Abortion and guns top judges’ to-do list



Associated press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Limiting the right to abortion and expanding the right to be armed in public are long-sought goals of the conservative legal movement that the Supreme Court appears set to achieve within the next month.

Judges could also facilitate the use of public funds for religious education and limit the Biden administration’s efforts to fight climate change.

The disputes are among 30 cases the court has yet to resolve before taking an extended summer break, usually towards the end of June. It’s a big, but not unprecedented, win for the tribunal at this point in its tenure.

June is usually a tense time in court, with judges rushing to put the finishing touches on the most controversial cases. But this year the tension appears to be even greater, with a potentially historic abortion ruling and following a leaked draft notice that appears to have led to discord in the court and problems increased security.

At least one of the remaining 30 cases will go to trial on Wednesday, the court said on its website.


The court’s pace of work has been slower than usual, and it’s unclear how much of that has to do with a leaked draft opinion suggesting a conservative majority will overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade on the right to abortion and for the first time removing an individual constitutional right.

The leak occurred in early May and Judge Clarence Thomas suggested the violation of the court’s confidential notice-writing process caused serious damage to the court. “You start looking over your shoulder,” Thomas said last month at a conference in Dallas.


With three appointees from former President Donald Trump, the court now has a 6-3 conservative majority, and abortion opponents might consider something other than overturning Roe and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey who asserted the right to terminate a pregnancy a crushing defeat.

But even short of explicitly dropping abortion cases, the court is poised to significantly weaken abortion rights. At issue in the case is a Mississippi law that bans abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy, long before the court previously ruled that states can ban abortions.

Even before the draft notice leaked, the court appeared ready based on arguments in December to at least uphold Mississippi law.

Arguments in November in a case over New York’s gun license requirements also strongly suggested the court would make it easier to carry a gun in public, a decision that could affect many major cities. from the country.

It’s unclear whether a series of mass shootings in recent weeks has had any effect on the court’s deliberations, or when the decision will be made in the New York case.


Among other significant cases pending decisions is a challenge from Republican-led states and coal companies that could hamper the administration’s efforts to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. President Joe Biden has set an ambitious goal to halve emissions of the planet-warming greenhouse gases by 2030, and power plants account for about 30% of carbon dioxide production.

Judges could also rule at any time in a lawsuit over a Maine program that provides tuition assistance for private education but excludes religious schools. The ruling could make it easier for religious organizations to access taxpayer money and fuel new pressure for school choice programs in some of the 18 states that have so far not directed taxpayer money to private religious education.


The court was silent on the internal investigation which Chief Justice John Roberts ordered the day after the leak and entrusted to Gail Curley, the court marshal.

But CNN reported that Curley was seeking affidavits and cellphone records from the judges’ attorneys. Competing theories left and right suggest the funder is likely to come from the 37 clerks, four for each judge plus one for retiree Anthony Kennedy.

The court could examine government-owned cellphones and email accounts, said attorney Mark Zaid, who frequently represents government whistleblowers. But it couldn’t require employees to hand over personal devices or provide access to their own phones without a warrant, Zaid said.

But other lawyers said court clerks, many of whom will become leaders in the legal profession, should gladly speak to court investigators.

Zaid and others said clerks should speak to a lawyer before agreeing to anything.


Before COVID-19 changed things, the court announced its opinions in public sessions in the courtroom, which sometimes produced dramatic moments. In particularly watched cases, the judges of both sides would read summaries of their opinions in a duel.

But the courthouse remains closed to the public, and soon after the draft abortion notice was released, the courthouse was surrounded by an eight-foot barrier and the streets closest to the building were also sealed off. closed to vehicles.

Unless changed, opinions in abortion and firearms cases will be published online, giving the public quick access, but offering no chance to hear judges express their views.


The judges like to do their job by the end of June, although they have issued their final opinions in early July for the past two years. Summer school obligations often result in the need to get out of town. This year, it appears that only one judge has a teaching deadline. A program at George Mason University Law School in Padua, Italy announces the participation of Judge Neil Gorsuch.


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