Cases to Watch in 2017 for Science and US Supreme Court


The US president has nominated Neil Gorsuch to serve in the Supreme Court. Neil is a conservative court of appeal judge and will fill the place of Justice Antonin Scalia who died. The court is split on delivering liberal and conservative justices. Nature, at the same time, relies on the science-related cases on the agenda of the court in this year. Some of the cases that seem to advance in the highest court are as follows.

  1. Biological drugs

The court will have to pair the cases under natural drugs. This patent will be substantial because these products have life and are impossible to copy. Companies that are aiming at making cheaper generic versions and biosimilars will have to proof to possess an efficient and a safe process of manufacturing an original product. After proof, the US administration of food and drugs will give them a license.

The court will have to decide these processes of manufacturing are of trade. Since FDA has taken each company’s process of production under evaluation for efficacy and safety, the ruling of the court will not bear patient care. However, this decision will impact massively on biological markets.

  1. Natural products patents

The court may decide to revisit patents being awarded for naturally made products. The supreme court made a ruling that the California-based Prometheus Laboratories could not patent the kit for measuring chemicals in the patient’s blood in 2012. In 2013, the same court made a ruling that Utah’s Myriad Genetics could not patent the gene which links to breast cancer.

These decisions took the biotechnological industry by shock because they meant that many products could not get patents. Therefore, companies have hopes that the court will avail clarity in this case.

  1. Limits of water pollution

This case will have the ability to decide whether the act of clean water will be applying to watersheds and small tributaries that contain up to 60% fresh water in the US. The intention of the law was to protect open waterways and lakes from pollution, but the Obama administration extended to more waters.

Patrick Parenteau says that it is a major rule that will lead to damaging water all over the country. The ruling of the court will affect other nine lawsuits still in the federal district courts.




  1. Endangered species

The endangered species case will also go to court for challenging. Owners of property filed a lawsuit protesting restrictions by the government against killing or harassing the Utah prairie dog, which is endangered, even when on private lands.

The fish and wildlife service has made an appeal against this lawsuit, and the decision is still pending in the court.

  1. The climate change rules

This is the most watched case that will be appearing in the court dealing with the Obama’s Clean Power Plan. It aims at regulating greenhouse emissions from power plants. Many states have gone to court demanding the EPA authority’s mandate of regulating air quality does not involve emissions from greenhouses. The fight for clean power will run for several years because the ruling of the courts might side with the EPA’s stand.