From Where We Are

U.S. Supreme Court begins new term following the overturning of Roe v. Wade

The highest court in the land will tackle contentious cases as it begins a new session today.

A photo of the US Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

Hot issues and controversial topics are up for debate. The U.S. Supreme Court is back in session after the polarizing overturn of Roe v. Wade. With newly elected Ketanji Brown Jackson, SCOTUS will discuss issues ranging from gay rights to affirmative action to voting laws.

The curtains lifted today on another blockbuster U.S. Supreme Court term. Justices on the court may be trying to find a new normal after their decision to overturn Roe v. Wade lit a summer of protest and partisanship. A New York Times poll found sixty-two percent of registered voters disapprove of the Dobbs decision -- with thirty percent in support. Opposition is even stronger among women.

Adam Winkler teaches law at UCLA.

ADAM WINKLER: The Supreme Court is moving in a very severe rightward direction and on many issues out of line with the American people.

Looking ahead to the new term, the justices will hear a flurry of consequential cases. These include Moore v. Harper (which will debate state authority in federal elections), Merril v. Milligan (which deals with racial gerrymandering) and Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. That one could impact university admissions processes, says Jessica Levinson. She teaches constitutional law at LMU.

JESSICA LEVINSON: There’s also a big question about affirmative action and whether or not the Supreme Court will allow colleges and universities to consider race as a factor when it’s making admissions decision.

The new term is the first for the first African American woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Jackson replaced a fellow liberal Justice, so her votes may not change many Supreme Court decisions. But her influence will be felt, says UCLA law professor Adam Winkler

WINKLER: It is possible that through her persuasive power, she may make an impact, perhaps in how the court writes its decision ending race-based affirmative action because of her own experience as a racial minority and as someone who has experienced racial discrimination. But that influence is likely to only be marginal.

Though SCOTUS may appear far removed from the average Joe, Winkler believes that the cases on the table are relevant to all Americans.

WINKLER: I think everyone should care about the Supreme Court decisions because it will fundamentally reshape the law. And we all live in a society governed by law.

In the context of the Dobbs decision, LMU’s Levinson echoes this sentiment.

LEVINSON: I think some people certainly will pay more attention to the Supreme Court now understanding that there are five people who can have huge control over our lives.

The new term opens as trust in the Supreme Court and its job approval rating are at historic lows. In a recent Gallup poll, for the first time, just under half of Americans express trust in the Supreme Court.