Supreme court heads back into session

Redrawn Districts, Image from The Washington Post.

Redrawn Districts, Image from The Washington Post.

Aly Johnston, Writer

On the first Monday of October, the Supreme Court annually goes back into session. This year, on October 2nd, the Supreme Court and its newly appointed judge, Neil Gorsuch, returned to hearing cases. The court is set to hear many tough cases, and hopefully the new and returning justices will be up to the task.

Gorsuch was President Donald Trump’s pick to replace the late Antonin Scalia. When Justice Scalia passed in February of 2016, there was much buzz in Washington about his successor. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a Democratic judge in the US Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit for the job, but the Republican majority Senate refused to hold a hearing or vote on this nomination. They hoped that then candidate Donald Trump would win the 2016 election, and he would appoint a GOP judge for the seat.

On January 31, 2017, newly inaugurated President Trump announced his nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the position. After confirmation hearings and filibusters, the Senate confirmed the nomination with a 54-45 vote early April. Gorsuch was sworn in on April 8th, 2017, becoming the 101st associate justice on the Supreme Court.

On the docket this year for the Supreme Court are some important cases. Carpenter v. United States, the court plans to review the constitutionality of law enforcement seizing and searching a cell phone users records to reveal their movements and motions. As no current justices were on the supreme court when the governing precedence was created, there is really no way to know how the judges will vote, the Washington Examiner reports. The case is set to be argued on Wednesday, November 29th.

Gill v. Whitford presents the Supreme Court with an issue that could potentially affect every American. Gerrymandering is when  political boundaries for representation in government are redrawn to change the majority party. Some areas are currently drawn into odd shapes, and some believe this is evidence of gerrymandering. This upcoming case will dispute if justices should hear claims of gerrymandering and if new standards should exist to help decide these cases.

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commision is a case that has pitted religious liberty rights advocates against gay rights supporters. A gay couple in Denver, CO, visited Masterpiece Cakeshop to place an order for a cake to celebrate their wedding. Jack Phillips, the owner of the cakeshop, refused to bake a cake for them on the basis of it contradicting his Christian values. The couple filed a complaint against the shop, and the case has now reached the Supreme Court after 5 years of judicial debate. This case will either side with Phillips, who aims to secure his religious liberty in his workplace, or Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who are hoping for their gay rights to be upheld.

The 2017 Supreme Court docket looks to be filled with important and influential cases. The decisions made by these nine justices will likely make a lasting impact and the United States as a whole; hopefully the eight returning justices are prepared for the new year, and the new justice is up to his first full year.