A new term has opened in the Supreme Court this Monday, in what some commentators are calling an especially poignant opportunity for the conservative bloc to shift laws. Hot issues coming up include all the favorites: laws on abortion, public praying, contraception, and political campaign funding.
Assuming the judges on the right hold consensus, they could legislate on Nov. 6 whether a Christian minister can be invited by town leaders to open their meeting with a prayer addressed to Jesus Christ.
Also up for consideration is the increasing ground conservatives want to gain over their b√™te noir, abortion; questions about limiting the use of abortion pills and whether women should be required to see an ultrasound of their fetus are coming up, as well as the possibility of banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, in series of cases from Oklahoma. Along the same lines, justices will be asked whether they will restrict buffer zones around abortion agencies to 35 feet, in the case of Eleanor McCullen, a 74-year-old grandmother who wants to advise women who are entering a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Boston. Justice Anthony Kennedy is expected to make a difference in adjudicating these laws, ever since he spoke for a 5-4 majority to uphold the federal ban on ‚Äúpartial-birth abortions,‚ÄĚ saying, as the L.A. times reported, ‚Äúthe government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life.‚ÄĚ
Further considerations will explore whether religious business owners should be required to fund birth-control for their employees if they oppose it on religious grounds.
Also up for question is the case of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who is challenging the $123,000 limit donors may give to congressional candidates. He claims political spending is protected by free speech rights, but opponents claim this could lead to plutocracy, with favored candidates receiving millions from wealthy donors.
The court will consider as well whether colleges may use affirmative action in determining admissions. Two cases will be heard about ‚Äúpreferential‚ÄĚ admissions based on race.
As Irving Gornstein, executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown University‚Äôs law school said, the next term ‚Äúis actually deeper in important cases than either of the last two terms.‚ÄĚ