Even before the prospect of impeaching President
In its first full term with two Trump appointees, the court is planning to hear fights over gay and transgender rights, deportation protections and gun regulations. On Friday the justices added an abortion case, the first since Justice
“It will be a momentous term for the rights of individuals,” said
It will also be a challenging one for Chief Justice
The challenge could grow exponentially depending on the direction the House impeachment investigation takes. The Supreme Court could be called upon to resolve clashes over congressional subpoenas or presidential claims of executive privilege.
And if the House impeaches Trump, the Constitution requires that Roberts preside over the Senate trial, a duty that would make him the arbiter of any disputes over the governing rules.
For now, the term’s highlights include a group of cases that will affect millions of gay and transgender workers. In arguments set for Tuesday, the court will consider whether federal law bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Although the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, gay and transgender people can still be fired from their jobs in much of the country. Fewer than half of the states bar such discrimination through their own civil rights statutes.
The court will resolve the sexual orientation issue using the cases of Gerald Bostock, a
The gender-identity case involves Aimee Stephens, who was
The main federal job-bias law, known as Title VII, outlaws discrimination because of sex, as well as race, religion and a handful of other factors. It doesn’t explicitly mention sexual orientation or gender identity.
The workers and their supporters say past Supreme Court decisions have interpreted Title VII broadly. They contend that discriminatory acts against gay and transgender people are forms of sex bias.
The employers, along with the Trump administration, say lawmakers weren’t thinking about sexual orientation and gender identity when they passed Title VII as part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Although the cases might prove ideologically divisive, the focus on Title VII’s wording might mean that Roberts won’t end up as the deciding vote, according to
The best chance for the workers might be to pick off someone like Justice
“I think the way you probably get to five, if you can on this case, is to start with the left side of the court and then get a textualist who just doesn’t care what they thought in 1964 at all,” said Clement, who served as President
Obama’s DACA Program
In November the court will take up Trump’s bid to end President
Lower courts blocked Trump from rescinding the program, saying the administration’s primary explanation -- that DACA is illegal -- isn’t adequate. The Supreme Court delayed acting on Trump’s bid for a hearing for five months before
The administration starts with an advantage because it has multiple ways to win the case. Even if the court doesn’t agree that DACA is illegal, the justices could accept the reasons given in a June 2018 memo by then-Secretary of Homeland Security
“Unlike most playoff series, the government only has to win one out of seven to win this case,” said
A victory for the administration wouldn’t immediately open all 700,000 DACA recipients to deportation, but some could lose their shield by the end of next year.
Guns and Abortion
The court is scheduled to hear its first case in a decade on the reach of the Second Amendment’s protections for gun rights. The case, scheduled for argument Dec. 2, is a challenge to New York City’s strict limits on where licensed handguns can be taken.
But it’s not clear the court will ever rule. After the justices agreed to get involved, the city loosened the restrictions, and officials now are
“If the court reaches the merits here it seems likely that it will hold that the former restrictions were unconstitutional,” said
The abortion case
The court’s new composition means it could overturn the 2016 ruling, or at least limit its impact to the particular circumstances of Texas. And the case promises to give the clearest picture yet of whether Roberts and the reconstituted court will move quickly to roll back abortion rights. Opponents of the law say it would leave Louisiana with only one clinic.
Puerto Rico and the Appalachian Trail
Other cases on the court’s docket include:
clashthat could upend the work of the oversight board charged with pulling Puerto Rico out of its record bankruptcy. The justices will hear arguments Oct. 15 on a lower court ruling that said the Financial Oversight and Management Board’s members were appointed in violation of the Constitution.
- A church-state
fightover a Montana tax-credit program that generates scholarship money for students who attend private schools. The Montana Supreme Court struck down the program as violating a state constitutional provision that bars aid to religious schools. Three parents who want to use the tax credits at Christian schools say that ruling violates the Constitution.
- A new clash over
Dominion Energy Inc.’s proposed $7.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The court saidFriday it will rule on a key permit that would let the natural-gas line cross under the Appalachian Trail.
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