Bowen Law School Deans Predict United States Supreme Court Caseload

Sep 25, 2018

UA Little Rock Williams H. Bowen School of Law Dean Theresa Beiner (right), and Dean Emeritus John DiPippa (left) share their predictions for which cases the United States Supreme Court will decide to hear during the 2018-2019 session.
Credit David Monteith / KUAR News

The United State Supreme Court opens its new session the first Monday in October. Monday, the current dean of the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, Theresa Beiner, and one of its former deans, John DiPippa, shared their predictions for which cases the court will agree to hear at a public lecture in Little Rock.

The "long conference" is an annual meeting of the United States Supreme Court Justices in which they decide which cases they'll hear in the upcoming session. Predicting which cases the court will agree to hear is also somewhat of an annual event for legal scholars and students, including Beiner and DiPippa. The final caseload chosen by the court represents roughly one percent of the total petitions it receives.

"The cases they get are quite literally the hardest and most controversial, and the most significant, potentially, cases in the federal system. They just don't take cases because they think the lower court was wrong. They take cases because there's an important issue to resolve that needs the Supreme Court's resolution," DiPippa said.

According to Beiner, Arkansas is directly involved in at least one of the cases being considered for the docket in the new session.

Beiner said, "Several states, including Arkansas, Kansas, and Louisiana, sought the right to cancel their agreements with Planned Parenthood. The issue in this case is of whether individuals who are Medicaid recipients actually have a right to choose their own medical provider under the language of the Medicaid Act."

Planned Parenthood receives public money to provide services such as cancer screening and birth control, but has been under attack by abortion-rights opponents. The Trump administration has made defunding the medical provider a priority.

DiPippa said cases involving gun control and the second amendment could be more likely to appear before the Supreme Court since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

"I think in the last several years the court has been reluctant to take the cases because they weren't sure where Justice Kennedy was going to fall," DiPippa said. "With a new Justice, whether it’s Judge Kavanaugh or somebody else, that calculus could change, so you're likely, I predict, although we've been wrong before, I predict at some point in the near future you're going to see second amendment cases."

While the justices decide their caseload, the embattled nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh continues with testimony scheduled for later this week, as the Trump-nominee faces sexual assault allegations.