'The Most Tumultuous and Divisive Term' Since Bush v. Gore?

Supreme Court opens new term
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 5, 2020 2:21 AM CDT
SCOTUS Opens New Term
In this May 3, 2020, file photo the setting sun shines on the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Supreme Court opens a new term Monday, Oct. 5.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The Supreme Court opens a new term with Republicans on the cusp of realizing a dream 50 years in the making, a solid conservative majority that might roll back abortion rights, expand gun rights, and shrink the power of government. Eight justices are getting back to work Monday at a most unusual, politically fraught moment in American history, the AP reports. They're still mourning the death of their colleague Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leader of the court's liberal wing. They're working in the midst of a pandemic that has forced the court to drastically change the way it conducts business. And the presidential election is less than a month away. President Trump's nominee for Ginsburg's seat, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, could be on the bench in time for one of the term's biggest cases, post-Election Day arguments in the latest Republican bid to strike down the Affordable Care Act, which provides more than 20 million people with health insurance.

The court will begin the term the way it ended the last one, meeting by telephone due to COVID-19 and allowing the public to listen live to arguments. The term is so far short on high-profile cases, but that could change quickly because of the prospect of court involvement in lawsuits related to the election. Trump has said he wants Barrett in place soon so that she could be among nine justices, including his other appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who weigh in on any voting cases. High-court involvement in the election could make this “the most tumultuous and divisive term since the Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore 20 years ago and effectively determined who would become president of the United States,” said Irv Gornstein, a Georgetown University law professor. The AP takes a look at the big issues on the high court's agenda here.

(More US Supreme Court stories.)

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