By Lisa Soronen

The next U.S. Supreme Court term could be “the term of the states” (again!) with the court possibly accepting a same-sex marriage ban case and a case involving a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s subsidy. 

The Supreme Court appears headed for another "Term of States" when it convenes Oct. 6.Even though the Supreme Court’s next term won’t officially begin until Oct. 6, the court already has accepted about 40 of the 70 or so cases it will decide in the upcoming months. 

For a more detailed summary of all the cases the court has accepted so far affecting states, read the State and Local Legal Center’s Supreme Court Preview for State Governments.

Here is a quick highlight of what is on the court’s docket right now that will affect states: 

The court has accepted three tax cases. Comptroller v. Wynne involves the constitutionality of a state failing to offer residents a tax credit for all income taxes paid to another jurisdiction. Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation involves whether a diesel fuel sales tax is discriminatory against railroads in violation of the Railroad Revitalization and Regulation Reform Act (4-R). And in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl the court will decide whether a challenge to the constitutionality of Colorado’s attempt to collect more tax revenue from online purchases can be heard in federal court.  

North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC involves the question of whether elected state boards and commission can be exempted from federal antitrust law even if they aren’t actively supervised.

Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama and Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama are redistricting cases presenting claims of vote dilution and racial gerrymandering. 

The issue in Holt v. Hobbs is whether a state prison grooming policy violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act because it prohibits an inmate from growing a half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs.   

While the question presented in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association sounds academic, this case will have a practical impact on states. The issue is whether a federal agency must engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act before it can significantly alter an interpretive rule that interprets an agency regulation.   

Oneok Inc. v. Learjet, Inc. is the only preemption case the court has accepted so far. The court will decide whether the Natural Gas Act pre-empts state-law antitrust claims brought by retail natural gas purchasers. 

No Supreme Court term would be complete without one Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) case. Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk asks the straightforward question of whether the time employees spend in security screenings is compensable under the FLSA.

To date the court has only agreed to hear only one Fourth Amendment case. Heien v. North Carolina involves whether a traffic stop is permissible under the Fourth Amendment when it is based on an officer’s misunderstanding of the law.

Lisa Soronen is the executive director of the State and Local Legal Center and writes frequently for the NCSL blog about the U.S. Supreme Court.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.


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