The Supreme Court, now with a solid conservative majority after last year’s appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, has several cases on its docket this term that could have significant ramifications on American politics and social issues for generations to come.
The high court — with 5 conservatives and 4 liberals — has largely kept a relatively low profile so far this term, which ends in June.
But it could ultimately hand major wins to Republicans, who are emboldened by Kavanaugh’s appointment and sharpening their focus while a slew of hot-button disputes work their way up from lower courts.
With the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018, President Trump cemented a solid conservative majority on the bench.
Kavanaugh has the second-most conservative score (0.693) next to Justice Clarence Thomas (0.725), per a measure that score judges on a liberal-conservative spectrum.
An analysis by political scientists Lee Epstein, Andrew D. Martin, and Kevin Quinn places judges on an ideological spectrum called the “Judicial Common Space.”
Conservative justices receive scores from 0 to 1, liberal justices from –1 to 0.
Most liberal: Sonia Sotomayor (-0.521)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (-0.518)
Elena Kagan (-0.302)
Stephen Breyer (-0.280)
John Roberts (0.089)
Samuel Alito (0.317)
Neil Gorsuch (0.486)
Brett Kavanaugh (0.693)
Clarence Thomas (0.725)
Why do ideologies on the high court make a difference?
Some key cases to watch this term, where conservatives could rack up some huge judicial wins:
2020 citizenship question: The court heard arguments Tuesday and will rule by June on whether the Trump administration’s decision to add a controversial citizenship question to the 2020 census is unconstitutional.
Partisan gerrymandering: Also by June, the court will determine whether electoral maps drawn to preserve a political advantage can cross a constitutional line, after hearing 2 cases last month challenging partisan gerrymandering.
LGBTQ workplace discrimination: The court accepted 3 blockbuster cases on Monday that question whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Abortion: Abortion rights advocates asked the high court last week to strike down a Louisiana law that they said would leave the state with just 1 clinic. The court agreed in February, by a 5-4 vote, to temporarily block the law from going into effect pending a full review of the case.
Affordable Care Act: Legal challenges by Republicans against the ACA, which the court upheld in 2012 and 2015, are likely to reach the high court again.