Photo: Getty Images

A short-handed Supreme Court begins its new term on Monday with eight justices rather than the usual nine amid a battle to confirm President Trump's nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he faces sexual assault allegations.

The details: The court — ideologically deadlocked with four conservatives and four liberals — has not yet added any blockbuster cases to its nine-month calendar. But the 43 pending cases do have major ramifications, and a confirmation of Trump’s nominee would solidify a conservative majority and ultimately hand Republicans major wins.

The state of play: The first case up for argument Monday morning is a property rights case about protected habitat for the dusky gopher frog, an endangered amphibian. The case pits environmentalists against property-rights advocates.

  • Other disputes in the docket involve the execution of a convicted murderer who forgot his crime after suffering several strokes and an antitrust case alleging that Apple created a monopoly with its App Store.
  • One challenge would ultimately affect Trump's ability to pardon people like his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted of fraud in federal court in August. The case seeks to determine whether prosecuting someone twice — by a state and a federal court for the same crime — violates the Constitution's protection against double jeopardy. The president cannot pardon state crimes.

What's next: A slew of hot-button disputes are working their way up from lower courts and could very well reach the justices this term, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said recently at a Federalist Society event. These include:

Go deeper

Updated 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after COVID exposure puts others at risk — Mark Meadows: "We are not going to control the pandemic"— COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations.
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear themU.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. World: Italy tightens restrictions Spain declares new state of emergency.

Amy Coney Barrett's immediate impact

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In her first week on the job, Amy Coney Barrett may be deciding which votes to count in the presidential election. By her third week, she’ll be deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

Where it stands: The Senate votes on Barrett’s nomination tomorrow. If she’s confirmed, Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to swear her in at the Supreme Court within hours, an administration official tells Axios.

Texas Democrats beg Biden to spend now

Photo: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Biden campaign is rebuffing persistent pleas from Texas Democrats to spend at least $10 million in the Lone Star state, several people familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: If Texas — which has 38 electoral votes and is steadily getting more blue, but hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976 — flipped to the Biden column, it would be game over. But the RealClearPolitics polling average stubbornly hovers at +2.6 for Trump — and Team Biden appears more focused on closer targets.