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SCOTUS to Open New Term Monday         10/01 08:19

   

   (AP) -- The Supreme Court opens its new term Monday, hearing arguments for 
the first time after a summer break and with new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. 
Already the court has said it will decide cases on a range of major issues 
including affirmative action, voting rights and the rights of LGBTQ people. The 
justices will add more cases to their docket in coming months.

   A look at some of the cases the court has already agreed to hear. The 
justices are expected to decide each of the cases before taking a summer break 
at the end of June:

   AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

   In cases from Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, the 
court could end any consideration of race in college admissions. If this seems 
familiar, it's because the high court has been asked repeatedly over the past 
20 years to end affirmative action in higher education. In previous cases from 
Michigan and Texas, the court reaffirmed the validity of considering college 
applicants' race among many factors. But this court is more conservative than 
those were.

   ___

   VOTING RIGHTS

   The court could further reduce protections for minority voters in its third 
major consideration in 10 years of the landmark Voting Rights Act, which was 
enacted to combat enduring racial discrimination in voting. The case the 
justices are hearing involves Alabama, where just one of the state's seven 
congressional districts has a Black majority. That's even though 27% of the 
state's residents are Black. A three-judge panel that included two appointees 
of President Donald Trump agreed that the state should have to create a second 
district with a Black majority, but the Supreme Court stopped any changes and 
said it would hear the case. A ruling for the state could wipe away all but the 
most obvious cases of intentional discrimination on the basis of race.

   ___

   ELECTIONS

   Republicans are asking the justices to embrace a novel legal concept that 
would limit state courts' oversight of elections for Congress. North Carolina's 
top court threw out the state's congressional map that gave Republicans a 
lopsided advantage in a closely divided state and eventually came up with a map 
that basically evenly divided the state's 14 congressional districts between 
Democrats and Republicans. The state GOP argues that state courts have no role 
to play in congressional elections, including redistricting, because the U.S. 
Constitution gives that power to state legislatures alone. Four conservative 
justices have expressed varying levels of openness to the "independent state 
legislature" theory.

   ___

   CLEAN WATER

   This is yet another case in which the court is being asked to discard an 
earlier ruling and loosen the regulation of property under the nation's chief 
law to combat water pollution. The case involves an Idaho couple who won an 
earlier high court round in their bid to build a house on property near a lake 
without getting a permit under the Clean Water Act. The outcome could change 
the rules for millions of acres of property that contain wetlands.

   ___

   IMMIGRATION

   The Biden administration is back at the Supreme Court to argue for a change 
in immigration policy from the Trump administration. It's is appealing a ruling 
against a Biden policy prioritizing deportation of people in the country 
illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk. Last term, the justices by 
a 5-4 vote paved the way for the administration to end the Trump policy that 
required asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for their court hearing. In July, 
also by a 5-4 vote, the high court refused to allow the administration to 
implement policy guidance for deportations. A Trump-era policy favored 
deporting people in the country illegally regardless of criminal history or 
community ties.

   ___

   LGBTQ RIGHTS

   A new clash involving religion, free speech and the rights of LGBTQ people 
will also be before the justices. The case involves Colorado graphic and 
website designer Lorie Smith who wants to expand her business and offer wedding 
website services. She says her Christian beliefs would lead her to decline any 
request from a same-sex couple to design a wedding website, however, and that 
puts her in conflict with a Colorado anti-discrimination law.

   The case is a new chance for the justices to confront issues the court 
skirted five years ago in a case about a baker objected to making cakes for 
same-sex weddings. The court has grown more conservative since that time.

   ___

   NATIVE AMERICAN ADOPTION

   In November, the court will review a federal law that gives Native Americans 
preference in adoptions of Native children. The case presents the most 
significant legal challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act since its 1978 
passage. The law has long been championed by Native American leaders as a means 
of preserving their families and culture. A federal appeals court in April 
upheld the law and Congress' authority to enact it. But the judges also found 
some of the law's provisions unconstitutional, including preferences for 
placing Native American children with Native adoptive families and in Native 
foster homes.

   ___

   BACON LAW BACKLASH

   Also on the menu for the justices: a California animal rights law. The case 
stems from a 2018 ballot measure where California voters barred the sale of 
pork in the state if the pig it came from or the pig's mother was raised in 
confined conditions preventing them from laying down or turning around. Two 
agricultural associations challenging the law say almost no farms satisfy those 
conditions. They say the "massive costs of complying" with the law will "fall 
almost exclusively on out-of-state farmers" and that the costs will be passed 
on to consumers nationwide.

   ___

   ART WORLD

   The court's resolution of a dispute involving pieces by artist Andy Warhol 
could have big consequences in the art world and beyond. If the Warhol side 
loses a copyright dispute involving an image Warhol made of the musician 
Prince, other artworks could be in peril, lawyers say. But the other side says 
if Warhol wins, it would be a license for other artists to blatantly copy.

 
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