Important matters for the Supreme Court this term

The U.S. Supreme Court issued five new opinions on Tuesday, and 13 cases remain to be decided, including one that could overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The following advisory reports are expected to be issued on Thursday and Friday.

Here are some of the main remaining cases and the issues associated with them.

religious freedom

The judges pose for a group photo outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, April 23, 2021. (Erin Schaff/Pool via Reuters)

The judges pose for a group photo outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, April 23, 2021. (Erin Schaff/Pool via Reuters)

Judges are expected to make a decision in a case (Kennedy v. Bremerton School District) involving a former Washington state high school football coach who lost his job for praying at the 50-yard line after games.

Attorneys for the coach — Joe Kennedy — argued he should publicly express his faith, saying it’s protected by the First Amendment under its freedom of speech and exercise clauses. The school district said it has suspended Kennedy to prevent violating the Constitution’s founding clause by appearing to subscribe to a particular belief.

During pleadings in April, the judges seemed sympathetic to Kennedy

Climate change

Exhaust rises from a power plant in Haywood, WV, May 16, 2018. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Exhaust rises from a power plant in Haywood, WV, May 16, 2018. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

In a case (West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency) that could affect the Biden administration’s plan to curb carbon emissions, the court’s conservative majority appears likely to side with the Republican-controlled states and coal companies

Such a ruling could eliminate some of the key methods the Biden administration can use to accelerate the energy sector’s transition to cleaner energy sources, reducing its ability to purpose of the president to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

After pleadings in February, experts told Yahoo News that the court is almost guaranteed to side with the petitioners — a coalition of red states and coal companies — but that the as-yet-unknown logic and details of the ruling could shape the shape of U.S. climate regulation going forward.

Supreme Court decision in the case comes on the heels of a terrible new report from the United Nations which concluded that the United States and other countries are failing to deliver on their promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change.

gun rights

Family members watch at the funeral service for retired police officer Aaron Salter Jr.  from Buffalo, a security guard who was killed last month in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo.  (Jeffrey T. Barnes/Reuters)

Family members watch at the funeral service for retired police officer Aaron Salter Jr. from Buffalo, a security guard who was killed last month in a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/Reuters)

Amid renewed gun control debate after the mass shootings in Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde, Texas, the court will decide a case (New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen) regarding the constitutionality of a century-old New York law that requires anyone seeking a license to carry a concealed gun outdoors must show a “good reason,” such as a special need to defend themselves.

During pleadings in November, a majority of judges seemed skeptical about the law, but as SCOTUSblog notedtheir final ruling may be a scary one, centered on New York, while wider questions about the right to carry a gun outdoors are saved for later.

After the Buffalo massacre, New York government leader Kathy Hochul signed a comprehensive package of new measures to strengthen the state’s gun laws. But the Supreme Court decision is still looming.

“This keeps me up at night”, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said earlier this month:† “If this right to wear goes through the Supreme Court and becomes the law of the land, can you imagine being on the 4 train with someone exposing a 9mm? Everyone on the train carries?”

“It’s going to be a big mess for the police,” he added.

Abortion

Abortion rights supporters and anti-abortion activists demonstrate on Tuesday before the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.  (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Abortion rights supporters and anti-abortion activists demonstrate on Tuesday before the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

In the most expected case (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) in his term, the court must decide whether Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy is constitutional. Last month, the publication of a leaked draft opinion by Judge Samuel Alito suggested the court is about to overturn Roe v. Wade, sparking nationwide protests and demonstrations outside the judges’ homes.

“Roe was hugely wrong from the start,” Alito wrote in the draft opinion, which was published by Politico. “It is time to respect the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the elected representatives.”

President Biden said if the draft advice stands, it will be a “radical” and “fundamental” shift in the rule of law.

“I am very concerned that after 50 years we are deciding that a woman does not have the right to choose,” Biden said.

If the court were to annul Roe, tens of millions of Americans would live in states where abortion would be outright banned or severely restricted.

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