Supreme Court Gets Highly Political Cases
Unions and abortion rights could be in jeopardy
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2015 4:20 PM CDT
In the photo taken Oct. 6, 2014 shows people waiting to enter the Supreme Court in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – The Supreme Court is facing a docket of high-profile political cases that will test whether recent liberal victories were more fluke or firm conviction, the New York Times reports. The court—which is divided 5-4 for conservatives, but saw Justice Roberts vote liberal on Obamacare and same-sex marriage—will look at cases including unions, affirmative action, and possibly abortion. A primer:

  • Unions: Since 1977, unions have been allowed to charge non-union workers for dues that go to collective bargaining efforts, but not political ones. Now California teachers have brought a case saying collective bargaining is itself political. "It could set the stage for a Citizens United-style reconsideration in the area of union dues," a lawyer says.
  • Affirmative Action: Abigail Fisher says that being white played a role in the University of Texas denying her admission back in 2008. The Supreme Court punted on her case in 2013, and now it's back on the docket. Like the unions case, this was brought by a conservative group that recruited the plaintiffs.
  • The death penalty: Justices will decide on capital-punishment cases in Pennsylvania, Kansas, Georgia, and Florida, the Wall Street Journal reports. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer have already expressed doubts about whether capital punishment is constitutional.
  • "One person, one vote": Should state legislative districts be drawn based on their number of people or eligible voters? If justices choose the latter—leaving out immigrants and children—Latinos could lose political clout and rural areas will gain, Politico reports.
  • Abortion: Justices may opt to revisit a Texas law that could reduce the state's abortion clinics from more than 40 to roughly 10. At issue is whether new clinic requirements are an "undue burden" on women's right to an abortion.

One commentator believes this Supreme Court session will be ugly for liberals.