Sunday, June 29, 2014

SCOTUS Season Finale Online Viewing Guide

Monday, June 30, 2014

9:15 - Coverage Begins

Let me be clear, there is only one place to go for good Supreme Court live coverage: SCOTUSblog liveblog. They'll start at 9:15 am, but the action doesn't really start until 9:30. That's when SCOTUS is expected to issue an order from its last conference, including cert. grants and denials (in other words, they announce some cases they will hear, and some they won't - along with a few other types of orders).

9:30 - Undercard

Keep the SCOTUSblog liveblog going, but open another tab to the Supreme Court's order list. When you see one for 6/30/2014 (you may need to refresh the screen periodically), open it and see what got granted. If you want to know what the different cases are about, SCOTUSblog has you covered there too - with petition's they're watching. If a case is not on their page, Google is your friend (or you can find the lower court's opinion in a legal research database like WestlawNext).

For employment law nerds, the case to watch for is Young v. UPS:
Whether, and in what circumstances, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k), requires an employer that provides work accommodations to non-pregnant employees with work limitations to provide work accommodations to pregnant employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”
The Court requested input from the SG and relisted the case after already going to conference once - both good signs that the Court is seriously considering granting cert.

10:00

THE MAIN EVENT!

Starting at about 10:00, you can start furiously hitting update/refresh on the Supreme Court's main page (okay, I'm only kidding - pace yourself, no need to crash the site - refresh periodically). Recent decisions are on the right side of the page.

Stick with the liveblog too though - they usually get the holding out a few seconds to minutes before the opinions appear on the Supreme Court website. Remember, you can not trust the mainstream media with Supreme Court coverage (okay - maybe we should give them a shot at redemption?).

What are we waiting for? I expect two opinions - and, if I had to guess, in this order:

Harris v. Quinn -
(1) Whether a state may, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, compel personal care providers to accept and financially support a private organization as their exclusive representative to petition the state for greater reimbursements from its Medicaid programs; and (2) whether the lower court erred in holding that the claims of providers in the Home Based Support Services Program are not ripe for judicial review.
The excitement (panic? controversy?) over this case is the possibility that the Supreme Court will hold that "fair share" public employee mandatory union dues are unconstitutional (plenty of other, frankly not-so-interesting, potential outcomes are possible though).

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell - 
Conestoga: Whether the religious owners of a family business, or their closely held, for-profit corporation, have free exercise rights that are violated by the application of the contraceptive-coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act. 
Hobby Lobby: Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.
Annnnd, that's a wrap on the latest SCOTUS season. Then you can dig through the final opinions and/or sift through the coverage and reactions all over the Internet. For particularly amusing reactions, watch the Twitter-stream for #SCOTUS.

Enjoy!