September 29, 2021

SCOTUS to Tackle Abortion, Guns, and Religious Liberty

Major cases holding signifiant impact are on the docket this year.

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will open their new term next week. The 2021-2022 session promises to provide some significant decisions that will have lasting impact on issues ranging from religious liberty to abortion to the Second Amendment. How will the Court’s ostensible 6-3 conservative majority hold up? Time will tell.

The headline case and likely the most important one the Court will hear this term is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case represents the biggest abortion challenge in three decades, and it holds the potential to yield a decision gutting or overturning Roe v. Wade and/or Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the latter of which largely replaced Roe.

At issue is Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, passed in 2018, which prohibits abortions after 15 weeks except in the case of medical emergency. The law was challenged by Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and declared unconstitutional by a federal district court. That ruling was subsequently upheld by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. remains one of only a handful of countries, most of the rest of them communist paradises like China and North Korea, that allow abortion after viability.

Another case has significant Second Amendment ramifications. At issue in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen is whether a state, in this case New York, can require an individual to obtain a license in order to possess a firearm, no matter whether at home or outside their home. The New York law was highly subjective in nature, as it left the permitting decision entirely up to a state officer to determine if “no good cause exists for the denial of the license.” The New York law also required individuals seeking a license to show “proper cause” to lawfully carry a handgun. In other words, New York’s presumption is anti-Second Amendment, leaving citizens to prove the case for exercising their rights instead of burdening the state with proving why those rights must be infringed in any way.

Religious liberty is also under consideration in several cases the justices will hear. Specifically, Carson v. Makin challenges the state of Maine with religious discrimination on account of a government-sponsored student-aid program that explicitly excluded religious schools from receiving funds. SCOTUS had already ruled in a case against Montana’s similarly discriminatory policies.

With the current makeup of the Supreme Court seemingly favoring conservative rulings, Democrats and Leftmedia outlets have preemptively declared any decisions from this Court to be heavily influenced by political bias and therefore essentially illegitimate, when in fact the exact opposite would be the case. The justices have gone out of their way to push back against these claims of politicization, noting that Democrats should be hanging that label upon Congress, where it belongs.

Besides, the six justices generally on the originalist side of the Court do not walk in activist lockstep the way the leftists do. And Chief Justice John Roberts in particular usually prefers the narrowest ruling possible. The outcome in these and other cases is anything but certain.

Correction: Carson v. Makin deals with Maine, not Montana as was originally stated. Edited for clarity.

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