The Supreme Court on Thursday released the calendar for its February argument session, which begins on Feb. 22, 2021. Like the argument calendar for January 2021, the session is relatively light: It is slated to feature eight hours of argument over six days, but with the very real prospect that two cases will be removed from the calendar if President-elect Joe Biden changes the controversial policies at the heart of the disputes after taking office next month.
The justices scheduled oral argument in Trump v. Sierra Club, the long-running dispute over the funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall, for Feb. 22, the first day of the session. One week later, on March 1 (which is considered part of the February session), the justices are scheduled to hear oral argument in Wolf v. Innovation Law Lab, a challenge to the Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” policy, which allows the Department of Homeland Security to return immigrants seeking asylum to Mexico while they wait for an asylum hearing in U.S. immigration courts. Biden has pledged to end both construction of the wall and the “remain in Mexico” policy, although it is not clear when he will do so. Perhaps as a nod to the possibility that the oral arguments in both cases could be canceled, the two cases were both scheduled on the same day as another argument – the only two days of the argument session with two arguments.
On March 2, the justices will hear oral argument in a major voting-rights dispute from Arizona. In the two cases, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee, which have been consolidated for one hour of oral argument, the court will weigh in on the legality of an Arizona policy that requires voters to cast their ballots at the precincts to which they are assigned, as well as a challenge to a state law that bans “ballot harvesting,” which is the collection and return of mail-in ballots by a third party. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that because racial minorities disproportionately use ballot harvesting and vote outside of their precincts, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bars racial discrimination in voting, prohibits the state from eliminating those practices.
The other cases scheduled for the February argument session are:
Florida v. Georgia (Feb. 22): Long-running dispute over the apportionment of the water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.
Rosen v. Dai & Rosen v. Alcaraz-Enriquez (Feb. 23) (consolidated for one hour of oral argument): Whether a court of appeals can presume that an immigrant’s testimony is credible if an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals did not specifically find that he was not credible.
Lange v. California (Feb. 24): Whether the exception to the general warrant requirement for police who are in hot pursuit of a suspect applies when police are pursuing a suspect whom they believe committed a misdemeanor.
United States v. Arthrex, Smith & Nephew v. Arthrex & Arthrex v. Smith & Nephew (March 1) (consolidated for one hour of oral argument): Whether administrative patent judges must be appointed and confirmed by the Senate; and, if so, what the remedy should be.
Carr v. Saul & Davis v. Saul (Mar. 3) (consolidated for one hour of oral argument): Whether someone who did not challenge the legitimacy of an administrative law judge’s appointment at the Social Security Administration can raise it for the first time in federal court.
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.