Five cases to watch as a conservative Supreme Court begins its new term

(The Hill) – When the Supreme Court begins its new term on Monday, the six Republican-appointed justices are expected to resume the project they began last term, reimagining U.S. constitutional law in a conservative image to design.

With many Americans still anticipating a term that eliminated state abortion laws in the Dobbs decision, expanded the Second Amendment and religious rights, and shrunk the U.S. government’s power to curb climate change, the conservative 6-3 Supreme Court ruled a set of highly voted Combustible cases that court observers believe are likely to break along ideological lines.

“In most high-profile cases other than Dobbs, we saw 6-3 decisions, with Republican-appointed judges on one side and Democrat-appointed judges on the other,” said Irv Gornstein, executive director of the Supreme Court Institute of Georgetown Law recently the previous term of office of the court.

“There is no reason to believe that this coming term, or any term for the foreseeable future, will be any different,” he said. “On the most important things, get ready for a lot of 6-3s.”

As the Conservative dominance of the Supreme Court was on full display over the last term – the culmination of a decades-long and deep effort by the Conservative Right movement – it left supporters in ecstasy.

Opponents of the various decisions had very different opinions, and the dissonance has caused the Supreme Court to hit historic lows in recent public approval and trust polls.

Debate over how the court’s rightward swing is affecting its institutional health and its relationship with Americans has even led some judges to trade thinly-veiled barbs in public comment.

As the court begins another contentious term, here are five cases to watch.


The Supreme Court’s first case of the new term concerns a major environmental dispute over the federal government’s power to protect the country’s waterways under the Clean Water Act.

The key question is whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory reach extends to wetlands that are not connected to surface federal waters but are able to reach those waters below the surface.

If the judiciary narrowly interprets government authority, it could pave the way for more land development and relax requirements for companies that emit pollutants. Conservation groups warn that such a result could harm the environment and animal habitats.

Arguments in Sackett v. EPA will be heard on October 3rd.

confirmation action

Two cases will challenge the use of race-sensitive admissions in higher education. Lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina are asking judges to end affirmative action in college admissions decisions by overriding a longstanding precedent that allows schools to consider race as a factor in assembling a student body .

The challengers, a group of Asian-American students, allege in the Harvard case that the school violated civil rights protections by engaging in racial balancing and refusing to use an available racially neutral approach to admissions.

The cases of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina will be heard by judges on October 31.

electoral law

The judges will hear a voting rights case that could give state legislatures new powers over how election schedules are made and federal elections conducted.

GOP lawmakers in North Carolina are appealing a ruling by their state’s top court that found a new Republican-drawn voting map amounted to illegal partisan Gerrymander. Republican challengers have urged the judges to rule in their favor, noting that the constitution’s electoral clause gives state legislatures near-total control over the conduct of federal elections in their state, a theory dubbed the “doctrine of independent state legislature” is known.

If the Supreme Court sides with Republican lawmakers, it could effectively shield lawmakers from scrutiny of their electoral maneuvers in state courts and remove important judicial review of legislature power.

Arguments in Moore v. Harper are not scheduled yet.

right to vote

Judges will weigh a voting rights case that tests the legal limits on alleged racial gerrymandering, in which voting cards are drawn in a way that dilutes the voting power of racial minorities.

The case arose after Alabama Republicans asked judges to block a lower court ruling that found Alabama’s new voting districts likely violated the Voting Rights Act.

The key question is whether the disparity between Alabama’s black population (27 percent) and their disproportionate representation in Congress (one in seven seats in the US House of Representatives, or 14 percent) violates the law. Arguments in Merrill v. Milligan will be heard on October 4th.

LGBTQ discrimination

The Supreme Court will hear a First Amendment dispute over a Colorado website designer’s refusal to provide her services for same-sex marriages.

The case arose when web designer Lorie Smith’s plan to ban gay marriages because of their religious beliefs collided head-on with a Colorado non-discrimination law. This law prohibits companies that serve the public from rejecting customers based on their sexual orientation or other aspects of their identity.

The case will examine whether Colorado law violates the protections of free speech by forcing people like Smith to participate in a speech they oppose.

The 303 Creative LLC vs. Elenis litigation is pending. Five cases to watch as a conservative Supreme Court begins its new term

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