Sweaty SCOTUS Season Is Here: 3 Cases We’re Watching

The Supreme Court will issue rulings this month on the Indian Child Welfare Act, affirmative action, and LGBTQ+ rights.

Image of the front of the Supreme Court from a side angle
This Supreme Court term may not have such a historic case like last year's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, but it has others with the potential to unleash devastating harms. Austen Risolvato/Rewire News Group

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The Memorial Day holiday marks both the unofficial start to summer and the beginning of Sweaty SCOTUS Season here at Rewire News Group. It’s the time of year when we wait for the conservative justices to render down the term’s worst decisions.

Last year, we waited on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision with the faintest hope that the leak of the draft opinion the month prior showing the Court was prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade would have changed. It did not, and we’ve been tracking the fallout of that decision here ever since.

This term may not have such a historic case, but it has others with the potential to unleash devastating harms. Here are a few that we’re watching.

Haaland v. Brackeen

This case threatens to upend the Indian Child Welfare Act, a nearly 50-year-old law safeguarding against Native and Indigenous children being adopted out of their families and tribes. The ICWA was designed to try and halt the cultural genocide against Native and Indigenous people in this country by preserving tribal and familial ties in adoption.

There’s the very real possibility that by the end of this month, the Court will have gotten rid of those protections by claiming they are racist against white families who want to adopt.

Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard/University of North Carolina

The Court is also poised to end affirmative action in university admissions on the grounds that those policies are also racist. Should this happen—and there’s every reason to believe it will be based on oral arguments in the fall—the results will reach far beyond college admission programs. That’s because the justices will have to rewrite constitutional law in order to determine that race-based affirmative action programs are unconstitutional because they are not “race-blind” or “race-neutral.”

If that framing sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same one circulating in school districts nationwide as conservatives push to whitewash history curriculums that either downplay the harms and reality of slavery and Reconstruction or erase them from public school curricula altogether.

303 Creative LLC v. Elenis

The Court’s conservatives—during Pride Month no less—may have yet another opportunity to rewrite constitutional law to their liking and enshrine anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination into law.

This time, it’s the First Amendment’s free speech principles in order to allow people with an anti-LGBTQ+ bias to avoid complying with civil rights laws. A wedding website designer claims she should not have to design websites for same-sex couples because those websites are effectively “speech,” and doing so effectively compels her to endorse marriage equality, something she is religiously opposed to.

A ruling on her behalf would open the door to a host of possible avenues to further marginalize LGBTQ+ folks—at a time when legislative and actual violence against them is spiking.

So while the Court may not have a decision like Dobbs on its docket this month, the conservative justices can still enact plenty of harm. And don’t forget, thanks to the conservative crusade against medication abortion and their cooked-up case against FDA approval of mifepristone, there’s the very real possibility that abortion is back before the Court in the fall.

In other words, it’s nothing but bad news from this Court for the foreseeable future. When the Court issues these decisions, we’ll bring you live reaction episodes of Boom! Lawyered, so be sure to follow us on YouTube for updates on when we go live.