Here’s What to Expect During the Supreme Court’s Dramatic New Term

Supreme Court New Term

These are the cases to keep an eye on.

Today, the Supreme Court is kicking off what could be its most pivotal term yet. The nine justices are set to weigh in on hot-button issues like abortion, gun rights, and religious liberty. Plus the justices’ credibility could be on the line: A recent Gallup poll showed the court’s approval rating sinking to 40%, its lowest point ever.

It’s all set take place in-person for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, though justice Brett Kavanaugh will have to participate remotely — he tested positive for Covid-19 (despite being vaccinated). This comes as President Biden’s bipartisan commission studies possible changes to the Supreme Court, and prepares to issue a report around November.

These are the top cases to keep an eye on: 

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen

In a test of New York gun laws, the court will begin hearing oral arguments on Nov. 3 on whether the Second Amendment allows for the right to carry a concealed firearm in public for “proper use” (ie: self-defense). 

The high court has avoided wading into the gun-rights debate in a major way since a pair of decisions in 2008 and 2010, which paved the way for keeping firearms in the home for self-defense.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Starting on Dec. 1, the justices will hear arguments in Mississippi’s bid to enforce a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This case marks a direct challenge to the landmark decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which affirmed that a woman’s right to an abortion without excessive government restriction is protected by the Constitution. 

Abortion rights will likely take center stage this session — ahead of the high court’s return, protestors across the U.S. marched in protest of Texas’s law, which bans abortions as early as six weeks.

Carson v. Makin

This case involves a taxpayer-funded tuition program in Maine, and is set for arguments on Dec. 8. Parents are suing over the exclusion of students from using this aid from attending religious schools. Though it’s impossible to predict which way the court will go, it’s worth noting that in recent years, religious groups have tended to fare well at the conservative majority Supreme Court. 

Other notable cases

Among the cases the justices will consider is reinstating Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence, Harvard’s use of racial affirmative action, and Biden’s continuation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) for young immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. by their parents. 

The court will also weigh in on a pair of cases testing whether the government can block the release of information it claims would potentially harm national security. All in all, these cases should make for a term that’s packed with controversy.