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The Supreme Court took three big First Amendment cases. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Supreme Court this morning agreed to hear three big First Amendment cases, including a challenge to a California law that requires anti-abortion pregnancy counselors to give their patients information about how to obtain an abortion.

The big question: Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the court has upheld very few limits on free speech. These cases will be the first test of whether Justice Neil Gorsuch will change that dynamic.

The details: The court accepted three cases:

  • NIFLA v. Becerra: This suit was filed by a group of crisis pregnancy centers — organizations that counsel women against abortion. California law requires those facilities to post a notice that state-funded services, including abortion and contraception, are available. The pregnancy centers say that form of "compelled speech" violates their First Amendment rights.
  • Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky: Minnesota bans political apparel — wearing a "political badge, political button, or other political insignia" — at polling places. That includes wearing the logos of political advocacy groups. A coalition of Tea Party organizations sued, claiming that these "speech-free zones" are unconstitutional. Nine other states have similar laws on the books.
  • Lozman v. Riviera Beach: The third case granted this morning involves a man who was arrested after refusing to stop speaking at a city council meeting. He says his arrest was retaliation for his criticism of local officials.

Go deeper

Thousands of trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Axios AM Deep Dive: America’s murder surge

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.