Supreme Court could add more contentious cases to busy list

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court tenure that begins next week is already full of contentious cases, including brawls over abortion and guns. But the judges still have a lot of empty space on their calendars, with four more months of arguments to fill.

As usual, hundreds of cases have piled up over the summer awaiting judges’ review. Before the new term opens on Monday, judges are expected to announce other cases they will hear.

Monday will be the first time in more than a year and a half that judges will hear cases in person rather than by phone due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some cases the court may announce it will hear in the coming months:


An abortion case already on the court’s calendar for December concerns Mississippi, which asks judges to be allowed to enforce an abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Mississippi law was enacted in 2018, but was blocked after a federal court challenge.

Other abortion cases are pending. Among the new appeals are cases from Arkansas and Missouri regarding their laws restricting abortions of fetuses with Down syndrome. Lower courts blocked those laws, but an appeals court upheld a similar law in Ohio.

Religious groups also want the court to rule on New York regulations that require health insurance plans to cover abortions. The settlement upheld by lower courts exempts some religious organizations, but groups say it is still unconstitutional.

The court could wait to act on some or all of the pending abortion cases until it resolves the Mississippi case.


A case on the court’s calendar for November concerns the right to carry a gun in public in self-defense. But gun owners also want judges to look at a New Jersey law that prohibits citizens from owning gun magazines that contain more than 10 rounds.

The group says magazines with more than 10 rounds are the norm for some of America’s most popular handguns. They want the court to say New Jersey law and similar bans in seven other states and the District of Columbia are unconstitutional.

Again, the court could wait to deal with the guns case in New York before acting on the gun store case.


A Catholic hospital is asking judges to look into transgender rights issue and overturn a lower court ruling in favor of a transgender man who wanted to have a hysterectomy. Mercy San Juan Medical Center, near Sacramento, refused to allow the procedure at its facility, saying it was “elective sterilization” that violated the hospital’s ethical and religious obligations.

The patient, Evan Minton, was operated on at another hospital. He sued under a California law that prohibits discrimination.


Judges could also vote to hear electoral law cases.

In one, residents of the District of Columbia want judges to overturn a lower court ruling that they don’t have the right to vote in the House of Representatives because they don’t live in a state.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, wants judges to hear a challenge to federal election law filed by Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

Cruz’s challenge involves rules on the reimbursement of a candidate for federal office who lends him his campaign money. By law, a campaign can reimburse the candidate up to $ 250,000 with the money collected after the election.

Cruz, a former Supreme Court clerk, loaned his campaign $ 260,000 as part of his successful 2018 re-election campaign in which he defeated Beto O’Rourke. The express purpose of the loan was to challenge the law.


Several cases considered by the court concern cases where law enforcement officials can be prosecuted for violating the constitutional rights of individuals. One of the cases involves a passenger in a vehicle that was shot down by police in Hayward, California. The driver was suspected of being intoxicated and there is a dispute as to whether the officer faced a threat when he fired the fatal shot. A federal appeals court has revived a complaint filed by the victim’s brother, and the city is asking judges to intervene.


Union opponents in Washington state are challenging a public records law that allows unions, but not the general public, to obtain contact information for home health care workers. A federal appeals court has ruled the law does not violate the Constitution, but the challengers want the court to follow through on recent rulings against the unions by dealing with their case. The contact details would make it easier for union opponents to try to persuade health care providers to stop paying union dues.


The Philadelphia area transit system is appealing a lower court ruling that would require it to display ads touting an award-winning Center for Investigative Reporting investigation into racial bias in the mortgage market. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority refused to run the ads, saying they violated its ban on political advertising. But the Philadelphia Federal Court of Appeals ruled that the policy had been applied inconsistently and ruled that the decision violated the rights of the news agency.

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