Several key cases involving controversial issues including the constitutional right to an abortion, gun control legislation and LGBT rights are scheduled to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2019 term, which opens today.
Oct. 1 is the court’s annual meeting where the justices consider the backlog of petitions that were filed while the court was on its summer break, each of which asks the court to hear a particular case.
The justices will meet in a private conference to discuss cases and vote on petitions for review. The court will release an order list at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct 7.
Today the justices will hear petitions on concerns that could impact the constitutional right to an abortion in the case of June Medical Services v. Gee, which involves a Louisiana abortion restriction. The court will also discuss New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, the first major Second Amendment case to be heard by the Supreme Court in nearly a decade — and also the first since Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement shifted the court dramatically to the right. The case centers on a recently changed New York City rule that limited where gun owners with a certain kind of permit were allowed to bring their guns. On the issue of abortion rights, for years, Kennedy held the balance on a Supreme Court divided between four staunch opponents of this right and four supporters.
His replacement, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, just months after joining the court wrote an opinion seeking to reduce abortion rights.
Roe vs. Wade does not need to be overturned directly for it to be undermined. The question is whether the court upholds laws whose real purpose is to drive up the cost of operating an abortion clinic, so that only better-funded clinics will fight to stay open.
At stake are laws that force clinics to shut down because there are no longer any doctors who can gain the credential they need to perform an abortion. Eventually, the costs will be so high that no clinic can afford to operate. Abortion will likely remain available in heavily Democratic-controlled states and prohibited in Republican-controlled states.
The court generally releases the majority of its decisions in June.