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SCOTUS Welcomes Public, New Justice 10/03 06:11

10/3/2022 - 06:12:00

SCOTUS Welcomes Public, New Justice    10/03 06:11

   The Supreme Court is beginning its new term, welcoming the public back to 
the courtroom and hearing arguments for the first time since issuing a landmark 
ruling stripping away women's constitutional protections for abortion.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court is beginning its new term, welcoming 
the public back to the courtroom and hearing arguments for the first time since 
issuing a landmark ruling stripping away women's constitutional protections for 
abortion.

   Monday's session also is the first time new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, 
the court's first Black female justice, will participate in arguments. And the 
public is back for the first time since the court closed in March 2020 because 
of the coronavirus pandemic.

   The court's overturning of the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade abortion 
decision is still reverberating in legal fights over state abortion bans and 
other restrictions. But a new stack of high-profile cases awaits the justices. 
Several cases the court has agreed to hear involve race or elections or both, 
and the court has also agreed to hear a dispute that returns the issue of free 
speech and LGBTQ rights to the court.

   Also hanging over the justices is some unfinished business from last term: 
the leak of a draft of the abortion decision seven weeks before it was formally 
announced. Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation, but the court 
has yet to provide an update.

   Jackson, for her part, has been waiting for months to fully begin her new 
role since being confirmed in April. She was sworn in when Justice Stephen 
Breyer retired in June, at the end of a term where the court dominated 6-3 by 
conservatives also expanded gun rights, reined in the government's ability to 
fight climate change and blocked a Biden administration effort to get workers 
at large companies vaccinated against COVID-19. Breyer, a liberal, was on the 
losing side of those cases, and Jackson is also expected to be in dissent in 
many of the court's most prominent cases.

   Since she was sworn in, however, the court has largely been on a summer 
break. The justices met privately last week to consider a long list of appeals 
that piled up over the summer. On Friday, the justices took the bench for a 
brief ceremony in which Roberts wished Jackson a "long and happy career in our 
common calling," the traditional welcome for a new justice.

   But Jackson also joins the court at a time of declining public support for 
the court. Polls following the court's abortion decision have shown a sharp 
drop in the court's approval rating and in people's confidence in the court as 
an institution. A poll over the summer found 43% of Americans saying they have 
hardly any confidence in the court, up from 27% earlier in the year.

   On Monday, the court is considering an important water rights case that 
could limit federal regulation under the nation's main water pollution law, the 
Clean Water Act.

   Other significant cases include a controversial Republican-led appeal that 
could dramatically change the way elections for Congress and the presidency are 
conducted by handing more power to state legislatures. There's also the case of 
a Colorado website designer who says her religious beliefs prevent her working 
with same-sex couples on their weddings. Next month, the justices will hear a 
challenge to the consideration of race in college admissions.