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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Supreme Court is already poised to drop some big political bombshells right into the heat of the 2020 campaign. And there are even more waiting in the wings.

Why it matters: The court will likely hand down rulings on some of the most contentious issues in American politics just a few weeks before the Democratic convention. They'll be a reminder of just how often the justices effectively have the final say — and that 2020 is a race to pick the next justices.

The court’s next term will “probably help to crystalize people’s thinking in the political season about the importance and the role of the court,” said Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society and a key adviser on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominations.

Details:

  • The justices have taken their first big Second Amendment case in over a decade — a challenge to New York City’s restrictions on transporting guns.
  • They’ll also decide whether Trump has the power to end the Obama-era immigration program known as DACA, which shields about 700,000 young adults and children from deportation.
  • And they’ll decide whether federal civil-rights law prohibits employers from firing workers because they’re gay or transgender.

There’s more on the way.

  • The justices are likely to take up an abortion case out of Louisiana.
  • Yet another challenge to the Affordable Care Act is also working its way through the system. Depending how things play out in a federal appeals court, it could land on the high court’s docket before Election Day.

Between the lines: Trump's ability to steer the court to the right, and specifically the presence of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, looms large in all of these cases.

  • New York is now trying to undo its own gun rules, hoping to scuttle the Supreme Court case rather than risk a loss that could implicate other gun laws.
  • Louisiana's abortion restrictions are highly similar to ones the court struck down in 2016 — but with then-Justice Anthony Kennedy as the decisive vote. Kennedy was also a consistent advocate for LGBT rights.

All of these cases carry major legal and political implications. The DACA case, for example, is a question about executive power. And immigration is also central to Trump's 2020 campaign, just as gun control animates Democratic candidates.

  • These rulings, at least some of which will likely come at the end of next June, would be hard for either Trump or the Democratic nominee to avoid even if they wanted to, and they may not want to.
  • Together, it all adds up to a reminder of the court's large — and growing — role in national politics.

Traditionally, conservative voters are more focused on the courts than liberals. That was evident in 2016, when the court's vacant seat helped Trump rally a base of both evangelical activists and establishment Republicans.

  • "If another vacancy emerges, you'll see another very similar kind of prioritization," Leo said.

The bottom line: If Trump is reelected and able to replace a liberal justice — or even if a Republican Senate blocks a Democratic president from filling lower-court vacancies — the judiciary could become a roadblock that stymies Democrats for generations. It's already headed that way.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that DACA includes young adults and children.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

New York AG alleges "significant evidence" of Trump Organization fraud

Combination images of former President Trump and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York's attorney general filed a motion Tuesday seeking to compel former President Trump and his two elder children to appear for sworn testimony in her office's civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Why it matters: Attorney General Letitia James revealed new details in the court filing and a statement on her office's investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, including a preliminary finding alleging the company used "fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits."

4 hours ago - Technology

Ex-N.Y. Post digital chief files lawsuit alleging sexual harassment

Richard B. Levine) (Photo by Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

Former New York Post editor Michelle Gotthelf is suing her former employer, its parent company News Corp. and two editors, alleging she was reprimanded after complaining to senior executives that she was sexually harassed by retired N.Y. Post editor-in-chief Col Allan. The N.Y. Post issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: "I felt that I owed it to myself and I owed it to the news organization and the people who answered to me," Gotthelf, who was a long time editor at the N.Y. Post, told Axios in an interview.

Updated 4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Airlines warn of flight cancellations amid 5G rollout concerns

Emirates SkyCargo airline Boeing 777F aircraft. Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Emirates and Delta airlines announced Tuesday that the planned rollout of 5G services at certain American airports could affect flights.

Driving the news: AT&T and Verizon announced earlier Tuesday that they would delay this week's scheduled rollout of 5G signals near a limited number of airports due to continued concerns from the aviation industry.