Oct 4, 2021 - Politics

Abortion, religion, gun rights on agenda as Supreme Court starts new term

Picture of the Supreme Court exterior

Photo: Zach Gibson/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court begins a new nine-month term on Monday, with major cases on abortion, religion and gun rights on the docket.

Driving the news: It will be the first in-person session with most of the justices since the pandemic forced proceedings to be held virtually last year. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who on Thursday tested positive for COVID-19 but has no symptoms, will participate remotely this week, the court said on Friday.

Here's a look at some of the biggest cases the court will hear:

Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization: In one of the most-anticipated cases this term, the Supreme Court will take up Mississippi's ban on most abortions after 15 weeks. The ban is a direct challenge to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide.

  • The justices are set to hear the case in December.
  • The case could have major implications across the country. A dozen states have so-called trigger laws that would ban abortions entirely if Roe is overturned, per AP.

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen: In a case that could expand gun rights, the court will hear an NRA-backed challenge to New York's restrictions on people carrying concealed handguns in public, per Reuters.

  • Oral arguments are expected to begin on Nov. 3.

Carson v. Makin: The court is set to weigh in on religious rights in schools in a case that challenges a Maine tuition assistance program that blocks taxpayer money from being used to pay for tuition at religious schools, Reuters reports.

  • Arguments are set to start Dec. 8.

United States v. Tsarnaev: The justices will decide whether the death penalty can be reinstated for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

  • Tsarnaev and his brother killed three people and wounded hundreds of others after planting bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013.
  • Arguments will begin Oct. 13.

Federal Election Commission v. Ted Cruz for Senate: In this case, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argues that a federal rule limiting the use of post-election donations to repay candidates' personal loans violates the First Amendment.

  • The FEC says that law is designed to prevent the appearance of quid pro quo corruption.
  • Arguments are slated for early 2022, per Reuters.

What to watch: Decisions on the major cases will likely not come until at least the spring, AP notes.

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