The Supreme Court released opinions in three cases this morning, which means that there are just five decisions remaining for the term. The court has not yet announced when it will next release opinions, and it is already running historically late. As law professor Steve Vladeck has noted, the last time the justices released decisions on the merits after July 4 was 1986. On the other hand, it isn’t that surprising that the court is running a bit behind: The court held an unusual May argument session because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it has been less than two months since the arguments in, for example, the dispute over access to the president’s tax returns.
There were 10 arguments in the May argument session. Justice Brett Kavanaugh has already written two from May – U.S. Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International and today’s Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants – so he is almost certainly through for the term. Justice Elena Kagan, who had today’s opinion in Chiafalo v. Washington, is probably finished as well, as is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote last week’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com. With five decisions left (because the court resolved the Colorado “faithless elector” case with an unsigned ruling) and six justices – Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch – who have not yet written in May, it’s virtually impossible to speculate about who might be writing which of the remaining opinions. But predictions should be taken with a grain of salt in any event: For example, the conventional wisdom was that Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Justice Brett Kavanaugh would write the opinion in the Title VII cases, because none of those justices had written opinions for the court’s October session yet. But in the end it was Justice Neil Gorsuch – who had already written an opinion for October – who wrote last week’s historic decision, leaving Gorsuch with two opinions for the October sessions and his three colleagues without any.
Little Sisters of the Poor Sts. Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania (consolidated with Trump v. Pennsylvania) (argued May 6, 2020): Whether the expansion of the conscience exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s birth-control mandate violated the ACA and the laws governing federal administrative agencies.
Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru (consolidated with St. James School v. Biel) (argued May 11, 2020): Whether courts can hear employment discrimination claims brought by teachers at Catholic elementary schools.
McGirt v. Oklahoma (argued May 11, 2020): Whether land set up in the 19th century in eastern Oklahoma for the Creek Nation remains a reservation for purposes of a federal law that requires some major crimes committed on a reservation by or against Indians to be prosecuted as federal crimes.
Trump v. Mazars USA (consolidated with Trump v. Deutsche Bank) (argued May 12, 2020): Whether congressional committees have the authority to issue subpoenas to the president’s accountant and creditors for financial records belonging to the president and his business entities.
Trump v. Vance (argued May 12, 2020): Whether the Manhattan district attorney can obtain the president’s tax returns as part of a state grand-jury investigation.