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A Recap of the Supreme Court’s End-of-Term Rulings 

Written by Eliza Dorton

Edited by Annika Lilja


Image under Public Domain

In the last week of every June, the Supreme Court typically ends its term by unloading its most important decisions. This month, the Court saw major cases, such as former President Trump’s immunity claim, tech platforms’ free speech rights, the power of federal agencies, and more. 


The most notable decision released was on Trump’s immunity regarding the charges he faces for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. On July 1st, the Justices released their decision that Trump has “some level of immunity from prosecution,”  which will delay both a Jan. 6 trial and his sentencing for the hush money case (The New York Times). The vote for the immunity case followed along the conservative to the liberal bloc, with a 6-3 vote. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion. The Court stated that Trump attains immunity from official acts done during his time in office, which means that the case now falls to a lower court to decide what acts were official and what acts were private. If Trump wins the election in November, he will be able to order the Department of Justice to drop the charges for all federal prosecutions. 


On the subject of tech platforms’ free speech rights, the Court declined to rule and returned the two cases regarding free speech to the lower courts for further consideration. According to The New York Times, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that “neither lower appeals court had properly analyzed the First Amendment challenges to the Florida and Texas laws.” The two current laws in Florida and Texas differ in the way that “Florida prohibits all censorship of some speakers” while Texas “prohibits some censorship of all speakers,” wrote Judge Andrew S. Oldham of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Depending on the decision, the Supreme Court could allow or not allow social media platforms to remove users and/or their content based on the information they share. For now, however, that decision will have to wait until the next Supreme Court term. 


Another major decision the Court made on Monday was that it extended the time frame for companies to challenge regulations. The decision stated that a six-year statute of limitations for filing lawsuits starts when a certain regulation affects a company, in contrast to when it is first issued. This development goes hand in hand with the Court’s decision, from a week prior, to reduce the power of executive agencies by overruling the Chevron Doctrine, which “require[d] courts to defer agencies’ reasonable interpretations of ambiguous statutes,” (The New York Times). This means that if a case regarding regulations and a certain company were to be presented in front of a court, the court has to send the case to the agency with the regulation for them to interpret. According to Politico, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in her dissent of the regulation case that the decision would bring an onslaught of lawsuits and “potentially devastate the functioning of the federal government” by limiting the power of agencies. 


The Court made other major decisions this term, such as one pertaining to Jan. 6, disinformation of social media, and emergency abortion care. Here is The New York Times’ breakdown of the major decisions this term. Notably, the Court also ruled that Trump can remain on the ballot regardless of the 14th Amendment, which prevents insurrectionists from being in office. The Court further ruled, contrary to the Court’s majority ideologies, that Mifepristone, an abortion pill, will remain available. Many of these decisions have the ability to shape the US in the coming months and years, but for now, the Court will end its term. 


 

Sources:


Guida, Victoria. "Supreme Court Opens Door to 'Tsunami' of Regulatory Challenges." Politico, www.politico.com/news/2024/07/01/supreme-court-regulatory-challenges-00166023. Accessed 1 July 2024.


Liptak, Adam. "Supreme Court Extends Time Frame for Challenges to Regulations." The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2024/07/01/us/supreme-court-statute-limitations.html. Accessed 1 July 2024.


---. "Supreme Court Says Trump Is Partly Shielded from Prosecution." The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/live/2024/07/01/us/trump-immunity-supreme-court. Accessed 1 July 2024.


Liptak, Adam, and Abbie VanSickle. "Supreme Court Declines to Rule on Tech Platforms' Free Speech Rights." The New York Times. Accessed 1 July 2024.


Liptak, Adam, et al. "How the Supreme Court Ruled in the Major Cases 2024." The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/05/09/us/supreme-court-major-cases-2024.html. Accessed 1 July 2024.

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