Louisiana Progress guide to the top 10 Supreme Court decisions of 2015

1) Lethal Injection

Case: Glossip v. Gross

Decision: The state may use midazolam, a drug used to put people into deep unconsciousness, despite it being linked to botched executions.

Effect: Prisoners being executed through lethal injection with this drug may experience the pain associated with the other drugs used during execution. However, it looks like the troubles for state use of midazolam may not be over. Read more here. 

Majority (5): Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas


2) Same-Sex Marriage

Case: Obergefell v. Hodges

Decision: States must recognize same-sex couples and give them the right to marry.

Effect: States must begin offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize their marriage in the same ways they recognize opposite-sex couples marriages. This extends to adoption rights, making healthcare choices for each other, being listed on a spouses workplace insurance policy, and a the myriad of other rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. Continue reading here.

Majority (5): Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kennedy


3) Race and Redistricting

Case:  Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama and Alabama Democratic Conference v.    Alabama

Decision: Alabama relied too heavily on race when drawing redistricting lines in 2012.

Effect: The lines of the districts may have to be redrawn to eliminate the racial gerrymandering that occurred during the 2012 redistricting.  Continue reading about the case here.

Majority (5): Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kennedy


4) Gerrymandering

Case: Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

Decision: Voters have the right to strip elected officials of the ability to redraw district lines.

Effect: The ability to conduct redistricting is taken out of the hands of individuals who may use the opportunity to help themselves, and their friends, win the next election and allows the voters to decide if they would like a non-partisan redrawing of district lines when needed. Continue reading here.

Majority (5): Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kennedy


5) Housing Discrimination

Case: Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project

Decision: Disparate impact may be used in cases regarding the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Effect: Plaintiffs can show that while a policy may not have intentionally discriminated against them that if the policy has a disparate impact on a community that said policy is in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Read more about the effect of this ruling here. 

Majority (5): Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kennedy


6) Health Care Subsidies

Case: King v. Burwell

Decision: The tax subsidy aspect of the Affordable Care Act was implemented properly.

Effect: Six million Americans will not lose the healthcare policies that they obtained using subsidies. Read more about this case here.

Majority (6): Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kennedy, Roberts


7) Religious Signs and Free Speech

Case: Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Ariz.

Decision: A town ordinance which placed different limits on political, directional, and ideological signs violates the First Amendment.

Effect: Cities may not impose content-specific rules regarding signage however, they may impose content-neutral rules. Thus, the rules should be the same for candidate signs, religious signs, ideological signs, etc. Read more here.

Majority: All nine justices agreed.


8) Pollution Limits

Case: Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency

Decision: The EPA violated the Clean Air Act by not conducting a cost-benefit analysis of new regulations aimed at limiting the emissions of mercury and other toxins into the air.

Effect: Corporations will be allowed to continue emitting toxic levels of mercury and other substances until the EPA can re-write and implement a new version of this policy. Read more here.

Majority (5): Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas


9) Employment Discrimination

Case: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores

Decision: Applicants for a job are not required to make a specific request for exceptions to a dress-code policy for religious garments.

Effect: Companies cannot require a job applicant to make a religious accommodation request for religious garments. Continue reading about the case here.

Majority (8): Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Alito


10) Confederate Flag license plates and Free Speech

Case: Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans

Decision: The state of Texas is free to reject specialty license proposals containing the Confederate flag.

Effect: While removing the Confederate flag from state-sponsored locations is not going to eliminate racism in our country it is a step that we can use to continue to eliminate race-based discrimination and white supremacy from our country. Read more here.

Majority (5): Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, Thomas