June is a busy month for the Supreme Court. The Daily Signal has given us a tidy round-up of seven cases to keep an eye on.
Reed v. Town of Gilbert: This is a free speech case. The Good News Community Church in Gilbert, Ariz., uses signage to promote events at the church. The town has codes regarding signage, and the church says they are not fair. For example, the church is allowed to put signs for only 12 hours before their Sunday services. Meanwhile, a real estate agency can post much larger signs for 30 days.
The Supreme Court will decide whether the town’s claim that the ordinance lacks a discriminatory motive is enough to justify its differential treatment of religious signs.
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project: This case has to do with the Fair Housing Act, which forbids using race as a reason to deny housing. This case
alleges that the Texas agency disproportionately approved low-income housing tax credits to developers in minority neighborhoods while disapproving tax credits in “predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods,” leading to a concentration of low-income housing and effectively creating segregated housing patterns.
King v. Burwell: Oh, the Internal Revenue Code: nearly 80,000 pages of government verbiage. This case, however, is only concerned with four words in that code: “established by the State.” Those four words hold the future of Obamacare,
as the justices consider whether the law limits tax credits to state-run exchanges or whether tax credits also may be extended to the federally run exchanges.
Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans: Texas must be feeling feisty this summer. This case began with messages on license plates, and whether those messages mean a state endorses said messages.
Are messages on specialty plates government speech or private speech? The State of Texas issues a standard license plate but authorizes some specialty plates for an additional fee. The Sons of Confederate Veterans sought permission to create a specialty license plate featuring the group’s logo and the Confederate flag. Texas denied the group’s request after receiving hundreds of public comments opposing their proposed license plate.
Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA: Follow the money. The Utility Air Regulatory Group sued the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming that the agency was disregarding cost when implementing policy. The EPA – in an attempt to control hazardous emissions from electric utilities – spent almost $10 billion, but the benefits were only the $3-6 million/annually. A lower court ruled that the EPA must consider costs. The justices will have to decide.
Horne v. Department of Agriculture: Of all things, this one is about raisins. Well, it’s about more than raisins, but that’s how it started, and it goes back to a New Deal program. Raisin farmers are required to sell their crops to handlers, who must remove a portion of the crop for the federal government to either destroy or sell overseas. (It was supposed to help farmers maintain profits during tough times.) California raisin farmers Marvin and Laura Horne claim that the government is not paying just compensation for these crops, thus violating the Fifth Amendment.
Obergefell v. Hodges: You knew there had to be at least one same-sex marriage case here. This one asks: must a state legally acknowledge same sex marriage from another state?
Same-sex couples from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee challenged their states’ marriage and non-recognition laws. The lower court ruled in favor of the states, finding that the issue should be left to the customary political process. The Court will decide whether states may choose their marriage policy or be required to accept a national definition of marriage.
Legally at least, summer is off to a very warm start.