The Supreme Court: Four Cases To Watch
Conservative chief justice John Roberts shocked many when he joined with the liberals on the bench to uphold Barack Obama’s contentious health care law last June before the Supreme Court retired for the summer.
None of the decisions for the court’s 2012-13 docket should end as surprisingly, Politico reported. Roberts will most likely return to his traditional voting patterns and Republican centrist justice Anthony Kennedy will resume being the crucial swing-voter when the court resumes Monday.
However, the cases themselves will be contentious. The court is expected to rule on everything from voting rights to gay marriage.
Here are four cases to watch when the Supreme Court returns:
In (Fisher v. University of Texas) the University of Texas is being challenged for using race to help determine its incoming freshman classes. Currently, the university accepts the top 10 percent of students from all Texas high schools, including those dominated by African Americans and Hispanics, The university also includes race as a factor in accepting students outside of the those in the top 10 percent in order achieve diversity at the university. The case which comes before the court on Oct. 10 could further limit or even end the use of racial preferences in college admissions, Fox News reported.
When it comes to gay marriage, there are two separate questions that the court could choose to review this session.
The first question examines what rights legally married gay couples have. The key section in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") bars the federal government to recognize same-sex spouses for any federal purpose. Several judges have struck down that part of DOMA and ruled that the federal government may not deny equal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
Justices are expected to look at this case before deciding whether to review California's Proposition 8, USA Today reported.
Proposition 8 examines the question of whether the U.S. Constitution gives gay couples a right to marry. After the California Supreme Court ruled for gay marriage in 2008, opponents put on the ballot and won approval for Proposition 8, which amended the state's Constitution and restricted marriage to the union of a man and a woman.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Proposition 8 in a 2-1 decision. The narrowly written decision authored by Judge Stephen Reinhardt did not say the U.S. Constitution gives gays and lesbians a right to marry in every state. Instead, he said California violated the Constitution by taking away a right to marry after it had been briefly granted.
Many court watchers think the justices are also likely to decide whether a key provision of the Voting Rights Act is constitutional.
The Voting Rights Act requires states and local governments with a history of racial and ethnic discrimination to get advance approval either from the Justice Department or the federal court in Washington before making any changes that affect elections.
In 2006, Congress approved and President George W. Bush signed legislation that extended the law for 25 more years.
Civil rights groups and the Obama administration say the provisionis critical to preserving the voting rights of minorities.
Critics contend the provision is burdensome and the list of affected states no longer corresponds with any particular threat to voting by African Americans or Latinos.
The justices will decide whether to hear an appeal from the South and decide whether the law has “outlived its time,” Politico reported.
The business community and human rights advocates will begin arguments Monday over whether businesses can be sued in U.S. courts for human rights violations that take place on foreign soil and have foreign victims, Newsday reported.
The case, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., will examine the reach of the Alien Tort Statute passed in 1789 used to combat piracy, among other things. The statute has been used since 1980 to fight human rights abuses. In 2004, the court said it would use the statute for claims based in “universally condemned human rights violations” including genocide, torture and human trafficking, along with piracy. The justices will decide to either maintain that position or decide to read the law based on its historical roots.
Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of the Supreme Court here.
Reach Executive Producer Jackie Mansky here.