Conservative Majority Supreme Court Taking On 5 New Controversial Cases

The Supreme Court started its new term yesterday, and all eyes are on the six conservative judges and which projects they will take on next. Some say they have taken on the task of remaking constitutional law in a more conservative image, and this new term may shed more light on that.

What's in Store

Many Americans are still reeling from the Supreme Court's decision earlier this year to eliminate federal abortion rights. They also expanded the Second Amendment and religious rights and shrank the government's power to combat climate change. Observers worry that the controversial projects they will be tackling this term will break along ideological lines.

The dissonance created by the Supreme Court's decisions last term has shown in their historic lows in recent public approval and confidence polling.

Related: Is Biden's Mental Capacity a Serious Issue?

The Environment

The Supreme Court's first new case will involve an environmental dispute over the government's power to protect waterways under the Clean Water Act. The question that the Supreme Court will be answering is whether the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory reach will be allowed to extend to wetlands not connected to federal waters aboveground.

If the judges decide to give a narrow reading to the government's authority, it has the potential to pave the way for greater land development and could also loosen requirements on businesses that discharge pollutants. Conservation groups are wary that an outcome like this risks disrupting the environment and animals' habitats.

This case is Sackett v. EPA and was heard this week.

Affirmative Action

Two cases will challenge the use of race-conscious admissions in colleges. Lawsuits have been brought against Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The goal of the lawsuits is to end affirmative action in the college admissions process by overruling a long-standing precedent that permits schools to view race as a factor when accepting new students.

The challengers are a group of Asian American students claiming Harvard violated civil rights protections by engaging in racial balancing and refusing to offer race-neutral options for admissions.

These two cases, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, will be heard on October 31st.

Related: FBI Seizes $86 Million From Safe-Deposit Boxes, “Permanently Confiscated”

Election Law

The justices are slated to hear a case on election law that could hand state legislatures new powers over how voting maps are drawn and how federal elections are conducted. Lawmakers in North Carolina are appealing a ruling handed down by their state's top court which ruled that a new Republican-drawn voting map was an illegal partisan gerrymander. Republican challengers have urged the justices to rule in their favor with a new ruling that the Constitution's Elections Clause gives state legislatures control over how federal elections are carried out in their own state. This theory is known as the “independent state legislature doctrine.”

If the Supreme Court rules in their favor, it could shield legislatures from having any electoral maneuvering reviewed in state courts, which would, in turn, remove a key judicial check on lawmaker's power.

This case, Moore v. Harper, has not yet been scheduled.

Voting Rights

The justices will be hearing a voting rights case that will test the legal limits on alleged racial gerrymandering. Racial gerrymandering involves drawing voting maps in a manner that dilutes the electoral power of racial minorities.

The case arose after Alabama Republicans asked the Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling that found Alabama's new voting districts violated the Voting Rights Act.

The question the Supreme Court will be answering is whether the mismatch between Alabama's Black population (27%) and its disproportionate representation in Congress (14%) violates the law.

The case, Merrill v. Milligan, will be heard this week.

LGBTQ Discrimination

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case regarding a First Amendment dispute. The dispute involves a Colorado website designer's refusal to make her services available for same-sex weddings.

The case came about when web designer Lorie Smith's plan to exclude gay weddings from her services due to her religious beliefs hit a wall thanks to the Colorado nondiscrimination law. The law makes it illegal for businesses that serve the public to discriminate against customers based on sexual identity or other aspects of identity.

The case will determine whether the Colorado law infringes on free speech protection by forcing people like Smith to engage in speech they oppose.

This case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, has yet to be scheduled.

More Articles From the Wealth of Geeks Network:

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.