Supreme Court's new term will include cases involving abortion drugs, guns and social media

The Supreme Court building.
The Supreme Court building. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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The Supreme Court’s new term, which began on Monday, will include cases on a number of contentious issues such as access to guns and abortion drugs, as well as whether states can limit moderation by social media platforms.

The new term comes at a time when the court finds itself under increased scrutiny over what critics say is a pattern of ethical lapses among some of its justices. In the latest example, Justice Clarence Thomas reportedly attended private fundraisers for conservative causes hosted by the billionaire Koch brothers.

Here’s a guide to the key cases the court will hear this term as well as the controversy over its lack of ethical oversight.

Read more on Yahoo News: As new term begins, Supreme Court faces fallout from its rightward shift, from Politico

Guns for accused domestic abusers

A man handles a gun in a gun store in Delray Beach, Fla.
A gun store in Delray Beach, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In June 2022, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned a New York state law that required gun owners to show “proper cause” if they wanted to obtain a concealed-carry permit.

Based on that ruling, a federal law prohibiting someone with a domestic violence restraining order against them from owning guns was overturned by an appeals court.

The Biden administration appealed that ruling, and the high court has scheduled arguments for November.

Read more on Yahoo News: Supreme Court begins new term with battles over agency power, guns and online speech, from CBS News

Medication abortion

Packets of mifepristone and misoprostol abortion pills.
Mifepristone and misoprostol abortion pills. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

In June 2022 the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, opening the door for state legislatures to pass tighter abortion restrictions, including near-total bans. But some conservative activists want the courts to go further and outlaw abortion unilaterally.

On April 7, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, revoked FDA approval of mifepristone, a drug used to induce abortions. The Biden administration appealed that ruling, and the Supreme Court agreed to block it from taking effect until the appeals are resolved. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito voted to let the ban take effect immediately — an indication that there are at least two votes in favor of upholding Kacsmaryk’s decision. Although the case is currently in front of the Fifth Circuit, experts expect it will soon be on the high court’s docket.

Social media content moderation

The Supreme Court agreed last Friday to hear challenges to laws in Texas and Florida that limit the power of platforms like Facebook and YouTube to moderate content. The laws were passed by Republican legislators who believe conservatives are unfairly targeted by rules disallowing misinformation and hate speech.

Read more on Yahoo News: Future of social media headed for Supreme Court

“These cases could completely reshape the digital public sphere," Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, told USA Today. "It's difficult to think of any other recent First Amendment cases in which the stakes were so high.”

Read more on Yahoo News: Supreme Court takes on social media: First Amendment fight over 'censorship' is on the docket, from USA Today

Consumer protection

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Democrats created under President Barack Obama — with strong opposition from Republicans — to regulate consumer-finance products like mortgages, draws its funding from the Federal Reserve instead of annual congressional appropriations. A lawsuit successfully convinced a lower court that it is unconstitutional, and supporters fear that will kneecap the agency. The high court is slated to review that ruling.

Read more on Yahoo News: Consumer agency hated by Republicans is in fight of its life at Supreme Court, from Bloomberg

Other possible cases

Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court on Monday. One holds a sign reading: We object to the broken Supreme Court.
Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court on Monday. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A Supreme Court doctrine known as “Chevron deference,” after a 1984 case, gives government agencies wide latitude to interpret the statutes they enforce, much to the consternation of conservatives and many in the business community.

This term the court will hear Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, which concerns a federal rule requiring commercial fishing boat operators to pay for monitors who confirm compliance with fishing limits. Legal observers say the court may overturn the Chevron ruling, which would limit regulatory power across the federal government.

Read more on Yahoo News: The massive Supreme Court case you’ve probably never heard of

Court ethics

Prior to the recent reporting on Thomas’s connection to the Koch brothers, ProPublica reported that right-wing billionaire Harlan Crow had, for years, paid for Thomas’s luxury trips, covered private-school tuition for one of Thomas's relatives and bought property from him — none of which the justice reported in his annual financial disclosures. Judicial ethics experts have criticized Thomas, and Democrats have called for the imposition of an ethics code on the court.

Read more on Yahoo News: 'What are we going to find out next?': Clarence Thomas's shocking ethics scandal 'sickens' experts, from Salon