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Court releases April argument calendar

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The 2023-24 term at the Supreme Court will close out regularly scheduled oral arguments with three high-profile disputes over the interpretation of the federal criminal law that is at the center of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of former President Donald Trump, the constitutionality of an Oregon city’s law regulating camping on public property, and an Idaho law that criminalizes abortion. The court on Friday released its calendar for its April 2024 argument session, which will feature nine hours of arguments over six days, beginning on April 15 and concluding on April 24.

The justices will hear arguments on April 16 in Fischer v. United States, the case of a man who says he was only briefly inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 but was charged with (among other things) obstruction of a congressional proceeding – one of the same charges brought by Smith against Trump last year.

U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols dismissed the obstruction charge against Joseph Fischer, reasoning that the law, which was enacted in the wake of the Enron collapse, was only intended to apply to evidence tampering that obstructs an official proceeding. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reinstated the charge against Fischer, whose petition for Supreme Court review was granted earlier this year.

The justices will hear arguments on April 22 in City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, a case challenging the constitutionality of the city’s enforcement of its ban on public camping against homeless people who do not have access to shelter elsewhere. After two lower courts blocked the city from enforcing the ban, the Grants Pass asked the Supreme Court to intervene. It argues that rulings by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit have created a “judicial roadblock preventing a comprehensive response to the growth of public encampments in the West.” But the challengers, three individuals who are involuntarily homeless, counter that the rulings simply follow the Supreme Court’s decision holding that the Eighth Amendment bars the city from punishing people for their involuntary status – here, being homeless.

And on April 24, the justices will close out their April calendar with arguments in a pair of consolidated cases, Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States, involving the interaction between a federal law that requires hospitals receiving Medicare funding to offer “necessary stabilizing treatment” to pregnant women in emergencies and an Idaho law that makes it a crime to provide an abortion except in a handful of narrow circumstances, including to save the life of the mother.

The Biden administration went to federal court in Idaho in the wake of the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, arguing that the federal law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, trumps Idaho’s restrictions on abortion. A federal judge agreed and barred the state from enforcing its law to the extent that it conflicts with EMTALA, but in early January the Supreme Court put the judge’s ruling on hold and agreed to weigh in.

Here is the full schedule

Snyder v. United States (April 15) – Whether federal bribery laws make it a crime to accept payment for something a government official has already done, without any prior agreement to take those actions in exchange for payment.

Chiaverini v. City of Napoleon (April 15) – Whether a claim for malicious prosecution can proceed for a baseless criminal charge, even if there was probable cause for prosecutors to bring other criminal charges.

Fischer v. United States (April 16) – Whether a federal law that makes it a crime to “corruptly” obstruct congressional inquiries and investigations can be used to prosecute participants in the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol

Thornell v. Jones (April 17) – Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit misapplied the Supreme Court’s 1984 decision in Strickland v. Washington, which sets out the test to determine whether a lawyer’s performance was so inadequate that it violated the Constitution, in the case of death row inmate Danny Lee Jones.

City of Grants Pass v. Johnson (April 22) – Whether a city’s enforcement of laws regulating camping on public property against homeless people when they do not have access to shelter elsewhere violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Smith v. Spizzirri (April 22) – Whether Section 3 of the Federal Arbitration Act, which provides that when a court finds that a dispute should be arbitrated it “shall,” if requested by one of the parties, put the trial in the case on hold until the arbitration has finished, requires district courts to put the trial on hold or instead gives them the option to dismiss the case if all of the claims in it are subject to arbitration.

Department of State v. Munoz (April 23) – Whether the denial of a visa to the non-citizen spouse of a U.S. citizen infringes on a constitutionally protected interest of the citizen and, if so, whether the government properly justified that decision.

Starbucks Corp. v. McKinney (April 23) – Whether, when evaluating requests from the National Labor Relations Board for injunctions under Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act, which gives federal district courts that power to grant preliminary injunctive relief as they deem “just and proper,” courts should apply the traditional, stringent four-factor test or a more lenient standard.

Moyle v. United States (consolidated with Idaho v. United States) (April 24) – Whether Idaho’s law restricting doctors from providing abortions in most cases is superseded by a federal law that requires hospitals receiving Medicare funding to offer “necessary stabilizing treatment” to pregnant women in emergencies.

This article was originally published at Howe on the Court.

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Court releases April argument calendar, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 21, 2024, 9:09 AM),