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Cardinal Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl speak with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts on the steps of the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle after the 60th annual Red Mass in Washington on Sunday Sept. 30, 2012. The Red Mass is held traditionally in Washington the day before the Supreme Court’s new term opens. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

U.S. Supreme Court

On October 1, the U.S. Supreme Court begins a new term that is shaping up to be as important as the last one, with the prospect of major rulings about affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights.