Summer of the Supremes: 5 Big Cases

This month’s Supreme Court decisions, which feature at least five landmark cases, could lay an historic watershed before the justices end the current term for their annual summer break.

The First Amendment is being dusted off and put to the test in Elonis v. United States. The case involves a rapper who was sentenced to nearly four years in jail for posting person-specific, violence-laden content via Facebook and whether his online rant is protected by the free speech clause.

This month’s decision may also forever alter the course of the legality of the death penalty, and specifically the Eighth Amendment’s bar against ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’ Glossip v. Gross challenges the drug used for anesthetic in the botched execution of an inmate by the state of Oklahoma.

The Fifth Amendment will see an equally critical challenge to the so-called ‘takings clause’. The clause requires the federal government to justly compensate private owners for land taken under eminent domain. The Horne family is arguing the USDA’s failure to compensate them for 89,000 tons of raisins is a violation of the Constitution.

Obergefell v. Hodges is the latest challenge to same-sex marriage and the 14th Amendment. With this case, the question of whether individual states can prohibit the practice may finally be answered.

And the most heavily reported case of them all is King v. Burwell. In this case, the Supremes will decide whether Obamacare violates its own dictates by issuing subsidies for health care insurance in the states which failed to set up private exchanges.