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U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh on Feb. 5. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

This fall will present the first real test of whether a Supreme Court with two Trump appointees will deliver the change Republicans dreamed of when they stonewalled the nomination of Merrick Garland.

What's new: The Supreme Court agreed to take up a case on Louisiana's abortion law which requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in order to perform an abortion.

  • This is very similar to the Texas law the Supreme Court struck down when Anthony Kennedy was on the bench.

Why it matters: It would be highly unusual for the court to so quickly turn its back on one of its precedents, but that's what the justices would need to do to uphold Louisiana's restrictions, Axios' Sam Baker notes.

  • Brett Kavanaugh, who replaced Kennedy, "has indicated his willingness to undermine or discard the 2016 decision," NPR's Nina Totenberg reports.

Between the lines: This is a deliberate strategy, by red states as well as the conservative legal establishment, to force big abortion cases before the court and provide it the opportunity to roll back abortion rights, per Sam.

  • Alabama's near-total ban on abortion, which is still working its way through legal challenges, is the most aggressive step in that effort.

The bottom line: The decision on this Louisiana case will reexamine what qualifies as an "undue burden" on women seeking an abortion, as defined by Planned Parenthood v. Casey of 1992, Axios' Orion Rummler notes.

  • If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Louisiana's law, it could be more difficult to prove in court that state abortion restrictions are unconstitutional.

Go deeper ... Where abortion restrictions stand: The states that have passed laws

Go deeper

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders in flood-ravaged British Columbia and at least one mudslide late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed south across the border and into Canada. Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun told reporters there was "nothing to stop it," as the rising waters neared the B.C. border city.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."