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

A group photo of the Supreme Court justices.

A group photo of Supreme Court justices, taken in April 2021 in Washington, DC. (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 that he should be able to express his faith in public, saying it is protected by the First Amendment under its freedom of expression 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.

Exhaust rises from a power plant in Haywood, W.Va., in 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 at the funeral service for retired police officer Aaron Salter Jr.  van Buffalo, who was killed in the May mass shooting in Buffalo, NY.

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

Amid the 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 last November, a majority of judges seemed skeptical about the law, but as SCOTUS blog 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 Governor 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? Does everyone wear on the train?

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

Abortion

Abortion rights supporters and anti-abortion activists outside the US Supreme Court.

Abortion rights supporters and anti-abortion activists outside the US Supreme Court on Tuesday. (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. In May, 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 of the people.”

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 going to decide that a woman does not have the right to choose,” he 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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