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Several cases of interest to Christians on agenda as new Supreme Court term begins

The U.S. Supreme Court by tradition starts its new term on the first Monday in October. While awaiting the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, several religious rights cases are on this year’s agenda.

Foster care. The main religious liberty case involves a Philadelphia Catholic foster care agency that was banned from placing foster children for the city because the agency – for biblical reasons – wouldn’t hand kids over to same-sex married couples. The question in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia is whether the city has infringed on the Catholic agency’s religious liberty.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement explained that because same-sex marriage was legalized and sexual orientation is now protected against most forms of discrimination, this is a matter of looming concern when it comes to religious liberty. “That issue is kind of lurking behind the scenes and is an issue that the Court will have to resolve one of these days, one way or the other,” he said.

Affordable Care Act. In the consolidated cases of Texas v. California and California v. Texas, the justices will decide if the individual mandate that forced Americans to get health insurance is unconstitutional. And if they rule it is, they must decide whether that then kills the entire Affordable Care Act.

Senate Democrat Dick Durbin says it will, stating, “That case, filed by 14 Republican attorneys general and the Trump administration, will eliminate the Affordable Care Act. Not change it. Eliminate it.”

Most legal scholars don’t agree, because they say this case about the Individual mandate has little chance of actually destroying the whole Obamacare law. If the justices rule against the mandate, they’ll likely use what’s called the severability doctrine and sever the ruling against the mandate from harming the rest of Obamacare.

Election result. Until there’s a Senate vote on the nominee, the Supreme Court is split 4-4. That could cause real trouble if the presidential election is contested and the court has to basically pick the president as it did in Bush v. Gore back in 2000.

Abortion. No abortion cases are on the docket now, but that could change. Two cases loom on the horizon. One involves whether Mississippi can ban abortions from 15 weeks on. The other would decide whether it’s an undue burden during a pandemic to require women to see a doctor in person to get the drugs needed for a medication abortion.

Visit the Supreme Court’s website HERE.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice