In a final round of orders for the Term, the Supreme Court on Thursday granted three new cases but delayed further action on one of them — an abortion rights case from Oklahoma — until after it gets answers to questions sent to that state’s Supreme Court.  After the state court responds on the scope of a new state law, the Justices will decide what it will do with an appeal by defenders of that law, although it did grant review of the case.

The Court agreed to hear, in its next Term, the cases of White v. Woodall (12-794), involving jury instructions in a death penalty case, and Paroline v. United States (12-8561), limiting the question in that second case to a newly crafted question about restitution orders in child pornography cases.

The Oklahoma case, dealing with a law that seeks to limit abortions through the use of the drug RU-486, is Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition (12-1094).  It was returned to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.  In the meantime, it will remain on the Supreme Court’s docket without action, until after the state court responds.

The Court also told lower courts to reconsider rulings in two Texas cases involving challenges to the federal Voting Rights Act — a case on the constitutionality of the state’s voter ID law and one involving a round of new redistricting laws for its delegation in Congress and members of its state legislature.  In both cases, the lower courts are to apply the Court’s decision this week in Shelby County v. Holder, striking down the coverage formula for state and local governments that must get Washington clearance for new election laws.

The Court simply declined review in two new same-sex marriage cases, each of which might have drawn the Court into the basic controversy over whether gays and lesbians have an equal right to marry — an issue the Court bypassed in its rulings on Wednesday.  The newly denied cases are from Arizona, Brewer v. Diaz (12-23), involving benefits for unmarried gays and lesbians who work for state agencies, and from Nevada, Coalition for Protection of Marriage v. Sevcik (12-689), involving a direct test of the equality issue.   The Nevada case, however, asked the Court to take on the case before the Ninth Circuit Court has ruled on it.

The Court, as usual, gave no explanation for denying review in those cases.   The Court also declined to take on eight other pending petitions on the same-sex marriage issue.  In denying five of those, the Court noted that Justice Elena Kagan had not taken part, presumably because she had some role in them in her former position as U.S. Solicitor General.

Posted in Featured, Merits Cases

Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, Court grants new cases, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 27, 2013, 9:37 AM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/06/court-grants-new-cases/