Guns for Domestic Abusers, Agency Power Next Up at Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is already planning to dive back into the culture wars and tackle the power of regulatory agencies in Washington in the slew of new cases it’s taking up in the fall.

(Bloomberg) — The Supreme Court is already planning to dive back into the culture wars and tackle the power of regulatory agencies in Washington in the slew of new cases it’s taking up in the fall. 

After ending its 2022 term with far-reaching decisions striking down affirmative action in college admissions, tossing a student loan relief plan, and backing a business opposing same-sex marriage, the justices are poised to hear cases on gun rights and administrative authority. They might also delve back into the abortion debate.

Here are the cases to watch. 

‘Chevron’ Doctrine

Conservatives who have spent years pushing to rein in federal bureaucrats will have a shot at victory as the Supreme Court considers toppling the so-called Chevron doctrine, a 39-year-old precedent that critics say has fueled an explosion of government overreach.

The doctrine — once supported by conservatives — gives federal agencies latitude to interpret ambiguous laws. If the justices overturn the precedent, there are vast implications for government regulations and presidential authority, potentially touching issues from climate change to finance to corporate power. 

The case, Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, centers on four New Jersey fishing companies that asked the court to overturn the watershed 1984 Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council ruling. That decision said courts should defer to administrative agencies when they offer a reasonable interpretation of an unclear statute. 

SEC, CFPB Questions

The Supreme Court will review a pair of cases focused on the structure and constitutionality of some federal agencies.

The court will review a ruling that cast doubt on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s use of in-house judges to handle cases. And separately, it will consider a case centered on whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s funding system is constitutional. 

In SEC v. Jarkesy, the justices will consider the legitimacy of in-house judges at federal agencies. A lower court ruled that Congress violated the Seventh Amendment, which protects the right to a jury trial in civil lawsuits, by letting the SEC ask an administrative law judge to impose penalties rather than going to federal court. 

In CFPB v. Community Financial Services Association, the court will also consider whether the agency’s funding system — which does not go through annual congressional appropriations — is constitutional. The decision in the case could impact a slew of other federal agencies that receive their funding in similar ways, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Comptroller of the Currency. 

Guns and Domestic Violence

The Supreme Court will decide the fate of a federal law barring gun possession by people who are subject to domestic-violence restraining orders. The Biden administration is appealing a ruling that declared the 1994 law unconstitutional.  

The case, US v. Rahimi, will test the high court’s decision last year establishing a constitutional right to carry a handgun in public. The case revolves around Zackey Rahimi, who was indicted under the law after taking part in five shootings near Arlington, Texas, in 2020 and 2021. Rahimi was subject to a two-year restraining order secured by an ex-girlfriend he was accused of assaulting and threatening.

Abortion Pill

The Supreme Court earlier this year preserved access to mifepristone. But the fight has continued in lower courts and it’s likely to return to the high court, setting up the highest-stakes legal battle over abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. 

A conservative appeals court is considering whether to uphold a federal trial court’s opinion that would suspend mifepristone. The Texas lawsuit contends the Food and Drug Administration did not adequately consider safety concerns when it allowed mifepristone to enter the market.

Social Media Laws

The Supreme Court earlier this year asked the Biden administration for input on Florida and Texas laws that would sharply restrict the editorial discretion of the largest social media platforms. The US has not yet submitted its opinion. While the high court hasn’t said whether it will take up the case, it is being closely watched by the technology industry.

Two tech industry groups challenged the Republican-backed laws. The Texas law bars large platforms from discriminating based on viewpoint, while the Florida statute requires a “thorough rationale” for every content-moderation decision.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott say the measures are needed to keep conservative voices from being silenced.

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