The United States Supreme Court’s tenure that begins Monday is not just about abortion. It only looks that way.
The explosive issue promised to be high on the agenda even before the court let Texas start banning abortion after six weeks pregnant a month ago. The court will consider a Mississippi case that could curtail reproductive rights nationwide and even ask judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
But more broadly, Justice
Before term ends in June, judges will rule on guns, religion and federal regulation, and they could add cases on affirmative action, redistribution and president
These cases take place in a context of
“The tribunal’s legitimacy rests on its ability to show the public that a change in staff does not mean a radical change in the law” in high-profile cases, said Farah Peterson, law historian who teaches at law school from the University of Chicago. “And that’s what’s going to be at stake in this mandate.”
Here’s what’s on the court’s agenda so far for the next nine months:
Confrontation of abortion
The biggest abortion confrontation in a generation will be
The stakes have only risen since the Mississippi attorney general
“There are probably five voices to uphold the law,” said
About a dozen states have trigger bans that would take effect if Roe is rescinded, while other states are set to put in place their own sweeping restrictions, according to reproductive rights advocates. They say a ruling in favor of Mississippi would leave women in much of the South and Midwest without legal access to abortion.
The ongoing struggle over Texas law could add an important new dimension. Abortion providers are
The Supreme Court could also be called upon in the coming weeks to intervene in a Justice Department lawsuit that seeks to block Texas law and is currently pending in federal district court.
Judges will hear arguments separately on Oct. 12 in a case stemming from a Kentucky law that abortion rights advocates say would effectively ban the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The question is whether the Kentucky Attorney General
The court will hear its first major gun case in a decade on November 3, when judges will consider whether states should let most people carry handguns in public in self-defense.
The court is
Although the court said in 2008 and 2010 that the Second Amendment ensures that most people can have a handgun in the home for self-defense purposes, judges never said whether this right extends to the public arena.
As with the abortion, the decision to bring the case underscored the likely impact of Barrett, who supported gun rights as an appeals court judge. Until Barrett replaces the late judge
The court “seems ready” to say the Second Amendment extends beyond the house, said
The court has repeatedly strengthened religious rights in recent years, and it could go even further with three scheduled cases.
In the last case, that the court
The court will also decide whether Maine can exclude religious schools from a tuition assistance program used by cities that do not operate their own public schools. Religious rights defenders seek to build on a 2020
And in a
In a term that so far is light on business cases, companies will be looking at a
The case, which will be debated on November 30, concerns cuts made by the Department of Health and Human Services in reimbursement of Medicare prescription drugs to hospitals that serve low-income and underserved communities. A group led by the American Hospital Association argues that the cuts cannot be aligned with federal law.
More broadly, the case tests a legal doctrine known as Chevron Deference that has drawn criticism in conservative circles in recent years. The doctrine, which takes its name from a 1984 Supreme Court ruling, forces courts to defer to agencies on the meaning of unclear laws if regulators’ interpretation is reasonable.
The United States Chamber of Commerce is among those urging the court to restrict Chevron’s use of deference, arguing that federal agencies “are only too happy to exploit the openings to expand their own powers.”
The court will also consider an offer from the Justice Ministry to reinstate the death penalty for
A federal appeals court dismissed Tsarnaev’s sentence, saying potential jurors were not properly questioned about the media coverage they consumed before the trial. The appeals court also said the trial judge should have allowed evidence involving an earlier crime which Tsarnaev said showed he was acting under the influence of his brother.
Biden’s administration is defending the conviction even though the president has said he will work to end the federal death penalty.
Monday’s arguments will mark the
Sessions will also be the first to include live courtroom audio, something transparency groups have long sought. The court allowed live audio of his phone sessions, but it was not clear until a few weeks ago whether the practice would continue during the new term.
The arguments will be closed to the public, although about two dozen journalists who regularly cover the court will be allowed to attend.
Among the unknowns is what Thomas will do with the new argument format adopted by the court. The senior judge has spent years without asking questions in traditional courtroom oral argument. But when the court switched to telephone arguments – and judges began to take turns asking questions rather than intervening at will – Thomas surprised many observers by becoming an active participant.
Now that they are back in the courtroom, judges will use a hybrid approach, starting with open questioning and giving each lawyer one-on-one time with the litigator at the end.
“It will be a bit of a work in progress,” said
To contact the reporter on this story:
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
© 2021 Bloomberg LP All rights reserved. Used with permission.