The U.S. Supreme Court begins a new term, with some speculation that the cases it will hear provide an opportunity for some conservative wins.

The U.S. Supreme Court begins a new term, with some speculation that the cases it will hear provide an opportunity for some conservative wins.

As the U.S. Supreme Court begins a new term, speculation about what they’ll decide in already announced cases, and about what other cases they’ll choose to hear, is well under way. Some see this new term as providing the conservative side of the court with opportunities to act in such basic areas as the role of religion, including as related to whether employers can be forced to provide contraception. Voting rights and marriage equality (next steps) are other possible issues. First up are campaign funding and prayers at town council meetings.

At SCOTUSBlog, Amy Howe writes:

(Yesterday was) … the first Monday in October, which means … the Justices will return to the bench for the first time since they issued a series of historic rulings at the end of June. In the Los Angeles Times, David Savage looks ahead at the new Term, which he characterizes as one that “˜gives the court’s conservative bloc a clear opportunity to shift the law to the right on touchstone social issues such as abortion, contraception and religion, as well as the political controversy over campaign funding’; at BuzzFeed, Chris Geidner lists his eleven cases “˜that could change the U.S. in the coming year.’ The editorial board of The New York Times weighs in on the new Term as well, emphasizing that, although “˜[n]o case yet promises the high-profile splash of rulings on national health care, voting rights or same-sex marriage, . . . in many of them, long-established Supreme Court precedents may be at risk.’ And in the ABA Journal, Erwin Chemerinsky focuses on the Court’s October sitting, concluding that there is “˜every reason to believe that October Term 2013 will again involve decisions that affect not only the law and legal system, but each of us, often in the most important and intimate aspects of our lives.’

In that LA Times article Howe mentions, David G. Savage offers this:

If the justices on the right agree among themselves, they could free wealthy donors to give far more to candidates and parties and clear the way for exclusively Christian prayers at local government events.

In other cases due to be heard this fall, the justices are likely to uphold state bans on college affirmative action and block most housing bias claims that allege an unfair impact on blacks and Latinos.

They may also give states more authority to restrict and regulate abortion. …
By next spring, the justices are likely to revisit part of President Obama’s healthcare law to decide a religious-rights challenge to the requirement that large private employers provide their workers with coverage for contraceptives.

Savage argues that “advocates on the right” are using the strategy employed by “gay rights activist,” that is, working to “push … cases toward the high court.” Those on the right are

… confident that Kennedy will join the four conservatives to rule in their favor on religion, affirmative action, campaign finance and abortion.

Chris Geidner, at Buzzfeed, writes “11 Supreme Court Cases That Could Change The U.S. In The Coming Year.”

As court-watchers wonder what the term will hold for the future of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the legacy of retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the justices themselves are preparing for a term that, at the outset, appears to focus on revisiting “” and possibly overruling “” some precedents established in past decades and considering anew issues at the outer limits of the powers of the three branches of government.

Among the cases Geidner considers: Presidential Recess Appointments; Campaign Finance “Aggregate” Limits; Reproductive Health Clinic Buffer-Zone Law; Legislative Prayer; Air Standards; Obama Administration Contraception Mandate; Religious Liberty and Non-Discrimination Laws; Cell Phone Search After Arrest.

The Court declined to hear a sodomy law case. Virginia Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli sought to appeal a lower court ruling which declared the state’s sodomy law “wholly unconstitutional,” as Josh Israel, at Think Progress, writes.

Cuccinelli had made his defense of the law an issue in his campaign for governor.

At Keen News, Lisa Keen looks at various cases which she terms “gay-related,” while also looking ahead to what she calls the:

… the next big one: state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.
Thomas Goldstein, publisher of the site which many legal observers rely on to stay abreast of analysis of pending cases, said a case testing the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage “˜is coming on a rocket ship.’

Public Citizen Litigation Group Director Allison Zieve agreed, adding that she thinks that case will be “˜more controversial’ because it will decide whether the federal constitution requires states to treat married same-sex couples the same as straight couples. …
… (T)he Supreme Court’s Perry (Prop 8) case was decided on a technicality. The decision did not address the question of whether similar state bans ““which exist still in 36 states””are constitutional. …

As many as 35 lawsuits in 19 states are now challenging those state bans on same-sex marriage, according to Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal which is leading five of those lawsuits.

In terms of specific cases, the “most likely to reach the Supreme Court first” is a challenge in Nevada, brought by Lambda Legal. Other cases challenging same-sex marriage bans at the state level, in various stages in the courts, are from Hawaii, with two in Virginia, one with the ACLU and Lambda Legal heading up the challenge, and another with Prop 8 attorneys Ted Olson and David Boise, working with local attorneys.

Whether from left or right, “pushing” cases toward the Supreme Court, as David Savage argues, obviously focuses on what the best guesses are regarding Justice Kennedy. That’s along with the assumption you know what the other eight will do. Whatever, it should be another interesting SCOTUS-watching term.