3 opinion in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy and HB 2023 did not violate §2 of the Voting Rights Act, and that HB 2023 was not enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the majority opinion of the court. Justice Neil Gorsuch filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Elena Kagan filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

The court issued 67 opinions this term. Two cases were decided in one consolidated opinion. Ten cases were decided without argument. 

Additional reading:

Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta

Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee



Supreme Court issues opinions in three cases on June 29

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued opinions in three cases on June 29. To date, the court has issued 64 opinions for its 2020-2021 term. Two cases were decided in one consolidated opinion and nine cases were decided without argument. Two cases argued during the term have yet to be decided.

Johnson v. Guzman Chavez (formerly Albence v. Guzman Chavez) concerned the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and the statutory authority under which the government detains immigrants seeking to overturn deportation after a reinstated removal order. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. 

In a 6-3 opinion, the court reversed the decision of the 4th Circuit, holding that 8 U.S.C. § 1231 governs the detention of aliens subject to reinstated orders of removal. Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissent joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Minerva Surgical Inc. v. Hologic Inc. concerned patent infringement claims and the doctrine of assignor estoppel. The case came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

In a 5-4 opinion, the court vacated the Federal Circuit’s judgement and remanded the case for further proceedings. It held that the Federal Circuit was right to uphold assignor estoppel, but assignor estoppel applies only when the assignor’s claim of invalidity contradicts explicit or implicit representations they made in assigning the patent. Justice Kagan wrote the majority opinion of the court. Justices Alito and Amy Coney Barrett filed dissenting opinions. Barrett’s dissent was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.

PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey concerned jurisdictional requirements of eminent domain under the Natural Gas Act. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

In a 5-4 opinion, the court reversed the 3rd Circuit’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that Section 717f(h) authorizes FERC certificate holders to condemn all necessary rights-of-way, whether owned by private parties or by states. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Thomas. Justice Barrett filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Thomas, Kagan, and Gorsuch

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SCOTUS issues two per curiam opinions, accepts new cases for review

Image of the front of the United States Supreme Court building.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued orders on June 28 from its weekly conference, issuing two per curiam opinions and granting review in two cases for its upcoming October 2021 term.

The following two cases were decided without argument in per curiam rulings. A per curiam opinion is unsigned and delivered by the court as a whole.

  • In the case Lombardo v. City of St. Louis, Missouri, a case involving excessive force precedent, SCOTUS vacated the lower court’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings in a 6-3 opinion. Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch.
  • In Pakdel v. City and County of San Francisco, California, a case concerning takings claims, the court ruled unanimously to vacate the lower court’s ruling and remanded the case.

To date, the court has issued 61 opinions this term. Two cases were decided in one consolidated opinion. Nine cases were decided without argument. Five cases argued during the term have yet to be decided.

The court accepted two cases to be argued during the 2021-2022 term:

  • City of Austin, Texas v. Reagan National Advertising of Texas Inc. concerns the constitutionality of a municipal sign code. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
  • Patel v. Garland involves judicial review of non-discretionary determinations in immigration proceedings. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 21 cases during its 2021-2022 term. One case was dismissed after it was granted.

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U.S. Supreme Court issues rulings in three cases on June 25

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in three cases on June 25. One case—Transunion LLC v. Ramirez—was argued during the court’s March sitting, and two cases—Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association—were argued during the court’s April sitting.

Transunion LLC v. Ramirez concerned the standing of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit. The court reversed the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings in a 5-4 ruling, holding that members of the class-action lawsuit whose credit files were not provided to third-party businesses did not suffer a concrete harm from TransUnion’s actions and therefore lacked standing to sue under Article III. Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the opinion of the court. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Justice Kagan filed a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor.

With a 6-3 opinion in Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court held that Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) are “Indian tribe[s]” under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA) and, as a result, are eligible for CARES Act funding. Justice Sonia Sotomayor authored the court’s majority opinion. Justice Neil Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan.

In the case of HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association, the court issued another 6-3 opinion, reversing the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit’s ruling. The lower court’s ruling held that a small refinery that previously received a hardship exemption may obtain an extension even if it experienced a lapse in exemption coverage during the previous year. Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the majority opinion. Justice Amy Coney Barrett filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

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