Supreme Court may rule on Trump’s immunity, abortion access and climate protections this week

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story first ran on June 2, 2024.

The Supreme Court is turning toward the final, frenzied days of its term, readying potential blockbuster decisions on abortion, guns and former President Donald Trump’s claims of absolute immunity.

The court will hand down opinions on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week as the justices aim to finish their work by the last day in June.

The decisions will land rapidly at a tense time for the 6-3 conservative-liberal court – just before a historic presidential election that has been heavily influenced by its decision two years ago to overturn Roe v. Wade. Public opinion of the court remains at record lows. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, meanwhile, has faced sharp blowback over two controversial flags raised at his homes in Virginia and New Jersey.

Here are some of the remaining cases to be decided this week.

Trump claims ‘absolute’ immunity

Trump’s appeal for immunity from special counsel Jack Smith’s election subversion charges landed at the Supreme Court late in the term and instantly overshadowed most of the docket.

Trump argued that without immunity, presidents would be hamstrung in office, always fearful of being second guessed by a zealous prosecutor after leaving the White House. That position appeared to have some purchase on the conservative Supreme Court during oral arguments in April, though it didn’t appear Trump would be able to get Smith’s case tossed entirely.

The immunity case, appears likely to come down to whether Trump’s post-election actions were “official” – that is, steps he was taking as president – or whether they were “private,” which would not likely receive immunity.

An appeals court in Washington sided against Trump.

Abortion for health in emergencies

The Supreme Court will decide what happens when pregnant women show up to the hospital with medical emergencies in states that have strict bans on abortion. An Idaho law bars doctors from performing abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk, but it makes no exception if that she would suffer long-term health consequences.

The Biden administration argues a federal law requires hospitals to perform abortions if the health of a mother is at stake, and an appeals court agreed.

The decision in Moyle v. US will place abortion access on the forefront again this summer just as Americans begin tuning into the presidential election.

January 6 rioters seek to shorten sentences

A former Pennsylvania police officer who rioted at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, challenged federal obstruction charges filed against him in a case that could also affect Trump. The former president was charged with violating the same obstruction law for different reasons.

The case was filed by Joseph Fischer, who was charged with multiple crimes for pushing his way into the Capitol after attending Trump’s rally outside the White House on January 6. Fischer’s attorney told the justices that prosecutors went too far by charging his client with “obstructing” an official proceeding, a crime he said Congress intended to be used to prohibit the destruction of evidence.

Some 350 rioters were charged with the crime, which can add up to 20 years to a prison sentence. Some of those charges have since been dropped as part of plea agreements.

Prosecutors say the charge should apply to the January 6 cases because the plain meaning of the words “obstruct” and “official proceeding” covers the attack that interrupted Congress’ counting of ballots to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 win. Critics say the law was intended to prevent evidence tampering before a trial or investigation.

Government regulation of Facebook

The Supreme Court is confronting a series of cases at the intersection of the First Amendment and social media. Perhaps the most notable are two suits challenging laws enacted in Florida and Texas aimed at stopping social media giants like Facebook and X from throttling conservative views.

The state laws ban online platforms from removing posts that express opinions, such as political content. The Republican governors who signed the laws said they were needed to keep the social media platforms from discriminating against conservatives.

Two trade associations representing the social media companies sued, claiming they violated the First Amendment. One federal appeals court in Atlanta sided with the companies and against Florida. Another, in New Orleans, allowed the Texas law to take effect. The Supreme Court paused implementation of the Texas law in 2022.

The cases are Moody v. NetChoice and NetChoice v. Paxton.

Cleaning up online ‘disinformation’

The justices must decide if the White House and federal agencies such as the FBI may urge social media platforms to take down content the government views as misinformation, or whether those efforts violate the First Amendment.

Biden officials have for years tried to persuade social media platforms to take down posts featuring misinformation about vaccines, the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 election, among other things.

Republican officials in two states – Missouri and Louisiana – and five social media users sued over that practice in 2022, arguing the administration did far more than “persuade” the tech giants to take down a few deceptive items. The case is Murthy v. Missouri.

Government regulations threatened

A series of cases this term challenge the power of federal agencies to approve regulations – or enforce them. Among the most significant are two appeals filed by Atlantic herring fishermen. The captains are challenging a Department of Commerce regulation that requires them to pay the salary of federal observers they bring on board to monitor the catch and ensure the crew follows other fishing regulations.

The court is being asked to overturn a 1984 precedent – Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council – that required courts to give deference to federal agencies when creating regulations based on an ambiguous law. Conservatives have long sought to rein in regulatory authority, arguing Washington has too much control over industry.

The justices have been incrementally diminishing federal power for years, but the new case gives the court an opportunity to take a much broader stroke.

Critics fear a ruling for the fishermen would threaten a vast swath of other federal regulations aimed at protecting the environment, public health and workplace safety. The cases are Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless v. Department of Commerce. Lower courts sided with the government in both cases.

Domestic violence gun law upheld

In a significant Second Amendment case, the justices upheld the constitutionality of a federal law that bars people who are the subject of domestic violence restraining orders from possessing guns. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the 8-1 majority.

A Texas man, Zackey Rahimi, was indicted for violating that law following a series of shootings, including one in which police said he fired into the air at a Whataburger restaurant after a friend’s credit card was declined.

Rahimi’s lawyers claimed a Supreme Court decision two years ago in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen meant the domestic violence law cannot be squared with the Constitution because it has no historical analogue. A 6-3 majority in Bruen said gun regulations must be “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

But the Supreme Court ruled that there were similar historic laws on the books at the time of the nation’s founding that allowed the government to disarm dangerous people. Justice Clarence Thomas penned a solo dissent.

Access to abortion pill maintained

In another major abortion case, the Supreme Court upheld US Food and Drug Administration efforts to expand access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

The unanimous ruling was a significant setback for the anti-abortion movement in what was the first major Supreme Court case on reproductive rights since the conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. By ruling that the anti-abortion doctors don’t have standing to sue, the court left expanded access to the drug in place.

Access to mifepristone has become particularly important after the court overturned Roe and many states banned the procedure in clinical settings. Medication abortions account for nearly two-thirds of all abortions in the US, according to some estimates.

The appeal was filed by anti-abortion doctors who said their practices have been affected because they must treat women who had complications from the drug. The FDA and outside medical groups have stressed that mifepristone is safe.

The lead medical group in the suit, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, was incorporated in Amarillo, Texas, months before it sued. The location allowed the group to choose a court where it was guaranteed to be assigned to conservative US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk. Now, the case is expected to return to Kacsmaryk’s court.

Though the decision was a win for abortion rights groups, it was not a total victory: Other groups are likely to sue over the same provisions. Three conservative states that intervened in the original lawsuit may attempt to revive it.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at