By Jake Kaplan

Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:

It was a busy week for the Supreme Court.

  • On Monday, the Court heard oral arguments in a pair of challenges to SB8, the Texas law that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected at around six weeks of gestation. Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett appeared to be concerned about the provision of the law that deputizes private citizens to enforce it, signaling that they might join Chief Justice John Roberts and the Court’s liberal justices to reinstate the injunction that temporarily froze the law. A decision is expected soon.
  • On Wednesday, the Court heard oral argument in a challenge to a 108-year-old New York law that requires individuals to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in public. The Court’s conservative bloc indicated that it might strike down the law for a variety of reasons. Roberts was skeptical of local officials’ discretion in granting or denying licenses, while Kavanaugh pointed to the text of the Second Amendment—the right to “bear arms.” The Court is expected to issue a decision in the case in summer 2022.
  • The Court granted certiorari and consolidated four cases relating to the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse emissions. The cases have implications for the government’s ability to combat climate change as well as for Congress’s power to delegate authority to agencies. In an immigration case, the Court granted certiorari to resolve an issue relating to the Trump-era “public charge” rule that makes a person ineligible for a green card if they are deemed to be relying on government aid.

The Kyle Rittenhouse trial started this week.

  • On August 25, 2020, Rittenhouse shot and killed two men, and injured a third man, during a night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse was 17 years old at the time.
  • Rittenhouse now faces seven charges, including homicide, attempted homicide, endangering safety, and possessing a gun as a minor. He pled not guilty.
  • In opening statements on Tuesday, the prosecution and defense previewed their arguments. The prosecution portrayed Rittenhouse as the agitator who initiated the deadly confrontation. Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said, “The evidence will show that hundreds of people were out on the street experiencing chaos and violence, and the only person who killed anyone was the defendant, Kyle Rittenhouse.” 
  • Meanwhile, the defense argued that Rittenhouse acted in self defense. His lawyer Mark Richards said, “Kyle Rittenhouse protected himself, protected his firearm so it couldn’t be taken and used against him or other people,” adding that his client was attacked “in the street like an animal.”
  • Judge Bruce Schroeder is already making headlines for his decisions in the case. Schroeder ruled that prosecutors cannot refer to the people Rittenhouse shot as “victims,” because “The word ‘victim’ is a loaded, loaded word.” Instead, prosecutors can call them a “complaining witness” or a “decedent.” However, the judge will permit the defense to refer to the men Rittenhouse shot as “arsonists,” “looters,” or “rioters.”