When the Supreme Court is in session, one or two afternoons each week are reserved for closed-door conferences during which the justices discuss petitions for writs of certiorari. These petitions, in ordinary English, are requests by litigants for the Court to review cases that have been inconclusively adjudicated by lower courts. Such requests often involve high profile public controversies, and those scheduled for discussion on Tuesday fit comfortably into that category. Tomorrow, the justices will confer about Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius and Autocam v. Sebelius, all of which challenge the constitutionality of Obamacare’s contraception mandate.
That the justices will discuss these cases does not by any means guarantee that they will agree to hear any of the three. The Court has several options, as Geoffrey Surtees at the American Center for Law and Justice points out: