Stephen Breyer will weigh these key SCOTUS cases before he retires

Stephen Breyer will weigh these key SCOTUS cases before he retires

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer only has a few months left on the bench, as he reportedly plans to retire at the end of this term, but before he steps down, the high court’s oldest judge will vote on a number of pivotal cases. 

Breyer’s finale could shape up to be one of his most impactful terms as the court prepares to issue rulings on pressing issues currently facing the nation, such as abortion access, gun ownership and free speech. 

As one of just three liberal justices left on the bench, Breyer is likely to be overruled in many of the cases but any opinions he issues could shape future rulings. 

The 83-year-old is planning to retire at the end of the current term, which is scheduled to continue until the end of June before going into recess for the summer. 

Justice Stephen Breyer
Justice Stephen Breyer will hear a number of pivotal cases before he retires from the Supreme Court.
Pool/Sipa USA

Here’s some of the biggest cases Breyer will vote on before he packs it in. 

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization 

The most significant abortion case the high court has heard in recent years, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health could ultimately overturn 1973’s Roe v. Wade, which established that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

The case centers on a Mississippi law that was passed in 2018 that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, before a fetus can survive outside of the womb.

The nine justices heard arguments on the law late last year and will have to decide whether or not a ban on abortions before viability are in violation of the constitution. 

Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization could roll back abortion rights.
Joy Asico/AP Images for the Center for Reproductive Rights

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen

Two New York men are challenging a state law that requires gun owners to prove they have a good reason to carry a firearm in public when applying for a concealed carry permit. It’s one of the most critical Second Amendment cases the court has heard in more than a decade and could have an impact on concealed carry laws across the US. 

Shurtleff v. Boston

When a Christian organization applied to have a religious flag raised outside of Boston’s City Hall, the city denied the application, prompting the group to sue, arguing the decision was a violation of their First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court will decide whether Boston violated the group’s right to free speech.

Boston City Hall
Shurtleff v. Boston could impact First Amendment rights.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

Carson v. Makin

This case centers on whether or not religious institutions can benefit from public funding. Two families sued the state of Maine in 2018 after they were denied public tuition assistance because they planned to use the money for private, Christian schools. The nine justices will examine a previous ruling related to the issue and determine if religious freedom and equal protection clauses were violated. 

United States v. Zubaydah

Brought by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, this case will shape the government’s “state secrets” privilege, which prohibits the release of information that could have an impact on national security. Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, also known as Abu Zubaydah, wants to subpoena CIA contractors but his request was squashed when the federal government told a lower court the testimony could have an impact on national security.

Abu Zubaydah
Guantanamo Bay detainee Abu Zubaydah wants to subpoena CIA contractors.
AP Photo/U.S. Central Command, File
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
The high court will decide if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence should be reinstated.

During the 2000s, Zubaydah was held in a number of CIA “black sites” where he was waterboarded and subjected to other forms of torture. The Supreme Court will decide whether or not the state secret privilege can be used in Zubaydah’s case. 

United States v. Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of two brothers responsible for the 2013 Boston marathon bombing, was originally given the death sentence for his role in the massacre but it was later converted to life without parole when a lower court found constitutional violations in his trial. The nine justices will decide if the death sentence should be reimposed, which could have an impact on future capital trials.

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