As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to wrap up its current term by the end of this month, justices are picking and choosing which cases will fill the docket for the upcoming fall session.
Unfortunately for some conservatives, the high court has taken a pass on some cases dealing with topics of interest — including California’s sanctuary city laws and a pair related to the Second Amendment.
According to the Washington Times, the justices did not offer any explanation for their choice to decline the sanctuary city case, though Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito expressed a desire to hear the case.
A clear divide among lower courts
The court is not required to provide a reason and it takes a minimum of four justices to agree to hear a case before it is added to the docket.
At issue in that case is a challenge to California’s SB54, a law passed in 2017 that prohibits state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to pass on the case, SB54 will be allowed to stand for now. According to NBC News, however, a split among lower appeals courts has emerged over the issue of sanctuary cities and the high court might not be able to avoid addressing it for long.
Appeals courts in the seventh and third circuits have upheld such laws in Chicago, Illinois, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Second Circuit Court, however, recently sided with the Department of Justice against northeastern states in a debate over whether the federal government could withhold grant funds from jurisdictions refusing to cooperate with immigration laws.
The Supreme Court also failed to pick up a couple of Second Amendment cases, leading to criticism from Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.
“The court simply looks the other way”
In a dissenting opinion joined by Kavanaugh, Thomas wrote that the court “would almost certainly review the constitutionality of a law requiring citizens to establish a justifiable need before exercising their free speech rights” or “to provide a justifiable need before seeking an abortion” but chose not to hear a similar complaint regarding the right to bear arms.
“But today, faced with a petition challenging just such a restriction on citizens’ Second Amendment rights, the court simply looks the other way,” Thomas wrote.
Despite the favorable ideological divide, some members of the Supreme Court’s conservative wing are disappointed in the ability to hear and decide what they believe are important cultural cases.
Many supporters of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign cite the need for a more robust conservative majority in the federal court system as a reason to cast a vote for the incumbent this November.