As SCOTUS Returns, 'Get Ready for a Lot of 6-3s'

Court has chosen to take on numerous 'hot-button issues'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2022 12:52 PM CDT
SCOTUS Has Docket Full of 'Hot-Button Issues'
Katherine Faddol, right, Rachel Hubert, and Rayna Reyst, left, hold their banners in front of the Supreme Court as it begins its new term, Monday, Oct. 3, 2022 in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has replaced Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court, but the 6-3 split between conservative and liberal justices is unchanged—and analysts say the divide will be very apparent this term. The conservative supermajority that overturned Roe v. Wade and issued numerous other controversial rulings earlier this year is expected to continue its "race to the right" as it takes up cases involving issues including affirmative action and voting rights, the New York Times reports. "On things that matter most, get ready for a lot of 6-3s," says Irv Gornstein, the executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown Law. More:

  • Cases to watch. The cases to watch as the court begins its term include a dispute over the extent of the EPA's reach over wetlands, which could open the door for the development of wetland areas, the Hill reports. Arguments in that case will be heard Monday. In the weeks and months to come, the court will also hear two cases related to affirmative action in college admissions, a case involving alleged racial gerrymandering in Alabama, and a First Amendment case involving a website designer who won't make her services available for same-sex weddings.

  • In election cases, the stakes are high. The two upcoming cases involving gerrymandering—one in Alabama and one in North Carolina—could have huge implications for the future of American elections, the Washington Post reports. The Alabama case could make it easier for "politicians to pack minorities into electoral districts." If the court agrees with North Carolina Republicans who argue that state legislatures alone have the power to run elections, it could give politicians "unilateral authority to determine how to run elections, from redistricting, to voting rules, to even how to allocate electoral votes."
  • A tense summer. Politico reports that after threats and other violent rhetoric, the justices spent the summer with unusually tight security including a 24-hour guard at their homes. Some of the justices traveled and kept their usual routines while others stayed largely out of sight. A neighbor says Chief Justice John Roberts spent "a good eight weeks" at his second home, on an island off the coast of Maine.
  • Doubling down. Polls show public faith in the neutrality of the court has been shaken, but conservative justices have still selected "a whole new slew of targets that fall squarely within Republican priorities," the Guardian reports. "The Supreme Court has chosen to take on cases this term that raise a lot of hot-button issues—just after they decided a bunch of cases that raised a lot of hot-button issues," says Tara Groves, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
(Read more Supreme Court stories.)

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