A Pandemic Term With “Highly Charged Issues”: The U.S. Supreme Court 2020-2021


Smith. S. R. (2021). A Pandemic Term With “Highly Charged Issues”: The U.S. Supreme Court 2020-2021. Journal of Health Service Psychology, 47(4).


The 2020-2021 U.S. Supreme Court Term was expected by experts to be uninteresting, but it proved to be quite the opposite. There were surprising unanimous decisions, and some unexpectedly “highly charged issues.” Several of the decisions will be important to mental health professionals (foster care and the conflict of gay and religious rights, juvenile life sentences, and “community caretaking”), and to health care providers more generally (the Affordable Care Act, Pharmacy Benefit Managers, and COVID cases). Other decisions of general interest included immigration cases, election laws, and college athletics. Some of the most important cases arose in the “Shadow Dockets,” an often-ignored series of orders by the Court. The article discusses the most important cases of the Term (including those in the Shadow Docket), analyzes the meaning of the Term, and looks to the cases to be decided next Term.

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