The U.S. Supreme Court began its term Monday with major cases ahead and a 6-3 conservative majority.
This term, justices are hearing cases involving gun rights, religion and abortion.
Monday marked the first day that the justices were back in their historic courtroom after an 18-month absence caused by the pandemic. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who tested positive for COVID-19, stayed at home and worked remotely. (The justice, who is fully vaccinated, isn’t showing symptoms.)
It’s the first full term for the 6-3 majority, which now includes Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the third of President Donald Trump’s appointments to the Supreme Court. She succeeded liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
This year’s Supreme Court term comes nearly 50 years after a woman’s right to an abortion was established nationally by the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. The question now is whether the court’s rulings this term will overturn or revise that ruling or leave it entirely intact.
On Saturday, hundreds of local residents marched in Santa Barbara in support of reproductive rights for all, chatting to protest abortion restrictions.
Justices voted 5-4 in early September to permit Texas’ ban on most abortions, but they haven’t ruled on the substance of the law.
On Dec. 1, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on Mississippi’s law to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Lower courts blocked the law. They pointed to high court rulings that permit states to regulate but not outright ban abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy. That’s the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb.
In early November, gun rights will be in the spotlight. Justices will hear a challenge to New York restrictions on carrying a gun in public.
And the court will consider religious rights in education when it hears a case concerning Maine’s exclusion of religious schools from a tuition program for families who live in communities without public schools.
In addition to the cases, the court also faces the possible retirement of liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, who’s 83. If that happens, President Joe Biden will name a successor, and a simple majority could confirm the appointment in the Democratic-controlled Senate.