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Politics What to know about the Supreme Court and what to expect in its new term

22:45  05 october  2021
22:45  05 october  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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  Opinion: Supreme Court justices have something to prove Two justices made news in recent weeks by insisting that the law, not politics, determines how the Supreme Court rules. In the court's new term, the nine justices are due to decide whether an increasingly conservative court will stand by the precedent of Roe v. Wade, which is being challenged by state laws that aim to restrict abortion rights.Take President Joe Biden. He has been walking a tightrope, trying to please both the progressives and moderates in his party, hoping Democrats will unite to launch the biggest expansion of social spending in nearly 60 years. He risks disaster if he can't get the two sides to make a deal.

The Supreme Court began its term Monday after a summer recess in which it handed down  several high-profile rulings from its so-called "shadow docket."

The court has agreed to hear several controversial cases this term, including a Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that could overturn or undermine the landmark Roe v. Wade case that has stood as precedent and created a constitutional right to abortion for nearly 50 years.

The Supreme Court on Oct. 5, 2021. © Kevin Dietsch, Getty Images The Supreme Court on Oct. 5, 2021.

As oral arguments begin, here is a primer on the nation's highest court and what to expect in its upcoming term.

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  Supreme Court at crossroads in term with abortion and gun cases The Supreme Court begins its new term next week at a crossroads and under tremendous political scrutiny, as the expanded conservative majority takes on major cases on abortion and guns that could change American society as well as how the public views the high court’s legitimacy. Those issues will dominate commentary about the Supreme Court […] The post Supreme Court at crossroads in term with abortion and gun cases appeared first on Roll Call.

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How many justices sit on the Supreme Court?

Since the Reconstruction era, the court has had nine justices: one chief justice and eight associate justices. The size of the court is set by statute, not the Constitution, which means Congress may change the number of justices at any time.

While adding justices to tilt the court's partisan makeup was debated during the 2020 election cycle, the last serious attempt to expand the size of the court was from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937. Congress decided against the proposal and Roosevelt was widely criticized for it.

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President Joe Biden signed an executive order in April forming a commission to analyze potential structural changes to the high court, including the membership and size of the court.

What is the makeup of the Supreme Court?

The current court has a 6-3 advantage for conservatives, based on presidential nominations. The justices themselves say that partisanship does not play a role in their work.

Six justices, including the chief justice, were nominated by Republican presidents, including three named by President Donald Trump. Three justices were appointed by Democratic presidents.

More: 'Above the partisan divide'? Supreme Court begins heated new term amid slipping support

These are the justices and the president who appointed them.

  • Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by President George W. Bush
  • Associate Justice Samuel Alito, appointed by President George W. Bush
  • Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H.W. Bush
  • Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Bill Clinton
  • Associate Justice Elena Kagan, appointed by President Barack Obama
  • Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, appointed by President Barack Obama
  • Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, appointed by President Donald Trump
  • Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by President Donald Trump
  • Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, appointed by President Donald Trump
The Supreme Court is back in-person after a year of remote arguments. © Provided by USA TODAY The Supreme Court is back in-person after a year of remote arguments.

How long do Supreme Court justices serve?

The Constitution dictates that all federal judges, including justices appointed to the Supreme Court, serve for life, but they can choose to retire.

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  What's old is new again: Justices back at court for new term WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is beginning a momentous new term with a return to familiar surroundings, the mahogany and marble courtroom that the justices abandoned more than 18 months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. Abortion, guns and religion all are on the agenda for a court with a rightward tilt, including three justices appointed by President Donald Trump. The justices will meet in person for arguments Monday, although Justice Brett Kavanaugh will participate remotely from his home after testing positive for COVID-19 late last week. Kavanaugh, who was vaccinated in January, is showing no symptoms, the court said.

Thomas, appointed in 1991, is the longest-serving justice on the court. Breyer, appointed in 1993, is the longest-serving justice appointed by a Democrat. Trump’s three appointees are the newest justices on the court.

What is the religious affiliation of the Supreme Court justices?

A majority of the Supreme Court’s justices have been Catholic since Alito joined the court in 2006, according to the Associated Press. With the appointment of Barrett, Catholics hold six of the nine seats on the high court.

Five of the court’s Catholic justices were appointed by Republicans while one, Sotomayor, was appointed by a Democrat.

Breyer and Kagan are Jewish. Gorsuch was raised Catholic and now attends a Protestant church.

When does the Supreme Court term start?

By law, the court’s term starts on the first Monday in October. The term usually ends in late June.

In that time, the court hears oral arguments and delivers opinions. Justices also consider about 130 petitions a week from those appealing lower court decisions.

How many cases does the Supreme Court hear?

The court hears oral arguments in about 80 cases each term, selecting from a pool of 7,000 to 8,000 petitions, according to the court’s website. The court has considered fewer cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, handing down about 65 merits opinions in the term that ended earlier this year.

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What are the key cases for the current term?

The court will hear cases related to abortion, rights for gun owners, religion and the death penalty in the term that began Monday.

A case about Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy threatens to topple the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a constitutional right to abortion and a ruling in 1992 that governs when a state may regulate that right.

The court also has agreed to hear a challenge to New York’s gun licensing requirement for carrying a gun in public and an appeal to reinstate the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The Supreme Court is seen on the first day of the new term as activists opposed to abortion demonstrate on the plaza, in Washington, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. © J. Scott Applewhite, AP The Supreme Court is seen on the first day of the new term as activists opposed to abortion demonstrate on the plaza, in Washington, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021.

When will the Supreme Court rule on abortion?

Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 1 in the Mississippi abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

After arguments, the court generally takes about four to six months to announce its decision in a case, with factors such as the complexity of the case and the number of justices choosing to write opinions affecting the time frame. The court's biggest and most controversial cases are usually handed down during the final days of its term.

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Supreme Court correspondent John Fritze contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What to know about the Supreme Court and what to expect in its new term

Supreme Court signals willingness to allow Kentucky attorney general to defend state's abortion law .
The case comes to the high court as advocates on both sides of the abortion debate are questioning the court's commitment to its Roe v. Wade decision.Most of the justices Tuesday appeared to be leaning toward allowing Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to defend a 2018 law banning dilation and evacuation abortions, a procedure commonly performed in the second trimester of pregnancy.

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