Businesses Eye Post-Scalia Supreme Court

Date: February 22, 2016 Last Edit: March 16, 2016

Several Key Cases May Evenly Divide Court For Foreseeable Future

With the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, court observers of all political leanings and industries are closely watching the court. Scalia was renowned for having a strict interpretation of the Constitution that typically favored a conservative reading of cases. Now, there is uncertainty about a court whose eight remaining justices are evenly divided between conservative and liberal ideologies. In an article examining the possible repercussions of a court divided in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death, The Hill pointed to several pending court decisions that are key to small business owners.

In the pending case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which focuses on whether public employees who choose not to be union members must still pay union fees, NFIB Small Business Legal Center Executive Director Karen Harned said, “We are very concerned about that case.” A victory in the case had been seen as possible prior to Scalia’s passing, The Hill explained, but now with a divided court the outcome is far less clear. The Supreme Court also issued an important stay in EPA Clean Power Plan regulations just days before Scalia’s death. Scalia had been part of the five-justice majority ruling to stay power plant rules, meaning his successor is likely to be key in affecting the outcome of the ongoing legal battle involving the mandate. In a third example, there are several pending employment law cases that may now be decided with a divided Supreme Court, including CRST Van Expedited v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, set for a hearing in March.

What Happens Next

The Hill pointed out that in the event of a 4-4 decision in any upcoming Supreme Court cases, the rulings implemented by lower courts would stand, essentially rendering time and money spent on having that particular case heard before the court moot.

What This Means For Small Businesses

Small business owners can only hope that Justice Scalia’s replacement will be inclined to consider the perspectives of small businesses in making key decisions. In the meantime, the small business community is vulnerable to having several key cases decided this year in a way that doesn’t favor their interests.

Additional Reading

NFIB previously reported on the passing of Justice Scalia.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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