Supreme Court hands down decisions on praying in public schools, crack sentencing and pill mills – but the fate of Trump-era Remain in Mexico policy still hangs in the balance with just days left in term
- The Supreme Court issued three more opinions on Monday
- It has yet to hand down a ruling on a case that could force President Biden to continue enforcing the Trump-era Remain in Mexico migration policy
- Lower courts have stopped the Biden administration from ending the protocol
- One ruling on Monday sided with an ex-high school coach, who was put on leave when the school said that his prayers violated separation church and state
- There are only days left in the term to hand down remaining four opinions
With only four more opinions left to levy, the Supreme court is gearing up for its summer break before taking up new cases at the end of September after it issued a bombshell ruling Friday that overturned abortion protections given in the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade case.
Of the remaining cases, the most immediately consequential will be the ruling on the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which is a policy that was passed and enacted under former President Donald Trump to help quell the southern border crisis.
MPP, more commonly known as the Remain in Mexico policy, was launched in 2019 and allowed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to send non-Mexican citizens who entered the U.S. illegally back to Mexico while they await their immigration proceedings.
Before this policy was enacted under Trump, migrants awaiting proceedings were either detained in the U.S. or released into the country and expected to return for their hearings, which many never did.
Lower courts have already blocked President Joe Biden from ending the policy, but the federal government appealed the case up to the Supreme Court.
It is not clear how the case will go, but with a 6-3 conservative majority and three justices nominated by Trump, many believe that the policy could be upheld.
The Supreme Court issued three more opinions on Monday but has yet to hand down a ruling on a case that could force the Biden administration to continue enforcing the Trump-era Remain in Mexico migration policy
May saw the highest number of crossings since Joe Biden took office with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountering 239,416 migrants at the border last month
Critics call MPP inhumane and say it exposes credible asylum seekers who are facing dangerous and squalid conditions in their home countries.
While the case does examine immigration law, it also questions a president’s control over these policies.
The first opinion issued Monday ruled in favor of a former Washington high school football coach who was put on leave for praying at the 50-yard line after his team’s games.
The case pits First Amendment rights to free speech against the separation of church and state, and the high court’s ruling could pave the way for fewer restrictions on religious liberty in schools.
In a 6-3 conservative line ruling sided with former coach Joseph Kennedy, who was put on leave when the school said that his prayers violated separation church and state.
Another ruling on Monday in the so-called ‘pill mill’ case puts the burden of proof on the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a doctor ‘knowingly or intentionally acted in an unauthorized manner’ when prescribing opioid painkillers.
The case comes in the midst of a nationwide opioid crisis and calls into question doctors’ ability to use their judgment to dispense a dangerous drug. Xiulu Ruan v. United States also brought questions over what action can be taken against doctors who prescribe opioids without medical justification.
Lawyers for two doctors convicted of prescribing opioids without valid medical justification appealed their convictions and sentences by saying a jury should have been able to consider whether the doctors reasonably believed that they were acting within professional boundaries.
A ruling on Monday sided with former high school coach Joseph Kennedy (in sweatshirt on right), who was put on leave when the school said that his prayers violated separation church and state. Kennedy said he would happily return to the district to coach again if he wins the case
The Supreme Court: Seated from left are Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left are Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett
The third and final ruling on Monday is a win for drug crime offenders as the court ruled 5-4 that district courts can consider intervening to reduce a sentence related to crack and cocaine-related offenses.
Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the majority opinion with fellow left-leaning Justices Steven Breyer and Elena Kagan; conservative Justices Neil Gorusch, Clarence THomas and Brett Kavanaugh. The remaining four conservatives dissented.
Other than MPP, the court is prepared to hand down the opinions in three other cases in coming days – one on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate emissions from power plants, another on federal protections for veterans returning to the workforce from service and a third on the states’ ability to prosecute non-Native citizens who commit crimes against Native Americans on reserve land.
The final case comes after a 2020 Supreme opinion written by Justice Gorsuch and joined by the liberals on the bench that held Oklahoma did not have the ability to prosecute a Native American citizen who committed a crime on reserve soil.