US Supreme Court Still Has 6 Blockbuster Rulings to Issue

US Supreme Court Still Has 6 Blockbuster Rulings to Issue
The Supreme Court held a special sitting on September 30, 2022, for the formal investiture ceremony of Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to release a number of significant rulings in the coming week, including ones relating to whether former President Donald Trump enjoys broad immunity for his activities as president, obstruction charges around the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, social media laws, and the power of federal agencies.

The high court tends to release all its decisions for a term by the end of June, and only several days remain in the month. The justices have yet to release 14 cases for the term, which started in October 2023.

Federal Agency Power

The Supreme Court will rule on a 40-year doctrine known as the Chevron doctrine. The precedent dictates that courts should defer to executive branch agencies’ expertise when it comes to interpreting laws passed by Congress, when Congress’s intent is unclear.

Essentially, under the 1984 doctrine, U.S. courts gave wide leeway to agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to use powers delegated to them by Congress to administer the law.

Two small fishing companies have challenged that precedent, claiming that paying for a monitor on a herring boat required by the National Marine Fisheries Service amounted to regulation that is too onerous. As the case illustrates, the ruling will affect not only the EPA and the SEC, but also myriad other federal agencies.

In oral arguments earlier this year, the justices appeared divided over a bid to further limit the regulatory powers of federal agencies in dispute involving the government-run program to monitor for overfishing of herring off New England’s coast.

The lower court rulings allowed the National Marine Fisheries Service to require commercial fishermen to help fund the program. Two fishing companies—New Jersey-based Loper Bright Enterprises and Rhode Island-based Relentless Inc—have argued that Congress did not authorize the agency, part of the U.S. Commerce Department, to establish the program.

Trump Immunity Case

Another case that will likely be ruled on this week involves former President Trump, who had argued that he should be declared immune for his activity after the 2020 election to deal with what he described as election fraud. Special counsel Jack Smith last year charged the former president with conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election, and the former president has appealed the case to the high court.

During arguments, the justices appeared skeptical of the Trump attorney’s arguments that he should be fully immune from prosecution. But some of the justices seemed inclined to carve out some immunity for presidents. Several justices offered warnings that all future former presidents could be prosecuted by their successors if immunity is not upheld.

The appeal has, so far, has delayed the criminal case against in Washington related to January 6th. The former president has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Social Media Contacts

A major case that the court will have to decide on is whether federal government officials should be broadly prohibited from communicating with social media companies, responding to lawsuits by two state attorneys general that the federal government violated the First Amendment by asking social media companies to take down content that it claimed was false or misleading.

The attorneys general had some success in the lower courts. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that blocked officials in the FBI, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Surgeon General’s office, the White House, and in other agencies from contacting social media firms.

The Biden administration appealed the Fifth Circuit’s decision, sending it to the Supreme Court. The circuit’s decision is currently on hold while the high court weighs the matter.

A number of Supreme Court justices during arguments in March appeared skeptical that government officials should be barred from contacting those companies.


While the Supreme Court already ruled on a challenge to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of an abortion-related drug, the high court is set to release an order on whether emergency rooms in Idaho can perform abortions on pregnant women during what is described as an emergency.

Under the 2022 Idaho Defense of Life Act law, abortion is banned under all circumstances unless it is “necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman.”

The Biden administration had challenged the mandate, saying it conflicts with a federal law known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which mandates emergency room doctors stabilize patients.

Other Social Media Issues

Laws in Texas and Florida that regulate bans on social media will also be decided during this Supreme Court’s term. Those laws bar social media companies from taking down or demoting user content that expresses certain views, coming in the wake of allegations that social media companies were targeting conservatives for censorship or deplatforming.

The justices on Feb. 26 expressed some reservations about the Republican-backed laws in the two states, but suggested that those mandates won’t be blocked entirely.

The justices expressed concern that the laws could undermine the editorial discretion of the platforms in violation of free speech protections. But they also indicated they might permit the laws to regulate certain non-expressive internet services such as the provision of email or direct messaging.

Jan. 6 Obstruction Clause

The Supreme Court will rule on an obstruction statute that may impact the Department of Justice’s prosecution of individuals who entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. One individual who was charged, Joseph Fischer, filed a lawsuit that challenged the statute, which makes it a crime if an individual “corruptly obstructs, influences, or impedes” an official proceeding.

In April, a number of the justices were skeptical of how the statute was being applied in Mr. Fischer’s case.

Attorney General Merrick Garland this month suggested in a congressional hearing that he would be prepared to drop cases for Jan. 6 defendants who were charged under that statute.

“We respect the Supreme Court. Whatever the court rules, we will act appropriately,” Mr. Garland said in response to a question from a Republican lawmaker.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times