Supreme Court set to begin impactful term of heated cases. What you should know.

The U.S. Supreme Court will begin its next term on Monday with a slate of potentially impactful cases to decide involving religious, gun, and abortion rights.

In early December, justices are scheduled to hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization involving a challenge to a Mississippi statute that bars most abortions when “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” is 15 weeks or more. Opponents of the law say it undermines Roe v. Wade and could eventually lead to its overturning.

“There are going to be people losing their minds over this case, whichever direction it goes,” said Carrie C. Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, in an interview with The New York Times.

Beginning Nov. 3, the high court will also hear arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, a case in which justices will decide whether the Second Amendment prohibits New York from requiring its citizens who want a concealed carry permit to demonstrate they have a good reason, per state standards, for it. That ruling is expected to also impact statutes in several other Democrat-run states including California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

On Dec. 8, justices will hear arguments in Carson v. Makin to decide if Maine is constitutionally permitted to bar religious schools from participation in a state tuition assistance program.

In addition, the court will hear cases regarding President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative established under former President Barack Obama — which former President Donald Trump could not successfully revoke — and a death penalty case involving Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev.

In recent weeks, several justices have defended the court’s integrity by pushing back on claims justices are basing rulings on political ideology rather than the rule of law and the Constitution.

On Thursday, for example, Justice Samuel Alito rejected critics who claim the court “as having been captured by a dangerous cabal that resorts to sneaky and improper methods to get its ways.”

“This portrayal feeds unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court and to damage it as an independent institution,” Alito said.

Last month, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, one of Trump’s three nominees, also pushed back on similar claims at a venue in Kentucky, arguing the court is comprised of “judicial philosophies” rather than “political parties.”

“Judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties,” she said at the 30th anniversary of the opening of the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center.

She went on to describe herself as a constitutional “originalist” while offering that Justice Stephen Breyer believes in the “pragmatism” school of thought.

Coney-Barrett also said “cited a number of cases in which the nine justices on the court did not rule along ‘party lines’ — meaning each justice appointed by Republican voting together and each justice appointed by a Democrat doing the same,” the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

“The media, along with hot takes on Twitter, report the results and decisions. … That makes the decision seem results-oriented,” she explained. “It leaves the reader to judge whether the court was right or wrong, based on whether she liked the results of the decision.”

“And here’s the thing: Sometimes, I don’t like the results of my decisions,” added Barrett. “But it’s not my job to decide cases based on the outcome I want.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, another originalist, ripped the media’s characterization of the court last month after justices ruled 5-4 not to block a Texas abortion law from taking effect.

“I think the media makes it sound as though you are just always going right to your personal preference,” he said during a speech to students at the University of Notre Dame.

“So if they think you are anti-abortion or something personal, they think that’s the way you always will come out. They think you’re for this or for that. They think you become like a politician,” he added.

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Jon Dougherty

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