Supreme Court with Justice Jackson faces major tests on race

Supreme Court with Justice Jackson faces major tests on race
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At the United States Supreme Court, the siege may be over, but the mood is still sour.

The nine justices of the nation’s highest court, six conservatives and three liberals, met publicly on Monday for the first time since its blockbuster ruling striking down abortion rights in Roe v. Wade. They face a sharp decline in public confidence even as protests have died down and security barricades have come down.

“The big question now is whether judges will feel any pressure to respond to public disapproval. It doesn’t look like it,” said Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center.

The Supreme Court in Washington, DC on August 28, 2022.

Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

The conservative majority, led by Senior Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, is set to make more dramatic changes to US law in the coming months, including in several race-related disputes.

“The five most conservative members of the court are interested in a maximalist strategy, basically to push the law as far and as fast as possible while still keeping control of this court,” said Kate Shaw, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law and ABC News legal. analyst.

“Underlying the challenges in each of the race-related cases is the idea that the Constitution absolutely prohibits any distinction based on race, regardless of motivation,” Shaw said. “I think we might well see a vindication of that position.”

Judges will hear arguments about the use of race in undergraduate admissions at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina later this month. The court’s Tories appear poised to end affirmative action in higher education, overturning decades of precedent and banning any consideration of race as a factor in student admissions.

“That could be the term when the court clearly stated that the Constitution is color blind — through a range of state actions,” Rosen said, “and further restricts the ability to be racially aware in voting rights and adoption. And that will be a sea change in American law.”

Photo: Colorado Has Long Been At The Center Of The Lgbtq Rights Debate.  A U.s. Supreme Court Decision In Romer V. Evans 26 Years Ago Struck Down A Colorado Amendment Barring Protections For Lgbtq People.

Colorado has long been at the center of the LGBTQ rights debate. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in Romer v. Evans 26 years ago struck down a Colorado amendment barring protections for LGBTQ people.

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The court will decide whether Alabama’s electoral maps dilute black voting power under the Voting Rights Act and, in a major North Carolina case, decide whether state legislatures should have significantly more power over federal elections.

“It has a lot of implications for who gets to decide when, where and how real elections take place,” said Sarah Isgur, a former Justice Department attorney and ABC News legal contributor.

The judges will also hear a major case on gay rights and free speech that could have sweeping implications for anti-discrimination laws nationwide.

“The stakes really couldn’t be higher for LGBTQ people,” said Jennifer Pizer, acting chief legal officer of Lambda Legal, which advocates for members of the gay community.

A wedding website designer is asking the court to strike down a Colorado public accommodations law that she says requires her to serve LGBTQ couples. “There are some messages that I’m not able to promote through my business,” said Lorie Smith, designer and owner of 303 Creative LLC.

Photo: Gestation Crates, Or Sow Stalls, Which Confine Females During Breeding And Gestation Are Widely Used In The Swine Industry.  California's Proposition 12 Would Ban Crates And The Sale Of Pork From Farms That Use Them.

Gestation crates, or sow stalls, which confine female pigs during breeding and pregnancy are widely used in the swine industry. California’s Proposition 12 would ban crates and the sale of pork from farms that use them.

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After a major ruling last term on power plant regulations, judges will rule on the EPA’s authority to protect wetlands over landowner objections. They will also pick up California’s Proposition 12, which would ban the sale of pork from pregnant pigs kept in crates.

“If this law were to continue, pork — especially in California — would be much more expensive,” said Lori Stevermer, vice president of the National Pork Producers Council.

These cases will unfold during a campaign season dominated by unusually high voter engagement around the court.

“Women are enrolling in greater numbers in a number of critical states since the Dobbs [abortion] decision, and all of that in a tight election cycle could be the difference in a number of races,” Shaw said.

Photo: Abortion Rights Supporters March To Protest The Supreme Court's Recent Decision To End Federal Abortion Rights Protections, June 27, 2022, In Los Angeles.

Abortion rights supporters demonstrate against the Supreme Court’s recent decision to end federal abortion rights protections, June 27, 2022, in Los Angeles.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

With a rise in partisanship within the court, several judges attempted to project unity.

“We love each other. We really love each other,” Judge Amy Coney Barrett said at a joint event with Judge Sonia Sotomayor earlier this summer. “As we often joke, it’s like a marriage. We are starters for life and we get along well.”

But behind the scenes, relations between some judges remain strained, sources say.

Who leaked Justice Samuel Alito’s draft majority opinion on abortion remains an apparent mystery, several judges have said publicly. A report on the internal investigation is expected as early as this month, but it is unclear whether the findings will be made public.

Photo: Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Of The Supreme Court, Speaks At The Heritage Foundation, October 21, 2021, In Washington, Dc

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas speaks at the Heritage Foundation, October 21, 2021, in Washington, DC

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“If not, I fear these types of leaks will become commonplace in the Supreme Court,” said Carrie Severino, former clerk at Thomas and president of the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative legal advocacy group.

Enter Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the sixth new judge in the past 13 years.

“Judge Jackson is going to be a fantastic colleague and will bring all kinds of new things,” Judge Elena Kagan said during an appearance in Chicago last month.

Jackson is the first former public defender and first judge raised in Florida. Her appointment marks the first time that four seats on the High Court bench will be filled by women.

“She is unlikely to be the deciding vote in some of these most important cases, on the other hand she could have a huge influence on the court in its ability to focus its dissents on specific judges to change certain of these majority opinions,” says Isgur.

Photo: Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. (R) Administers The Constitutional Oath To Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (L) In The West Conference Room Of The Supreme Court, June 30, 2022, In Washington, Dc

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. (R) administers the constitutional oath to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (L) in the West Conference Room of the Supreme Court, June 30, 2022, in Washington, DC

United States Supreme Court via Getty Images

Vogue magazine thrust Jackson into the spotlight last month with portraits taken at the Lincoln Memorial – his first major media appearance since being sworn in. But it’s Judge Thomas that most legal experts are watching the court’s decisions the most in the coming weeks.

“It’s Court Thomas,” Rosen said. “And Judge Thomas can go to great lengths to overturn the precedents he has stood for for a very long time.”

ABC News

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