End the duopoly

Supreme Court term to be punctuated by presidential politics

The Supreme Court will confront ideological issues such as immigration and LGBT rights that have sharply divided Congress and the nation in a new term starting Monday that will bring more scrutiny to the justices during a heated presidential campaign season.

In many ways, the nine justices are still settling into a new internal dynamic with two President Donald Trump appointees in as many years. The court had few high-profile cases last term, amid the drama of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation that gripped the nation and solidified the court’s conservative ideological tilt.

As the justices enter a new term Monday that lasts through the end of June, the big question remains how the conservative wing will use its majority to reshape the nation’s legal landscape, including on issues that have stalled in Congress.

“We will likely see a court moving further and faster and in a rightward direction,” said Irv Gornstein, the executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown University Law Center. “The docket almost guarantees it.”

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The court already will determine the power of the president in immigration policy and the fate of about 700,000 so-called Dreamers who arrived in the United States illegally as children. The justices could either remove or firmly establish the discrimination protections of LGBT employees. They could weigh in on Second Amendment rights for the first time in almost a decade.

More cases added this term could include a challenge to a Louisiana law that abortion rights advocates say would leave only one clinic in the state, as well as a case that could determine whether Congress can protect the heads of independent agencies from being fired by the president for policy disagreements.


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