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Divisive Issues Face New US Supreme Court Term

FILE - People stand in line hoping to enter the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015.

The new term for the U.S. Supreme Court is set to begin this week after a three-month break following major rulings on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act in June.

The nine judges, five appointed by Republican presidents and four by Democrats, will begin looking at cases Monday, but the recent liberal leaning decisions may not be reflective of what is expected to come this term, experts say.

Here are some of the cases that already are on or likely to appear on the U.S. Supreme Court’s agenda this term, which ends in June:

Public Unions

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association will challenge whether labor unions in the public sector can require employees to pay collective bargaining fees even if they do not share the union’s views.

Affirmative Action

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin questions the constitutionality of using race as one of various factors in the college admissions process. The Constitution’s 14th Amendment provides “equal protection” to all citizens, and this case challenges whether using race in college admissions to create a diverse student body gives an unequal advantage to people of certain races.


Evenwel v. Abbott questions whether Hispanic citizens’ opinions are unfairly favored while giving conservative voters less of a voice because of the way voting districts are divided. The 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” of citizens ensures a “one person, one vote” policy, and the court will determine where current electoral district divisions are unfairly giving certain populations more weight when voting.


There are questions about whether a Texas law that restricts access to abortion providers prevents women from seeking safe abortions. Those challenging this law said there is more of a focus on shutting down clinics and less of a focus on ensuring women’s health protection.

Some material for this report came from Reuters.