In orders released Wednesday morning by the Supreme Court, the justices granted review in 12 new cases for the fall term, including a major sequel to the D.C. v. Heller Second Amendment decision of 2008. At issue is whether the individual right to bear arms declared in Heller applies -- or is incorporated, to use the legal term -- against state, rather than just federal laws restricting that right. The case, which will likely be argued early next year, is McDonald v. Chicago, a challenge to Chicago's handgun ban. Significantly, the Court did not act on other petitions raising similar issues, including Maloney v. Rice, an incorporation case in which Justice Sonia Sotomayor ruled while on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Presumably those cases will await a ruling in the Chicago dispute.
The Court also granted the first employment law case of its new term, Lewis v. Chicago. At issue is the deadline for filing disparate impact workplace discrimination cases under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act -- should it be 300 days after the discriminatory practice is announced, or 300 days after the employer implements the practice? The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed the petition on behalf of 6,000 African-Americans who applied for positions as firefighters in Chicago. The district court found discrimination, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the claims were filed too late. Fund president John Payton said, "The Supreme Court should apply a common-sense reading of Title VII and hold that discrimination occurs each time an employer uses a selection practice that unfairly excludes qualified African American applicants for a job."
Among the other petitions the Court agreed to hear are Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project and a countersuit, Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder. These cases test the constitutionality of a law that criminalizes "material support" for groups designated as terrorist organizations. Critics of the law say it is a vague "catch-all" law that is too widely used by prosecutors, violating First Amendment free speech and Fifth Amendment due process protections.
The Court's orders released Wednesday were decided at its so-called "long conference" held Tuesday, at which the justices sift through the petitions that have piled up over the summer recess. Newly granted cases used to be announced on the Court's opening day, the first Monday in October, but in recent years, they've been announced soon after the conference the week before, presumably to give parties more time to prepare.
This article first appeared on The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.