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Monday, October 2, 2017

The 5 ISSUES Supreme Court Will Review This Fall

The Supreme Court Building is seen, Thursday, March 5, 2009, on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Kellan Howell

The Supreme Court of the U.S. is headed back to the bench next week and will hear oral arguments on a slew of controversial cases. It's also the start of newly confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch's first full term on the bench, and his conservative leaning vote could have a big impact on some serious hot button topics. Here are five of the biggest issues the court will review this term.

1. LGBTQ rights v. free speech

The case of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple has made its way to the nation's highest court.

Baker Jack Phillips was found to have violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act in 2012 when he refused to create a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins. Phillips said he doesn't make cakes for same-sex couples because it violates his religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court's ruling will determine whether or not businesses can refuse service to same-sex couples based on First Amendment protections for religious expression.

Earlier this month, the Department of Justice filed a brief on behalf of Phillips, arguing his cakes are a form of expression and he cannot be compelled to use his talents for something he does not believe in.

2. Gerrymandering

The Supreme Court has refrained from striking down Congressional maps for being partisan in the past, but this month the court will hear a case out of Wisconsin that some experts say could change the way voting maps are drawn nationwide.

Wisconsin Democrats say district lines in their state have been drawn to favor Republicans. In 2012, Republicans lost the statewide popular vote but still won 60 percent of the seats in the state assembly.

All eyes will be on Justice Anthony Kennedy. In 2004, Kennedy said that he would need to see statistical evidence to prove a partisan bias before he would rule gerrymandering unconstitutional. Democrats are trying to do just that with this case.

3. Cellphone privacy

Justices will consider whether prosecutors need a warrant to gather geographical data from cellphone towers to track suspects.

The plaintiff, Timothy Carpenter, is seeking to overturn his conviction for participating in nine armed robberies in Detroit, Michigan. Prosecutors used GPS data from cell towers to show Carpenter was near the site of each robbery during the time of the crime.

Police need a warrant to search information on cellphones seized during an arrest and in 2013, the court ruled unanimously that police could not track suspects by placing GPS units on their cars.

4. Voter registration

Ohio officials have removed people from voter rolls if they don't vote during a six-year period and have not responded to a request to confirm their information.

Critics say the voter-purges are a form of voter suppression, but state officials say the purges keeps their voter rolls up to date.

The court's decision on the case could impact President Trump's voter fraud initiative. Trump has sided with Ohio in the case and has launched a commission to determine the extent of election fraud nationwide and make recommendations on how to combat it.

Critics say there are very few cases of voter fraud and they have virtually no impact on elections. Trump has claimed that election fraud cost him the popular vote in 2016.

5. Immigration
The American Civil Liberties Union has brought a lawsuit challenging the government over how long it detains immigrants without due process.

The main plaintiff in the case, Alejandro Rodriguez, was imprisoned for more than three years without a bond hearing while he went through the deportation process. Rodriguez came to the U.S. from Mexico with his parents when he was a baby.

In 2013, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiff and ordered the government to hold bond hearings for detainees locked up for six months or longer while they are going through the deportation process.


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