Justices add cases on housing discrimination, political contributions

JUDY WOODRUFF: The nine Supreme Court justices met today to discuss some of the cases they will consider when their fall term begins on Monday. It's expected to be another consequential term, as the court weight issues around workplace dress codes, housing discrimination, campaign contribution rules, and more.

It's also possible that the court will hear a potentially landmark case on same-sex marriage.

To walk us through it all, we are joined now, as we so often are, by Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal.

Hello, Marcia.

MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Hi, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, a busy day at the court. You were there. Tell us what happened.

MARCIA COYLE: Well, the justices today added 11 cases to the 37 they have already agreed to decide in the new term, which, as you said, opens next week.

Those 11 cases are important and interesting in a sense because they are culled from hundreds of petitions that are filed with the court during the summer months. And, as you also pointed out, there was high anticipation today that the justices might do something on seven same-sex marriage petitions from five states that are waiting. They did nothing, but that take — take nothing from that. They may act later in the term.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we did hear though about a couple of cases. One was a closely watched Arizona congressional redistricting…

MARCIA COYLE: That's right.

In 2000, Arizona voters approved an amendment to their constitution that creates an independent bipartisan commission to handle congressional redistricting, the redrawing of districts following the last census. It was an attempt to depoliticize redistricting.

The Arizona legislature has challenged that, claiming that that takes away power that's granted to them to do redistricting under the elections clause of the U.S. Constitution.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, now another case they say they are going to take up and hear arguments on comes from Florida having to do with political contributions.

MARCIA COYLE: This was very interesting. The court for a number of terms now has been deregulating money in campaigns. This involves judicial candidates.

Something like 30 states have codes of judicial conduct that include rules that bar judicial candidates from personally soliciting — solicitating — soliciting — I'm sorry — campaign contributions. A former judicial candidate has challenged that on — under First Amendment grounds, and so the justices will take a look at whether this is censoring speech that is at the core of the First Amendment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we know one of the others was Texas and it was housing discrimination.


This involves whether you can bring claims under the federal Fair Housing Act, discrimination claims, without proving intentional discrimination. That sounds odd, but intentional discrimination is very difficult to prove today, and the courts have recognized under a number of laws certain types of claims can be proven with statistics, showing that a federal rule or a regulation has a disproportionate impact on minorities.

This case involves the federal Fair Housing Act, and the justices have to decide if that type of a claim, what we call disparate impact claim, can be brought under this particular law.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I know you're going to be watching all of these cases when they come up starting next week.

MARCIA COYLE: Could be another blockbuster. We will have to wait and see.

JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. We're getting the popcorn out.

MARCIA COYLE: OK. Sounds good.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Marcia Coyle, thank you.

MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Judy.