Not Just Guns and Abortion: How the US Supreme Court Could Change the Rules | Court news

United States of the Supreme Court the most significant term in decades, with hit decisions on abortion, guns, religion and climate change policy, illustrates how his expanded conservative majority is willing to boldly use its power with far-reaching effects on American society.

Democratic President Joe Biden’s judicial nomination Ketanji Brown Jacksonwho was sworn in Thursday to replace retiring fellow liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, did not change the ideological balance of the six-to-three conservative court.

The majority’s persistence could continue in a number of major cases during the court’s next term, which begins in October.

Here’s what the court did in its most recent term, which ended this week, and where it’s headed.

Abortion and personal freedom

In the abortion decision of June 24, the court reversed the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalized the procedure nationwide, giving conservative activists a long-awaited victory. The court returned abortion regulation to the states.

The decision immediately led to conservative states seeking to enforce it total bans and other abortion restrictions previously blocked by lower courts.

Some conservatives would like to go further and ban abortion nationwide, either through an act of Congress or a Supreme Court decision, though it remains to be seen whether the justices will be receptive to such an approach.

Conservative justice Clarence Thomas raised alarm on the left by writing in his concurring opinion that the court should consider overturning other decades-old precedents protecting individual liberties, including gay marriage, same-sex intimacy and access to birth control. It is unclear whether other judges would agree to such a move.


In another landmark ruling expanding gun rights, the court on June 23 found that the U.S. Constitution protects an individual’s right to bear gun in public.

The ruling, which struck down New York’s restrictions on the practice as a violation of the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms,” ​​will have the biggest impact in states and localities with stricter gun control measures.

Legal scholars predict that other gun restrictions will fail, given that the ruling also declared that lower courts must in future evaluate the constitutionality of gun restrictions against those traditionally accepted in US history.

Climate change

The Supreme Court on Thursday limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in a ruling that limits the federal agency’s power.

The ruling, a blow to the Biden administration’s aggressive plan to curb carbon emissions, has wide-ranging implications because the court invoked what it called the “fundamental issues” doctrine, which says agency actions of national significance require express authorization from Congress .

Business groups challenging the regulations are now likely to raise the doctrine in litigation, while judges have the freedom to interpret what constitutes a substantive issue.


The court, in a series of recent decisions, further eroded the wall separating church and state, undermining American legal traditions designed to prevent government officials from promoting any particular religion.

In all cases, the court ruled against public officials whose policies and actions were taken to avoid violating the Constitution’s First Amendment ban on government endorsement of religion — known as the “Establishment Clause.”

That includes a June 27 ruling in favor of a public high school football coach who led prayers on the field with players after games

The court opened the door to further litigation over the extent to which public employees, including public school teachers, can express their religious views in the workplace while facilitating the participation of religious organizations in taxpayer funded programs.


Among the cases the court has already taken up for its next term are two that give the conservative bloc the chance to end the college and university policies considering race in admissions to achieve more student diversity.

Conservatives have long complained about affirmative action policies used by many colleges and universities to increase the number of black and Latino students.

The court will also hear a dispute over the legality of decades-old federal requirements that give Native American families priority to adopt Native American children, which challengers say discriminates against non-Native Americans.


The Supreme Court in recent years make it harder for courts to second-guess politicians’ actions in crafting voting rules and electoral boundaries.

The justices on Thursday agreed to hear in their next term a Republican-backed appeal from North Carolina that could give state legislatures even more power over federal elections by limiting the ability of state courts to review their actions. The case could have wide-ranging implications for the 2024 election and beyond.

Insulating legislatures from pushback from state courts or even governors could affect who wins contested elections, legal experts say. It could also make it harder to challenge voting restrictions, including those enacted by Republican lawmakers in a number of states after former President Donald Trump’s decision false statements of widespread vote fraud in his 2020 loss to Biden.

Another case the court will hear in its next term could further weaken the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed to protect black and other minority voters. The case involves a dispute over Republican-held US House districts in Alabama.

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