SCOTUS's New Term Starts Today

The Supreme Court begins a new term today. As the NYTimes reports, "[t]he court has agreed to hear more than 50 cases so far on disputes both familiar and fresh: from affirmative action and freedom of speech, to campaign finance and the president’s power to make recess appointments."

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION A familiar issue, but this time the question is whether a state may amend its constitution to prohibit the consideration of race or sex in public university admissions decisions.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE In one of the most closely watched cases of the term, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the court will consider the constitutionality of overall limits on how much an individual donor may give directly to federal candidates, party committees and PACs in a two-year election cycle.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND RELIGION In McCullen v. Coakley, anti-abortion protesters are challenging a Massachusetts law that sets a 35-foot “buffer zone” around health care clinics where abortions are performed.

In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the court will decide whether the First Amendment permits a prayer before a town board meeting.

ABORTION Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice deals with the constitutionality of an Oklahoma law that requires doctors to use abortion-inducing drugs precisely as the Food and Drug Administration approved them 13 years ago.

PRESIDENTIAL POWER National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning addresses issues as vast as the separation of powers and as small as the meaning of the word “the.” The case involves the president’s constitutional power to make appointments “during the recess of the Senate,” as President Obama arguably did in January 2012, when he appointed three members to the N.L.R.B. The board then ruled against a bottling company called Noel Canning in a labor dispute.

"Beyond these cases, the new term could hold other surprises. Several of last year’s biggest cases were not accepted by the court until after the term began. For instance, the justices have yet to decide whether to hear an appeal on the issue of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that the health plans of private for-profit employers cover birth control." Here's to a new term!

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