A preview of the Supreme Court – The New York Times

The month of June at the Supreme Court — when the judges tend to announce their most important decisions — has had a similar rhythm for decades. There is usually an ideologically complicated mix of decisions, with some favoring the political right (on voting rights and corporate regulation, for example) and others on the left (on health care and LGBT rights).

This month, however, seems to be different. “It’s quite possible that the right runs the table in the big cases,” Adam Liptak, a former attorney who covers the court for The Times, told me.

The five most watched cases each included one on abortion, gun control and climate regulation and two on religion. All five decisions are likely to be announced this month (unless the court extends the deadline to early July). In any case, based on the questions asked by the judges during the pleadings, conservative rulings seem likely.

Individual surprises are always possible, emphasizes Adam. But the court seems to be moving to the right. Over the past four years, Anthony Kennedy — a conservative judge who nevertheless joined liberals in some key decisions — has been replaced by the more conservative Brett Kavanaugh. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a liberal icon — has been replaced by Amy Coney Barrett, who is perhaps even more conservative than Kavanaugh.

The result seems to be a new era for the court. It now has six Republican appointees, and only one of them — Chief Justice John Roberts — clearly prefers a cautious approach. The remaining five make up what Adam calls “an impatient, ambitious majority” eager to shape U.S. law the way they think it should, even if it means lifting a long-standing judicial precedent or breaking policy. of Congress or the state legislature must be rejected.

Today’s newsletter offers a preview of the end of the term, with the help of Adam.

The case dominating public attention concerns the ban on most abortions in Mississippi after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Last month, Politico reported that five judges — all Republican appointees except Roberts — had voted for the time being not only to allow the Mississippi ban, but to go even further and overthrow Roe v. Wade, enabling full abortion bans.

Adam said he thought the outcome was the most likely. But it’s also likely that Roberts will join the ruling as the sixth vote, even though he didn’t sign the earlier draft. Given the intense reaction that is sure to follow, Roberts would prefer the matter not be decided by a single vote.

Alternatively, one of the other five conservatives can defect and join Roberts in a narrower statement that allows Mississippi’s ban without overturning Roe. Such a decision would have disappointed many conservatives with this term, regardless of the outcome in other cases, given the expectations Politico’s story aroused.

(Here’s The Morning’s recent guide to what a post-Roe America might look like.)

Fourteen years ago, the Supreme Court overturned a law in Washington, DC that heavily regulated how people could keep guns in their homes. Now the court is considering whether to repeal a New York state law that limits people’s ability to carry guns in public.

New York requires people to demonstrate a specific need to carry a gun in public. During recent pleadings in a case challenging that law, questions from the conservative judges suggested they were likely to overturn the law and rule it as inconsistent with the Second Amendment.

If they do, the ruling could invalidate similar laws in a handful of other states, including California, Maryland and Massachusetts.

New York law enforcement officers are concerned that the end of the law could lead to an increase in crime, explains my colleague Jonah Bromwich. “There’s also the atmospheric quirk of the court weighing gun rights at a time when the country has been traumatized by gun violence,” says Adam, referring to recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas.

A central question about the new conservative Supreme Court is how aggressively it will restrict federal agencies from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

A case by this term — West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency — suggests the judges may choose to be aggressive. The details are complex, but the result could be a ruling that limits the EPA’s ability to issue regulations that apply to multiple power plants, rather than regulate each individually.

The broader field of law here is known as administrative law, and it has been a top priority of the Federalist Society, an influential conservative group that has helped guide and vet judges. Members of the Federalist Society often argue that government agencies should not impose rules that Congress has not specifically enacted. “The view is that Congress should make the laws and not the unelected bureaucrats,” as Adam says.

Opponents say Congress cannot envision every scenario when passing laws and that regulators need the flexibility to protect citizens from harm, such as pollution.

The new court majority has already shown a strong desire to protect religious freedom. That position seems likely to manifest itself in two new decisions this month.

One has to do with a challenge to a Maine law that allows rural residents living from a distant public school to attend a private school — but not a private religious school — with taxpayer money. The other is about a former high school soccer coach near Seattle who lost his job after praying on the 50-yard line at the end of his team’s games; he argued that this was a matter of religious freedom, while the school district claimed it effectively pressured team members to participate.

When the interests of governments and religious groups clash, this court sided with the religious groups.

The court is expected to rule in about 25 other cases in the coming weeks. Many are less ideological or have a lower profile, and some are unlikely to lead to major conservative wins.

But the term after this — which begins in the fall — appears to be taking shape as another conservative term, with the court already agreeing to hear cases involving affirmative action, voting rights and a clash between religious freedom and LGBT rights. The judges may also choose to add the “800-pound gorilla” of election surveillance cases to the list, as Adam explained recently.

To celebrate the summer, Times critic Tejal Rao went in search of the best frozen treat spots in Los Angeles. She liked mangoneada (mango sorbet, sprinkled with chamoy and chili-lime salt); a twist on the Filipino dessert halo-halo; Korean shave ice; and classic balls on a cone.

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