The U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing cases next week with six cases scheduled for arguments in just three days of the new term that begins Oct. 1.
One of the cases is Weyerhaeuser Co. v. Fish and Wildlife Service in a legal fight over 1,500 acres in Louisiana that is habitat for the dusky gopher frog.
"But, in fact, the gopher frog cannot currently survive on this land," Elizabeth Slattery, legal fellow for The Heritage Foundation, says. "And it would require millions of dollars to transform the land into something that this frog could live on, so naturally the property owners are challenging this designation in court."
She further describes the case as an example of "governmental overreach" using the Endangered Species Act.
Another case is Knick vs. Township of Scott, where the township is battling a landowner with 80 acres over claims the property includes a cemetery that requires it to be open to the public.
"Knick disputes that there is anything remotely looking like a private cemetery on her property," explains Slattery, "but township agents stormed her property and decided otherwise when they found a couple of stones."
If the Supreme Court has only eight justices when the session begins on Monday, then it will hear these and other cases scheduled with only eight justices. A ninth justice would not weigh in on any cases in which that 9th justice did not participate.
Meanwhile, any 4-4 rulings on appeals court cases will mean the appeals court's ruling stands.
"We saw this happen with a handful of cases after Justice Scalia passed away," Slattery recalls "A great example of this was in the context of public sector unions and individuals who wanted to opt-out of those and not have their funds be taken to support the union's causes, and the Court deadlocked on a case out of California."