Abortion, religion and gun rights on agenda as Supreme Court starts new term

The Supreme Court begins a new nine-month term on Monday, with major cases on abortion, religion and gun rights on the docket.

Driving the news: It will be the first in-person session with most of the justices since the pandemic forced proceedings to be held virtually last year. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who on Thursday tested positive for COVID-19 but has no symptoms, will participate remotely this week, the court said on Friday.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest cases the court will hear:

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: In one of the most-anticipated cases this term, the Supreme Court will take up Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks. The ban is a direct challenge to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide.

The justices are set to hear the case in December. The case could have major implications across the country. A dozen states have so-called trigger laws that would ban abortions entirely if Roe is overturned, per AP.

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen: In a case that could expand gun rights, the court will hear an NRA-backed challenge to New York’s restrictions on people carrying concealed handguns in public, per Reuters.

Oral arguments are expected to begin on Nov. 3.

Carson v. Makin: The court is set to weigh in on religious rights in schools in a case that challenges a Maine tuition assistance program that blocks taxpayer money from being used to pay for religious schools’ tuition, Reuters reports.

Arguments are set to start Dec. 8.

United States v. Tsarnaev: The justices will decide whether the death penalty can be reinstated for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev and his brother killed three people and wounded hundreds of others after planting bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013.Arguments will begin Oct. 13.

Federal Election Commission v. Ted Cruz for Senate: In this case, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argues that a federal rule limiting the use of post-election donations to repay candidates’ personal loans violates the First Amendment.

The FEC says that law is designed to prevent the appearance of quid pro quo corruption.Arguments are slated for early 2022, per Reuters.

What to watch: Decisions on the major cases will likely not come until at least the spring, AP notes.

Go deeper:

Clarence Thomas says Supreme Court could be “most dangerous” branchStephen Breyer says politics of potential replacement could factor into his retirementBiden blasts Supreme Court’s “unprecedented assault” on abortion rights

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