By Ian Millhiser
The Supreme Court heard this term’s final day of oral arguments on Wednesday, a day that included a truly ghoulish debate over how states can execute death row inmates. By the first days of July, the justices will depart for their summer vacations. In the weeks in between, they could gut much of the nation’s civil rights law. They could cast many states’ election law into chaos. They could inflame our relations in the Middle East. And they could sentence thousands of Americans to die preventable deaths every year.
Here are major cases the justices are expected to decide by the end of June:
Race Discrimination And Housing
Probably the most undercovered major case this term is Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, a case that could hobble the nation’s ability to combat housing discrimination.
Such discrimination is often very difficult to root out, which is why it persists in the housing sector. A study on behalf of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, found that black and Asian homeseekers are shown or told about 15 to 19 percent fewer homes than whites who have similar credit or housing interests. Similarly, the Federal Reserve determined in 2009 that African Americans are twice as likely as white borrowers to be denied a home loan even when controlling for income and similar criteria. Yet discrimination persists in part because it is difficult to prove in court — banks typically do not produce smoking gun documents announcing that they prefer not to lend money to black people, for example.