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Supreme Court fall agenda filled with blockbuster cases

  • Written by Judge Greg Mathis
When the U.S. Supreme Court resumes this fall, the Justices will rule on some of today’s hottest and most controversial issues, including same sex marriage, the health care law and, perhaps, affirmative action.
 Judge Greg Mathis

The U.S. Supreme Court ended its spring term with a bang, siding with discount retailer Wal-Mart and blocking a sex discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of women who work for the company. Though the Court’s decision in the case will forever impact the way class action lawsuits are handled, it may seem like small potatoes when compared to the cases the Court has on its docket for its fall term.

When the Court resumes this fall, the Justices will rule on some of today’s hottest and most controversial issues, including same sex marriage, the health care law, immigration and, perhaps, affirmative action. Their final rulings will impact American life in a significant way for decades to come.

The gay rights movement has picked up steam in recent years and, now, a key issue in that fight will be argued in front of the court. Justices will decide whether or not it is unconstitutional for the government to not recognize same sex marriages.

Only seven states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Four other states allow same-sex unions. Unfortunately, the federal government doesn’t recognize any of these unions. The Defense of Marriage Act was passed in 1996 and barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to do the same if they wish. The Justice Department, spurred on by President Obama, has decided to stop defending DOMA in court, paving the way for a reversal of the law.

On the healthcare front, states are challenging the federal government’s right to require citizens to purchase health insurance. The sweeping healthcare reform ushered in by President Obama mandates that all individuals be covered under a health insurance policy. The laws, opponents say, reflect Congress overstepping its Constitutional authority. If the Court shares this viewpoint, the reform we all pushed for could fall flat. If it does not, the law’s detractors will have suffered a major legal and political blow.

The Court’s ruling on immigration reform would influence the way the U.S. folds current undocumented immigrants into society and will affect the way we protect our borders. Arizona and a smattering of other states with hard-line immigration laws where illegal immigrants are aggressively identified, prosecuted and deported, may very well learn whether or not those laws are legal under the U.S. Constitution.

There’s no way of telling how the Court will vote. We must temper our optimism for progressive rulings with the fact that the Court is dominated by Justices appointed by Republican presidents. Though the Justice’s decisions should not be based on politics, it is not unreasonable to think the Justices share the same ideology as the particular president who appointed them.

Let’s hope that the Justices will stay far away from politics and not lean on their conservative viewpoints when they resume Court in the fall and consider cases that have such a far-reaching impact on American society.

(To contact Judge Greg Mathis, visit www.askjudgemathis.com.)

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