(Bloomberg) — The US Supreme Court reshaped the legal landscape in dramatic ways in the past few months, and it may just be getting started.
When its next nine-month term begins in October, the nation’s highest court is scheduled to hear arguments on the use of race in college admissions, on the intersection of free speech and gay rights and on a challenge to an environmental permitting law.
In the blockbuster court year that ended Thursday, conservative justices used their 6-3 majority to strike down federal abortion rights, remove some limits on gun permits, curb federal regulatory power and blur the line between church and state.
“Last term saw the fewest decisions from argued cases since the Civil War, and this term isn’t on track for many more,” Shay Dvoretzky, head of the Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Group at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, said in an emailed statement. “So it’s noteworthy that these controversial issues have made the cut, suggesting eagerness among some members of the court to revisit or remake precedent in significant ways.”
The upcoming cases come for an institution that is facing waning approval and internal strife that has spilled into public view. The court is still conducting an investigation into who leaked a draft opinion of the abortion ruling in May, and justices have had to get added security as protesters picket outside some of their homes.
The court, which will include a Black woman for the first time, will consist of four members who’ve joined in the past five years. The new justices have shown they are not afraid to upend precedent — long a key feature of American law and known as “stare decisis.” Chief Justice John Roberts warned his five fellow conservatives who voted to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that such a drastic reversal could cause a “serious jolt to the legal system.”
Some liberal scholars say upcoming decisions by the court could impact underrepresented groups.
“You have a court who is looking to push the needle and looking to move the law to the right in very stark ways,” said David Gans, a civil rights lawyer at the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center.
But others argue that the court has taken a more moderate approach.
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