SCOTUS Welcomes Public, New Justice 10/03 06:11
The Supreme Court is beginning its new term, welcoming the public back to
the courtroom and hearing arguments for the first time since issuing a landmark
ruling stripping away women's constitutional protections for abortion.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court is beginning its new term, welcoming
the public back to the courtroom and hearing arguments for the first time since
issuing a landmark ruling stripping away women's constitutional protections for
Monday's session also is the first time new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson,
the court's first Black female justice, will participate in arguments. And the
public is back for the first time since the court closed in March 2020 because
of the coronavirus pandemic.
The court's overturning of the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade abortion
decision is still reverberating in legal fights over state abortion bans and
other restrictions. But a new stack of high-profile cases awaits the justices.
Several cases the court has agreed to hear involve race or elections or both,
and the court has also agreed to hear a dispute that returns the issue of free
speech and LGBTQ rights to the court.
Also hanging over the justices is some unfinished business from last term:
the leak of a draft of the abortion decision seven weeks before it was formally
announced. Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation, but the court
has yet to provide an update.
Jackson, for her part, has been waiting for months to fully begin her new
role since being confirmed in April. She was sworn in when Justice Stephen
Breyer retired in June, at the end of a term where the court dominated 6-3 by
conservatives also expanded gun rights, reined in the government's ability to
fight climate change and blocked a Biden administration effort to get workers
at large companies vaccinated against COVID-19. Breyer, a liberal, was on the
losing side of those cases, and Jackson is also expected to be in dissent in
many of the court's most prominent cases.
Since she was sworn in, however, the court has largely been on a summer
break. The justices met privately last week to consider a long list of appeals
that piled up over the summer. On Friday, the justices took the bench for a
brief ceremony in which Roberts wished Jackson a "long and happy career in our
common calling," the traditional welcome for a new justice.
But Jackson also joins the court at a time of declining public support for
the court. Polls following the court's abortion decision have shown a sharp
drop in the court's approval rating and in people's confidence in the court as
an institution. A poll over the summer found 43% of Americans saying they have
hardly any confidence in the court, up from 27% earlier in the year.
On Monday, the court is considering an important water rights case that
could limit federal regulation under the nation's main water pollution law, the
Clean Water Act.
Other significant cases include a controversial Republican-led appeal that
could dramatically change the way elections for Congress and the presidency are
conducted by handing more power to state legislatures. There's also the case of
a Colorado website designer who says her religious beliefs prevent her working
with same-sex couples on their weddings. Next month, the justices will hear a
challenge to the consideration of race in college admissions.