Supreme Court passes on taking on hot issues


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

The Supreme Court passed up new opportunities Monday to take on two hot topics – partisan gerrymandering and balancing LGBT and religious rights – and also left rulings about the Trump travel ban and other big cases for coming days as it began the final week of its term.

With the conservative justices in the majority in two 5-4 decisions, the court resolved two outstanding cases – ruling in favor of Texas electoral districts that a lower court had struck down as racially discriminatory and American Express in an antitrust dispute with states over the company’s rules prohibiting merchants from steering consumers to other credit cards that charges lower fees.

The court also refused to hear an appeal from a teenager who was convicted of rape and murder, and whose story was documented in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer.”

Here’s a closer look at the some of what the Supreme Court did Monday:

SUPREME COURT PUNTS

Two cases presented the court with the opportunity to decide issues left open by recent rulings.

One was a North Carolina lawsuit over congressional districts drawn for partisan gain. The other dealt with religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws for opponents of same-sex marriage. That case was about a florist in Washington state who was found to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination law when she refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

The justices asked courts in North Carolina and Washington to review the cases in light of Supreme Court rulings in a Wisconsin districting case and a Colorado appeal from a baker who wouldn’t make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

AMERICAN EXPRESS MERCHANT FEES

American Express won its case over its rules that prevent merchants who accept its cards from encouraging consumers to use other credit cards that charge lower fees. The governments, and the court’s liberals, said American Express was restricting competition in violation of federal antitrust law. But Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the five conservative justices that far from discouraging competition, American Express’ business model “has spurred robust interbrand competition and has increased the quality and quantity of credit-card transactions.”

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