- The Supreme Court will deliver a handful of highly anticipated rulings by the end of June or early July.
- Decisions relate to abortion, firearms, religion and other important issues.
- The court’s conservative majority could dramatically change American law and life.
As a blockbuster Supreme Court term draws to a close, the justices are expected to hand down long-awaited rulings on abortion, guns and religion that could dramatically change American law — and life.
The court is expected to issue two dozen decisions by the end of June or early July before it suspends for the summer. A handful of them are high-profile disputes, poised to have dramatic implications and trigger widespread public backlash. Here are these cases followed closely.
The most important case before the highest court in the land concerns abortion. Mississippi asked judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion at the federal level nearly 50 years ago.
The draft opinion leaked last month on the case showed the Supreme Court could side with Mississippi and reject abortion rights, sending shockwaves across the country. Chief Justice John Roberts at the time noted that the draft does not represent a final decision, but court watchers say the conservative majority is likely to take this direction, which would radically reshape the law and deepen divisions policies.
At the center of the challenge is a Mississippi law that seeks to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, contradicting the standard set at Roe, which allows the procedure until around 24 weeks, otherwise known as viability. The Mississippi state law never went into effect because lower courts ruled it unconstitutional.
If the Supreme Court strikes down abortion rights, Mississippi and a host of Republican-led states would have to impose abortion restrictions as they have long sought to do, creating a messy patchwork of laws and infuriating supporters of reproductive rights.
Following a recent string of deadly mass shootings across the country, Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill are drafting legislation to strengthen gun laws after decades of stalemate. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is ruling on a landmark case that could loosen gun laws.
For more than a century, New York has required people who want a license to carry guns in public to demonstrate a “good cause” or special reason for doing so. The Supreme Court is considering whether this rule violates the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms.
During oral arguments in November, conservative justices appeared poised to strike down New York’s law as unconstitutional — an outcome that would expand Americans’ right to carry a gun in public for the first time. In addition to New York, at least seven other states, representing about 73 million people, have similar concealed carry licensing rules. If these laws fall, gun safety advocates fear that more guns will be brought into public spaces as gun violence increases across the country.
The court’s newly expanded 6-3 conservative majority showed a tendency to protect religious freedoms. In two ongoing cases, conservative justices could once again deliver victories to religious freedom advocates.
One case involves a Maine program that prohibits the use of taxpayers’ money to cover tuition at private schools that offer religious instruction. The state seeks to maintain “religiously neutral” public education, consistent with the First Amendment that the government should not promote religion.
The challengers, two Maine families, say the rule violates their First Amendment rights to freely practice their religion. A Supreme Court ruling in their favor could pave the way for state governments to use taxpayer dollars to pay for religious schools, reducing the separation of church and state and strengthening the movement of school choice widely supported by the religious right.
The other case involves a former Washington state high school football coach who lost his job for praying on the 50-yard line after games. Coach Joseph Kennedy claims the school district violated his First Amendment rights, though the school district says his conduct caused children to join in the prayers and can be seen as government endorsement of religion .
The court will also make rulings regarding climate and immigration policy in major cases that have not garnered as much national attention but have the potential to influence President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda.
In a dispute, the administration wants to end the controversial Trump-era “Stay in Mexico” policy, which forces asylum seekers at the southern border to wait in Mexico until their claims are processed.
Another case deals with the Environmental Protection Agency‘s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, raising legal questions about the agency’s powers. The court’s decision could make it difficult for the Biden administration to pursue its climate goals if it rules against the EPA.