Supreme Court Still to Rule on Roe v. Wade’s Fate

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The Supreme Court is expected to issue at least one opinion Friday as it closes out one of its most contentious sessions in recent years, including the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion that, if the majority holds, would overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision recognizing abortion rights.

The court has nine cases remaining from this term on which it still has to issue opinions, a process it normally concludes by early July. Here are five of the most important ones.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Awaiting decision

The sole abortion provider in Mississippi sued the state over its 2018 law banning abortions after 15 weeks, arguing that it contravenes Roe v. Wade and later precedents affirming the right to end an unwanted pregnancy before the fetus becomes viable at around 24 weeks. Oral arguments at the beginning of December showed conservative justices open to the state’s law. The leaked draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, dated in February and confirmed as authentic by the court, indicates that the justices have preliminarily voted to overrule Roe.

In a statement after the leak, the court said the draft opinion doesn’t necessarily reflect the final position of any justice. If it does, states will be free to apply their own laws on abortion.

More than a dozen states have more restrictive laws ready that would be triggered by the overturning of Roe, and another 10 have pre-existing restrictions they may seek to revive. More liberal states that recognize abortion rights through their own statutes or constitutions could buttress their own protections or take steps to allow women from states with tighter restrictions to obtain the procedure across state lines.

Kennedy v. Bremerton School District

Awaiting decision

A school district in Washington state says a high-school football coach was improperly using his public employment to promote his religion by kneeling in silent prayer on the 50-yard line after games, with some players coming over to join him. The former coach, Joe Kennedy, said his actions amounted to a protected act of private speech because he played no favorites with the students who participated in the prayer circle.

Biden v. Texas

Awaiting decision

In this case, the Supreme Court will rule on whether the Biden administration can be compelled to maintain the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico program, which denied entry to asylum applicants from Central America while their cases were being processed. The Biden administration said the law exposed asylum applicants to unsafe conditions, and that it was pursuing other measures to ease the burden on the immigration system; Missouri and Texas said the government was obliged either to deny entry to these applicants or imprison them within the U.S. until their claims were resolved.

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency

Awaiting decision

A coalition of Republican-leaning states and small coal producers argue that EPA’s power to combat greenhouse gases is limited to measures within the fence lines of specific power plants, excluding broader measures the agency says are more effective. The case, argued in February, could lead to new limits on the executive branch’s regulatory power.

Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta

Awaiting decision

Oklahoma argues it retains concurrent authority on Indian reservations with the federal government to prosecute nontribal citizens even when a crime’s victim is Native American, seeking to reverse one consequence of the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision recognizing nearly half of the state as Indian country. That decision transferred many criminal cases from state courts to federal jurisdiction. Should the court agree with Oklahoma, other states with Indian reservations could find themselves with authority for prosecuting crimes over swaths of territory that for generations have been the U.S. Justice Department’s sole responsibility.


Here are some notable decisions the Supreme Court reached in its current session:

Federal Election Commission v. Ted Cruz for Senate

Decision: 6-3

Majority: Justices Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett

Dissenting: Justices Kagan, Breyer, and Sotomayor

On May 16, the court’s conservatives issued a 6-3 decision siding with Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) by striking down a federal campaign-finance regulation limiting politicians from repaying loans to themselves above $250,000 from donations received after Election Day.

Southwest Airlines Co. v. Saxon

Decision: 8–0 (Justice Barrett didn’t participate)

The court ruled unanimously on June 6 that airline baggage handlers can’t be compelled to resolve employment disputes through individual private arbitration, bucking a trend of recent decisions making it easier for employers to avoid class-action lawsuits brought by workers. The case has closely been watched for its implications for other types of workers, such as drivers hired by Amazon.com Inc. or Uber Technologies Inc. But Monday’s opinion stuck closely to the facts of the Southwest case.

Arizona v. City and County of San Francisco

Dismissed

The court on June 15 dismissed a case regarding the effort by Republican-led states to reinstate a Trump-era regulation penalizing lawful immigrants for using welfare benefits, deciding after the case was argued that it should never have agreed to hear it in the first place. The decision affords the Biden administration a victory in its effort to lower the threshold for using welfare benefits that disqualifies lawful immigrants from obtaining “green cards” for permanent residency. The court’s one-sentence order provided no explanation, as is customary when the justices dismiss a case as “improvidently granted.”

Carson v. Makin

Decision: 6-3

Majority: Justices Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett

Dissenting: Justices Kagan, Breyer, and Sotomayor

The court ruled on June 21 that religious schools can’t be excluded from a Maine program that pays private-school tuition for students in areas that lack public schools, the latest decision by a conservative majority skeptical of precedents that drew a bright line between church and state.

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen

Decision: 6-3

Majority: Justices Thomas, Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett

Dissenting: Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor

The court on June 23 struck down New York state’s system for issuing concealed weapons permits, ruling that the century-old law requiring that applicants demonstrate “proper cause” and “good moral character” violates the Second Amendment. The decision marks the widest expansion of gun rights since 2010, when the court applied nationwide a 2008 ruling establishing an individual right of armed self-defense within the home. It puts in question laws in nine other states and the District of Columbia, where authorities hold substantial discretion over issuing concealed-weapons permits.

Berger v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP

Decision: 8-1

Majority: Justices Gorsuch, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, Breyer, Kagan, Kavanaugh and Barrett

Dissenting: Justice Sotomayor

The court on Thursday said top Republican legislators in North Carolina can step in and advocate for a voter-identification law they believe the state’s attorney general, a Democrat, isn’t adequately defending in court. The narrowly drawn 8-1 decision by Justice Neil Gorsuch found that Republican leaders of the North Carolina legislature can intervene in long-running litigation over a 2018 law requiring a photo ID to vote in person at the polls.

This article may be periodically updated.