Skip to content

The Supreme Court’s 2024 term is winding down. Here are five big cases that will be decided in the coming days

A number of key issues — abortion access and presidential immunity, among them — could be decided by the Supreme Court in the coming days.

The Supreme Court Building in Washington DC partially blocked by the shadow of a plant.
A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images

Editor’s note: FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine was decided on June 13, 2024. The Supreme Court ruled that the doctors opposed to the abortion pill mifepristone lacked standing.

The Supreme Court’s 2024 term is winding down. Decisions in several highly anticipated cases have already come down, but a number of key issues — abortion access, presidential immunity — could be decided in the coming days.

Northeastern Global News spoke to Dan Urman, director of the law and public policy minor at Northeastern, who teaches courses on the Supreme Court, ahead of the expected rulings. 

Here are five pending decisions with wide-reaching implications that could come down in a matter of days. 

FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine

At the very top of many court-watchers’ lists is the decision expected in the FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, which concerns access to a pill commonly used in abortion known as mifepristone. The “abortion pill,” as it’s commonly referred to, is used in up to 50% of abortions in the United States. 

A group of doctors challenged the Food and Drug Administration’s more recent approvals of mifepristone in 2016 and 2021 that expanded access to the drug by letting clinicians other than physicians prescribe it, and let patients receive the pill by mail.

Urman described the case as the first major abortion case since Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in 2022 that resulted in the overturning of Roe v. Wade — a landmark decision in 1973 that established the right to an abortion. 

“My take on it is that the justices sounded fairly skeptical of the position by the doctors, and there’s even a question of whether they have standing,” Urman says. “These are doctors challenging a drug based on the chance that they might at some point have to treat someone; so it was pretty attenuated, the connection; and generally, to have a lawsuit, there has to be a concrete, traceable injury for the party.”

“There’s a chance the court says that this doctors’ group did not have standing to file the lawsuit, which could mean that there is a future lawsuit when they try to find someone with standing,” Urman says. “It might get rid of the issue right now, but not permanently.”

Headshot of Daniel Urman.
Daniel Urman, director of hybrid and online programs in the School of Law, and director of the Law and Public Policy minor. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Moody v. NetChoice; NetChoice v. Paxton

Two relatively recent state laws — one in Florida, one in Texas — that look to dictate social media policy are being challenged by a group of tech companies. The Florida law imposed fines on companies such as Twitter/X, Facebook and YouTube for banning or otherwise censoring political candidates, while the Texas law lets citizens or the state’s attorney general sue those platforms for removing political content from their websites. 

The tech organizations, NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, argue that the tech companies have a right to decide what content is permissible on their platforms under the First Amendment. 

“The states are basically saying that social media functions more like a public square, and when tech companies are exercising control, what they are in effect doing is limiting speech,” Urman says. 

The tech advocates see it quite differently.

“The social media companies are saying that, actually, we operate more like newspapers, and we have to exercise editorial judgment — and, moreover, the states are compelling us to publish content that we don’t want to publish.”

Urman says the justices generally expressed skepticism about the state laws. 

Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo

The Supreme Court may be turning its back on the long-held principle of Chevron deference in a case involving a group of commercial fishermen. The group sued the National Marine Fisheries Service over an agency rule requiring that the fishermen allow federal observers tasked with monitoring overfishing on board their vessels. In addition, the fisheries are required to pay the salaries of those observers.

The group is asking the Supreme Court to rule on whether a 1976 law from which the federal agency drew its authority to engage in such monitoring is a proper application of Chevron deference.

A ruling in the group’s favor, which may be in the cards, may do away with the principle of deferring to agency expertise altogether, weakening federal agency power and creating more work for the judiciary, Urman says.

“I think Chevron will either be overturned or severely curtailed, and this essentially could dismantle all sorts of regulations and clog up the courts,” Urman says, “because then courts would be tasked with deciding whether an agency rule is reasonable as opposed to just letting the agency decide.”

United States v. Rahimi

A major Second Amendment case will be decided soon in United States v. Rahimi. At issue is whether individuals who are subject to domestic violence prevention orders be permitted to own guns. Urman says the case is consequential because the high court has, in recent years, relied on new standard to assess the validity of Second Amendment challenges: the “historical tradition” test.

The standard, experts and commentators note, is a predictable outgrowth of the concept of originalism, practically applied. In essence, the standard reaches back into history to try to answer questions of modern import.

“In Rahimi, the court has to confront how far they’re willing to let originalism — or text, history and tradition — drive it,” Urman says.

The theory of originalism states that a legal text or law ought to be construed through a lens that tries to ascertain its “original meaning” — that is, the meaning as understood at the time the text or law was adopted. 

But Urman says the court appears prepared to concede that when it comes to individuals with a track record of violence, restrictions on gun ownership may be acceptable. “There’s been a historical tradition of keeping dangerous people from having guns,” Urman says.

Donald Trump v. United States

In what is certainly one of the most highly anticipated decisions in U.S. history, the Supreme Court is poised to decide whether presidents are immune from prosecution for supposed acts committed while in office. The Supreme Court’s review is in response to ongoing federal prosecution of Trump for allegedly interfering in the 2020 election while still in office, including in events during and leading up to the Jan. 6 attacks.

A resolution on the question would determine whether pending cases, including two federal and one state (in Georgia), can proceed.

“It’s just nearly impossible to imagine a trial for his efforts to interfere with the lawful counting of electoral votes on January 6th before the November election — and if it started before the election, I don’t think it would finish before the election,” Urman says. “If the real goal was to delay, he has achieved that goal.” 

Decisions in all five cases are expected sometime in June.