Here’s what’s left for the Supreme Court on final day of this term

Jun 30, 2023, 6:30 AM | Updated: 6:43 am

FILE- Light illuminates part of the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 16, ...

FILE- Light illuminates part of the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(CNN) — Friday marks the final day of the 2022-23 Supreme Court term, and momentous cases concerning student loan payments and LGBTQ rights will be released.

The rulings could lead to fiery opinions and dissents read from the bench, and they will come as the court finds itself in the center of a spotlight usually reserved for members of the political branches due to allegations that the justices are not transparent enough when it comes to their ethics disclosures, most recently with Justice Samuel Alito last week.

Here are some of the remaining cases to be decided:

Biden’s student loan program

The Supreme Court is also considering two challenges to President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, an initiative aimed at providing targeted debt relief to millions of student-loan borrowers that has so far been stalled by legal challenges.

Republican-led states and conservatives challenging the program say it amounts to an unlawful attempt to erase an estimated $430 billion of federal student loan debt under the guise of the pandemic.

At the heart of the case is the Department of Education’s authority to forgive the loans. Several of the conservative justices have signaled in recent years that agencies – with no direct accountability to the public – have become too powerful, upsetting the separation of powers.

They have moved to cut back on the so-called administrative state.

In court, Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as some other conservatives, seemed deeply skeptical of the Biden administration’s plan.

Can businesses deny services to LGBTQ customers?

At the center of another case is a graphic designer, Lorie Smith, who seeks to expand her business and create custom websites to celebrate weddings – but does not want to work with gay couples out of religious objections to same-sex marriage.

Smith has not yet moved forward with her new business venture because of Colorado’s public accommodations law. Under the law, a business may not refuse to serve individuals because of their sexual orientation. Smith, whose company is called 303 Creative LLC, said that she is willing to work with all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, but she draws the line at creating websites that celebrate same-sex marriage because expressing such a message would be inconsistent with her beliefs.

The state and supporters of LGBTQ rights say that Smith is simply seeking a license to discriminate.

The conservatives on the court were sympathetic at oral arguments to those put forward by Smith’s lawyer. They viewed the case through the lens of free speech and suggested that an artist or someone creating a customized product could not be forced by the government to express a message that violates her religious beliefs.

Decided this week

Affirmative action in college admissions

The court on Thursday largely gutted affirmative action, saying colleges and universities can no longer take race into consideration as a specific basis for granting admission. The landmark decision overturned long-standing precedent that has benefited Black and Latino students in higher education.

Roberts wrote the opinion for the conservative majority, saying the Harvard and University of North Carolina admissions programs violated the Equal Protection Clause because they failed to offer “measurable” objectives to justify the use of race. He said the programs involve racial stereotyping and had no specific end point.

The decision was largely expected. During oral arguments, the right side of the bench appeared ready to rule against the schools. The opinion delivers a long-sought victory for opponents of affirmative action in higher education who have argued for decades that taking race into consideration – even in a limited manner – thwarts the goal of achieving a color-blind society.

Religious accommodation for postal worker

Also on Thursday, the justices revived a case brought by a former mail carrier who is an evangelical Christian who sued the US Postal Service because it failed to accommodate his request not to work on Sundays.

A lower court had ruled against the worker, Gerald Groff, holding that his request would cause an “undue burden” on the USPS and lead to low morale at the workplace when other employees had to pick up his shifts.

Rejecting the ‘Independent State Legislature’ theory

Moore v. Harper captured the nation’s attention because Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are asking the justices to adopt a long dormant legal theory and hold that state courts and other state entities have a limited role in reviewing election rules established by state legislatures when it comes to federal elections.

The doctrine – called the Independent State Legislature theory – was pushed by conservatives and supporters of Donald Trump after the 2020 presidential election.

Tuesday, a 6-3 court rejected it.

“State courts retain the authority to apply state constitutional restraints when legislatures act under the power conferred upon them by the Elections Clause,” Roberts wrote.

As a result, there is now Supreme Court precedent rejecting some of the more maximalist but unsettled theories that have been championed by John Eastman and other GOP lawyers.

But the somewhat limited ruling will leave plenty of avenues for future election-related challenges, regarding how districts are drawn, the deadlines for mail-in ballots and other key questions.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

AG sean reyes...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko,

Sean Reyes ‘deeply saddened’ by Tim Ballard allegations, won’t endorse in Senate race

Reyes is a longtime friend of Ballard and accompanied the anti-sex trafficking activist on a rescue mission in Colombia in 2014.

3 hours ago

the crash in eagle mountain...

Kate Davis

Suspect in Eagle Mountain road-rage crash that killed two due in court

Peterson Drew Matheson, the suspect in an Eagle Mountain road-rage accident will be court Friday morning. Two were killed in the accident.

3 hours ago

SALT LAKE CITY — An attorney representing a group of former employees and contractors of Operatio...

Lindsay Aerts, Larry D. Curtis

‘These allegations are true,’ say former OUR employees about Tim Ballard

An attorney representing a group wanting to make a public statement about Operation Underground Railroad read a statement Thursday morning.

24 hours ago

A Salt Lake City Police patrol car blocks the entrance to a credit union located at 769 East South ...

Mark Jones

Suspect in alleged credit union robbery arrested by SLCPD

Salt Lake City police announced Wednesday the arrest of a 41-year-old man in connection to a robbery of a credit union on Monday.

2 days ago

West Valley City police say a suspect in connection to a fatal shooting on Sept. 15 is in custody. ...

Mark Jones

Suspect in West Valley City fatal shooting in custody

A suspect wanted in connection to a Sept. 15 fatal shooting in West Valley City has been arrested, according to West Valley City police.

2 days ago

The Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) requested help identifying a suspect who appears to ha...

Derrick Jones

SLCPD seeks help identifying person who left suspicious package downtown

Police said the package was left near 20 West 200 South on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Here’s what’s left for the Supreme Court on final day of this term