The US Supreme Court returns under close scrutiny

(Washington) Abortions, Firearms, Religious Freedom …: The US Supreme Court returns on Monday with several sensitive issues that will allow us to fully appreciate the influence of the judges elected by Donald Trump.

Posted on Oct 4, 2021 at 7:16 am

Charlotte PLANTIVE Agence France-Presse

For the first time in a year and a half, the nine wise men were to meet in person for an audience in the Temple of American Law. But one of them, Brett Kavanaugh, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and will attend the exchange remotely.

This judge is one of three judges appointed by the former Republican president who has solidly strengthened the Court’s Conservative majority (six of nine judges) during his tenure.

Last year, this redesigned court guaranteed its independence, in particular by refusing to uphold Donald Trump’s crusade against the ballot box verdict.

In so-called “shadow” cases – the nickname for emergency procedures that were not publicly discussed – it began a turn to the right, which took place on 1.

The move has been scourged by Democrats, including President Joe Biden, and has rekindled calls for Supreme Court reform as a panel of experts examines options.

In a broader sense, it has led to popular disapproval: only 40% of Americans value the work of the court today, up from 49% in July, and 37% think it is “too conservative” according to a Gallup poll.

As a sign of tension, defenders of the right to abortion protested outside Brett Kavanaugh’s home and thousands of people marched outside the Supreme Court on Saturday from behind signs reading “Abortion is a personal choice, not a legal debate”.

“Band of Activists”

In order to appease the spirits, their magistrates have tried in recent weeks to convince the public of their impartiality. “This court is not made up of a bunch of political activists,” said Conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett during a speech in Kentucky.

His words, however, suffered from the presence of the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, the architect of his hasty confirmation in the middle of the presidential campaign.

Beyond the speeches, the 2021-2022 session will be “the real test to see if the court can get over party disputes,” said David Cole, legal director of the powerful human rights organization ACLU.

Indeed, on the menu are the social issues that divide America the most, starting with the right to abortion.

The Supreme Court will review a Mississippi bill on December 1 banning abortions beyond 15 weeks of gestation. The defenders of this law ask him to take the opportunity to use his emblematic 1973 judgment, Roe v. Wade, stating that women have a constitutional right to abortion.

During his 2016 campaign, “Donald Trump promised to bring judges to court who would overturn this verdict,” recently recalled Amy Howe, editor of SCOTUSblog.

“He named Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, and now it’s time to see if his promise comes true,” she added at a conference outside the Cato Institute think tank.

“Combustion”

Another hot topic: the carrying of firearms. So far, the Supreme Court has ruled that Americans have a constitutional right to own a gun for their own defense without saying anything about carrying guns outside of their home.

It could fill that void by considering a New York law that severely restricts the granting of permits.

The Court will also examine the limits of funding for denominational schools. However, today it is “very favorable to religious freedom,” notes David Cole.

Several Death Row cases are also on her menu, and she is likely to accept an appeal against university affirmative action policies, which are highly controversial among Republican ranks.

With all of these “hot topics,” says Amy Howe, “the question is not whether the Supreme Court will continue its shift to the right in this new session, but how far it will go.”

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