Five Decisions to Watch From the Supreme Court

The high court's decisions will affect the future of affirmative action, voting rights, tribal sovereignty, and marriage equality.

By Aura Bogado Jun 20, 2013

Update 6/24 @ 11:30am: The Court ruled on affirmative action today–sort of. Here’s Julianne Hing with details. 

We’re all waiting on five very important decisions from the Supreme Court. It handed down just three unrelated decisions*. That surprised many observers since the term comes to a close next week, and leaves a lot hanging in balance. The court will now hand down five controversial decisions on Monday, and possibly add one more day (likely next Thursday, but we really don’t know at the moment). Here’s a quick primer on the cases we’re looking out for:

  • Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. This is the affirmative action case.
  • Shelby County v. Holder. This is Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act case (not to be confused with another seminal voting rights case that the high court ruled on earlier this week).
  • Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. This is the case about tribal sovereignty, played out in the attempted adoption of a Cherokee baby by a white couple.
  • Hollingsworth v. Perry. This is the California Proposition 8 case, which amended the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. 
  • United States v. Windsor. This case is about Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."

Check back to get a better sense of what the future of affirmative action, voting rights, tribal sovereignty, and marriage equality looks like for the highest court in the land next week.

*Today’s US Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society decision is good news for so called developing countries, however. The federal government has long held a guideline that mandates organizations that receive funding for HIV and AIDs prevention and treatment abroad unequivocally oppose sex work and sex trafficking. The justices ruled today that that policy is in violation of the First Amendment.