Here are the big cases to watch in Supreme Court's new term

David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court this term will hear arguments in more than 50 cases that have been granted review so far. Here are some of the most closely watched :


Does the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- which outlaws job discrimination "because of ... sex" -- protect gays, lesbians and transgender employees from being fired? California and 21 other states prohibit such discrimination, but Congress has not added that protection to federal law. In recent years, however, U.S. appeals courts in New York, Chicago and Cincinnati have ruled it is sex discrimination to fire employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Trump administration has urged the court to overturn those decisions. Arguments in three cases will be heard on Oct. 8. They are Bostock vs. Clayton County, Altitude Express vs. Zarda and R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Home vs. EEOC.


Was President Trump justified in revoking the Obama-era rule that shielded from deportation more than 700,000 young immigrants who entered the country illegally as children? In 2017, Trump administration officials said they would "wind down" the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals because Obama's executive order was illegal and an "unconstitutional exercise of authority." Federal judges in California blocked the repeal on procedural grounds. They said Obama's order was legal so it could not be repealed by claiming it was illegal. "To be clear: we do not hold that DACA could not be rescinded as an exercise of executive discretion," the 9th Circuit said. The justices will hear arguments on Nov. 12 in Department of Homeland Security vs. University of California.



Can a city restrict gun owners from carrying a handgun in their car? At issue is an unusual New York City ordinance that allowed residents to keep a legal handgun at home but prohibited them from transporting it, even to a second home outside the city. The court has never ruled directly on whether the 2nd Amendment protects a right to carry a gun in public. Trump administration lawyers urge the court to rule that the right to "bear" arms includes the right to carry a weapon. However, the city's lawyers say the case should be dismissed as moot because its no-transporting regulation was repealed. Arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. vs. City of New York are set for Dec. 2.


Must a state offer grants and scholarships to students in church-related schools if it offers such money to students in other private schools? Two years ago, the court broke new ground by ruling the 1st Amendment's protection for the "free exercise of religion" forbids discrimination against churches when the government gives grants to private groups. Most states, however, have constitutions that forbid giving tax money to churches. The Montana Supreme Court, citing its constitution, blocked a state scholarship fund from giving money to students attending church-related schools. The Trump administration argues such discrimination is unconstitutional because it imposes "a special disability on religious schools because they are religious." Arguments will be heard in January in the case of Espinoza vs. Montana.



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