Notable US Supreme Court cases on docket


“You can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what they are.”

— Chief Justice John Roberts

“The Supreme Court, of course, has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. But the Court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people.”

— Justice Elena Kagan

The United States Supreme Court has been back in session for about a month now and will likely issue its first few opinions of the October 2023 term. As this column does every fall, it’s time to take a look at some notable cases on the High Court’s docket this year.

Property rights are at stake in Devillier v. Texas. It’s a case that arises out of the State of Texas building a wall to elevate a portion of Interstate 10. Not only did the new wall cause water to back up and flood adjoining properties, it is alleged that the state extended the wall even after they knew of its effects, causing even more flooding. Because state law provided no cause of action for the property owners to sue Texas, they are instead attempting to sue the state under the 5th Amendment takings clause of the U.S. Constitution. Does that clause apply to the states or just to the federal government? Can it be used to sue a state directly? Those are the questions the Supreme Court will have to answer here.

James Freed is a popular guy in Port Huron, Michigan. So popular, he exceeded the 5,000 friend limit that Facebook has for individual profiles. So, he converted his profile to a “page,” which is both public and unlimited in followers. But then he got appointed city manager of Port Huron. He continued to use the page and post things both personal and professional. During the pandemic, he deleted posts from, and then blocked a man who was upset about the city’s handling of the situation. Was the page his own, personal account, or was it now public because of his position? If the latter, was he violating the First Amendment by deleting unwanted comments and blocking people from posting? The nine justices will decide those questions in Lindke v. Freed. A similar question is posed in O’Connor-Ratliff v. Garnier, another case pending this year.

Following the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms administratively modified its interpretation of bump stocks and concluded that bump stocks converted a weapon into being a “machine gun” under federal law, which subjected to owners to criminal liability. A federal district court first agreed with and then, on rehearing, overturned that interpretation. The Supreme Court, in Garland v. Cargill, will now decide the definition of “machine gun” as it pertains to bump stocks. A second firearms-related case, U.S. v. Rahimi, will decide whether a restraining order can prohibit a person from possessing a firearm.

Every year there is at least one case that garners little attention except amongst lawyers who practice in the area, but that has the possibility of having a major impact on the lives of everyday Americans. This year, that case is Looper Bright Enterprises vs. Raimondo (and it’s companion case, Relentless, Inc. v. Dept. of Commerce). For four decades, under a holding that has come to be known as the “Chevron Doctrine,” federal courts have been instructed to give deference to a federal agency’s interpretation of any federal law that Congress has explicitly given that agency the power to enforce. The High Court will now determine whether or not to do away with the doctrine, subjecting those federal agency interpretations to the some new standard of review.

Three separate cases deal with social media companies, regulations on them, and the First Amendment. Murthy v. Missouri deals with the question of whether federal agencies can attempt to regulate misinformation or disinformation on social media platforms. NetChoice LLC v. Paxton and Moody v. NetChoice LLC are lawsuits from social media companies against Texas and Florida, raising claims that the efforts of those states to regulate social media companies against a perceived political bias are unconstitutional government actions.

In the criminal realm, Smith v. Arizona asks whether the government may have one expert testify about the conclusions of another expert, when the second expert is unavailable for trial, or if that practice violates the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment.

Oral arguments in these cases began in early October and the court’s final decisions will be issued by late June.

David Hejmanowski is judge of the Probate/Juvenile Division of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, where he has served as magistrate, court administrator, and now judge, since 2003. He has written a weekly column on law and history for The Gazette since 2005.

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