With the release of four opinions on Thursday, including one opinion from the court’s November argument session and two from its April argument session, the justices now have 14 cases left to decide before their summer recess. Thursday’s opinions also shed additional light, even if they don’t bring complete clarity, on the question of which justices may be writing which of the remaining decisions.
There are only three as-yet-undecided cases from the court’s November argument session: the two challenges to the consideration of race in college admissions, Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College, and Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., involving jurisdiction over out-of-state corporations. Three justices have not yet written opinions for November – Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh. Roberts is the most likely author for the college admissions cases, which may not garner two separate opinions. That would leave either Alito or Kavanaugh as the author of Mallory; both of them made comments at the oral argument in November suggesting that they would be likely to side with Norfolk Southern.
Three cases also remain from the court’s December argument session: United States v. Texas, the challenge to the Biden administration’s immigration-enforcement priorities; 303 Creative v. Elenis, involving the intersection between LGBTQ rights and the rights of business owners opposed to same-sex marriage; and the election-law case Moore v. Harper, in which Republican legislators are challenging the constitutionality of a state supreme court decision that set aside the state’s new congressional map. Here too there are three justices who have not yet written opinions for the month: Roberts, Kavanaugh, and Justice Neil Gorsuch. There is no way to know at this point which justices may be writing which opinion; moreover, if the justices were to dismiss Moore without reaching the merits, we may not see a majority opinion in the case.
The only cases left to decide from the court’s February argument session are two of the highest-profile cases of the term: Biden v. Nebraska and Department of Education v. Brown, the challenges to the Biden administration’s student-loan debt forgiveness program. The February session was a light one, with only six cases – one of which (Gonzalez v. Google) was unsigned. This means that six justices – Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch, and Justices Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett, and Ketanji Brown Jackson – are potentially the authors of the student-loan cases.
The court’s March argument session was the busiest session of the term, with 10 cases – which means that one justice will wind up writing twice this month. The justices have not yet decided four of those cases: the arbitration case Coinbase v. Bielski; the trademark infringement case Abitron Austria v. Hetronic; United States v. Hansen, a challenge to the constitutionality of a federal law that makes it a crime to encourage or induce unlawful immigration; and Samia v. United States, involving the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause. Three justices — Thomas, Barrett and Justice Sonia Sotomayor – have not yet written for March.
Only two cases are left from the April argument session: Groff v. DeJoy, involving the accommodations that employers must provide for their employees’ religious practices; and Counterman v. Colorado, on how courts should determine what constitutes a “true threat,” which is not protected by the First Amendment. Alito and Kagan have not yet written for April, so they are presumably writing in Groff and Counterman.