On the Docket: Looking Ahead at the New Supreme Court Term

October 4, 2021

Group Photo

An array of expert panelists predicted a highly significant and volatile new term of the U.S. Supreme Court at the annual On the Docket: Looking Ahead at the New Supreme Court Term on Zoom on Sept. 30, 2021. The Court convened on October 4 for a term that will run until late June.

The panel included: Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California at Berkeley Law School; Professor Jennifer Chacon, also from Berkeley Law; Greg Garre, former U.S. Solicitor General and appellate practice chair at Latham & Watkins; and Kimberly Atkins Stohr, Boston Globe columnist and frequent MSNBC commentator. WCL Professor and Program on Law & Government interim director Steve Wermiel served as moderator.

The annual event was organized jointly by WCL’s Program on Law & Government and the American Bar Association Division for Public Education. Catherine Hawke of ABA Public Education has collaborated on the event for a half dozen years.

The panelists discussed the major cases to be decided by the justices, including Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. 19-1392, to be argued on December 1. The case involves a Mississippi abortion law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks with rare exceptions. Mississippi and many supporting organizations and political figures have urged the Supreme Court to overrule the right to abortion recognized by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Other cases discussed included U.S. v. Tsarnaev, 20-443, being argued on October 13. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston threw out the death penalty sentence for the convicted Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and the Justice Department seeks to have it reinstated. Another major issue considered by the panelists is the scope of individual gun rights under the Second Amendment. The Court will hear arguments on November 3 in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Bruen, 20-843, which challenges the constitutionality of a New York state law that requires justification for an individual to obtain a concealed-carry permit for a gun outside the home.

Panelists agreed that these issues and immigration cases and other controversies will make this a closely-watched term to learn more about the new conservative majority on the Court.

The event included brief welcoming remarks from WCL Dean Roger Fairfax and from ABA President Reginald Turner from Detroit.