Supreme Court 2013-2014 Term Preview: Here are the Big Ones

October 7, 2013
By Leah Pickett | 0 comments

Thanks to the Legal Information Institute for the information.

Campaign Finance

As we noted in our blog post on the topic, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission will decide whether aggregate campaign, committee, and party contribution limits are constitutional. In the 2012 election, plaintiff McCutcheon wanted to donate $25,000 to three committees and make maximum contributions each to 28 federal candidates, donations that would have violated the $70,800 net limit on committee donations and $46,000 net donation limit for candidates. Overturning biennial limits would allowing McCutcheon to donate to a higher number of candidates or organizations. This case has the potential to erode campaign finance regulation that was already hobbled by Citizens United. A ruling against aggregate contribution limits would lay the groundwork for the elimination of candidate contribution limits, which would effectively eliminate the average American from the political conversation.

Affirmative Action

Unlike the recent Fisher v. University of Texas case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action will decide whether Michigan’s 2006 constitutional amendment prohibiting public universities and schools from using race-conscious admissions processes violates the Equal Protection Clause. Also under consideration is the “political restructuring doctrine,” which the Court has previously relied on to prevent placing onerous burdens on minorities seeking change through the political process. Even in an era where social class and race have dramatic effects on one’s educational opportunities and schools are more segregated than during Brown v. Board of Education, affirmative action policies seem to be constantly under fire.

Legislative Prayer

In Town of Greece v. Galloway, plaintiffs Galloway and Stephens argue that a town’s practice of beginning its Town Board meetings with a prayer unconstitutionally coerces them to participate in sectarian prayer. A lower court agreed that the practice violates the Establishment Clause. In McCullen v. Coakley, Massachusetts’ selective exclusion law is under the fire. The law prohibits individuals other than employees or agents from entering a 35-foot “buffer zone” around reproductive health care clinics. The First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the regulation, saying that it balances the state’s interest in protecting prospective patients and employees with the First Amendment rights of others.

Stay tuned for developments — we’ll be keeping close tabs on these cases.


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