Posted Mon, Jan 11th 2021 2:10 PM by Amy Howe
The Supreme Court issued further orders from the private conference of judges on Monday morning last week. After the judges added 14 new cases to their files on Friday afternoon, they weren’t expected to grant a review in any more cases on Monday – and they didn’t. Monday’s order list was noteworthy nonetheless, as the judges rejected a group of motions to expedite the consideration of petitions for review in cases where the 2020 presidential election results are to be reversed. The rejection confirms that the judges will not consider the petitions until after the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, effectively bringing the disputes up for discussion.
The eight petitions challenge the electoral process and lead to the four battlefield states of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which Biden won. Numerous lower courts rejected the challenges and prompted President Donald Trump’s campaign, along with the President’s Republican allies, to appeal to the Supreme Court. The challengers’ lawyers had asked the judges to expedite the court’s review of the petitions, and generally asked that responses against the review be submitted by late December or early January so the court can weigh before Congress counted the votes on January 1st. 6. However, the judges, whose last scheduled conference was before January 6th on December 11th, declined to consider the requests for expediting until their next scheduled conference on January 8th and then rejected them without explanation from. If it will be too late for the court to grant one of the 2020 election facilitations that the challengers seek, judges will likely not consider any of the petitions until mid to late February at the earliest, long after Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 .
Two other election-related petitions from Pennsylvania have a chance to be taken up by the Supreme Court after inauguration – but not in a stance that would affect the 2020 election. Petitions in the Republican Party of Pennsylvania against Boockvar and in the Democratic Party of Scarnati against Pennsylvania include challenges for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to extend the postal voting deadline last year. The challengers originally attempted to overturn the Pennsylvania results, but after the judges refused to act quickly, Republicans admitted in a letter December 15 that the case “cannot change the outcome of the 2020 election.” However, they argued that the court should grant a review to clear the law for future elections.
The court first examined Boockvar and Scarnati’s petitions at the January 8 conference. The court took no action on the petitions, and file records for the cases indicate that they were re-listed for further consideration at the conference this Friday.
Judges have put another dispute on the fast track over the constitutionality of Nevada’s stay-home orders to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. The judges ordered the state to respond by January 19 to a petition from Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, a church that argues that the state’s more favorable treatment of secular venues such as casinos while restricting church visits is against the first change violates. The Supreme Court denied a Church request for emergency aid in July, but the court’s composition has since changed, with the more conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett replacing the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The judges instructed the Church to respond by 12:00 noon on January 21 so that they might consider the case at their January 22nd conference – the last conference before their winter break – and, if they allow a review, hear oral arguments and can decide on the case of this term.
The judges turned down Bruni v City of Pittsburgh, challenging a Pittsburgh ordinance that creates a “buffer zone” around abortion clinics. Anti-abortion activists who want to speak to patients entering the clinic went to court arguing that the ordinance violated their first fitting rights. The US Circuit 3 Court of Appeals concluded the ordinance allowed “sidewalk counseling,” and the challengers appealed to the Supreme Court, which announced Monday that he would not weigh.
Judge Clarence Thomas filed a statement regarding the court’s decision to stay out of the dispute. He wrote that “buffer zones” like Pittsburgh’s “often place serious limits on freedom of speech”. Furthermore, the test used by the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of a “buffer zone” law in a 2000 case is contrary to the court’s “current First Amendment doctrine”. Thomas agreed that the court rightly refused to review the case “because it concerns unclear preliminary questions about the correct interpretation of public law”. But he added that the judges “should take up this issue in an appropriate case to resolve the blatant tension in our precedents”.
The judges have failed to act in several other high profile cases, including Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Org., Contesting a Mississippi Act that Bans Abortion Generally After 15 Weeks of Gestation, and United States v Tsarnaev, the federal government’s petition on the Boston case -Marathon bomber to check Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose death sentence was overturned by the 1st Circuit. The judges examined all of these cases for the first time at last week’s conference and were brought up for review at the conference on Friday.
This post was originally published on Howe on the Court.
Amy Howe, Judge Giving More Orders From Conference On Friday, Refuse To Rush Election-Related Cases,
SCOTUSblog (January 11, 2021, 2:10 p.m.), https://www.scotusblog.com/2021/01/justices-issue-more-orders-from-fridays-conference-decline-to-fast-track-election – related cases /