Updated: SCOTUS' Last Day: EPA, Lethal Injection And Redistricting Boards
Credit: Wikipedia
June 29, 2015

After last week's round of goodies from the Supreme Court, I'm not as optimistic about the outcome of the final three, which will be announced this morning at 10 AM EDT. Here's what they have left to rule on:

EPA Regulations: The EPA case is really three separate consolidated cases about how far the EPA may reach in its regulatory authority, specifically with regard to regulating utility companies' mercury emissions, and whether the EPA had properly taken costs into account when setting emissions standards for utility companies. According to the reports from courtroom observers, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy were the only possibly swing votes, with Roberts very much in doubt. I suspect the EPA will lose this one on a 5-4 vote if those observations are correct.

Update: In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the EPA had improperly imposed regulations without considering the costs. In the end, it will be mostly a symbolic victory, but it does mean implementations of new EPA regulations will likely be slower and harder-fought.

Lethal Injection: Glossip v. Gross addresses the question of whether the cocktail used to bring about death is done in a manner consistent with the Constitution. The oral arguments were extremely contentious in this case, with Justice Scalia calling those who oppose the death penalty "abolitionists." SCOTUSblog has a good plain-English analysis here.

Update: In another 5-4 decision, the Court decided that states could continue killing inmates in this manner. However, there was a blizzard of dissents and responses to the dissent, sparked by Justice Breyer's stated desire to hear the broader issue of whether the death penalty is constitutional at all.

Redistricting Commissions: In the pending case, Arizona State Legislature vs. Arizona Redistricting Commission, the question at hand is whether an independent redistricting board is constitutional, since it removes the state legislature from the process of drawing districts. Speaking as a Californian who has seen much fairer districts as a result of the independent process, I don't want to see them gutted. But after listening to the oral arguments, it's entirely possible they could be, and by a larger-than-minimum majority.

Update: The final 5-4 decision upheld the redistricting commissions, causing me to exhale in a huge sigh of relief.

By 11:00 AM EDT, the suspense will be over along with this Court term. Stay tuned, and we'll bring you the results later today.

It's all over but the cleanup now. The Court announced that they will hear Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin for the second time (Kagan recused). Fisher concerns a challenge to UT's affirmative action admissions programs. As SCOTUSblog noted this morning in their liveblog, rehearing this case should give the idea of the court "moving left" a bit of a pause.

They also agreed to hear a case concerning a water rights dispute between Mississippi and Tennessee, yet another ERISA pre-emption case, a case involving jury instructions given in a criminal trial, and another to resolve whether the state or federal criminal courts had jurisdiction in a criminal proceeding.

And thanks to SCOTUSblog, I now know that today is Solicitor General Don Verrilli's birthday. May it be a happy and restful one. He worked hard this last term!

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