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Though the current Supreme Court term only started on October 6, the court has already issued orders on two controversial issues and started hearing oral arguments for many other important cases.
Though the court struck down Wisconsin’s voter ID law for the upcoming midterm elections, they handed down emergency orders that upheld North Carolina’s and Texas’ voter ID laws. The North Carolina law prohibits voting and registering on the same day and does not count votes that were cast in the wrong polling place. According to SCOTUSblog, it was also found to significantly impact African Americans’ voting opportunities by a lower appeals court. Though the law may be overturned on appeal in the future, it could impact close races such as the Senate race between Senator Kay Hagan (D) and State House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), as the two were tied or Kagan had a lead within the margin of error in the latest polls. In the Texas case, Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Kagan dissented, and while no reasoning was given in support of the order, Ginsburg wrote in the dissenting opinion that the law “imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.”
Aside from voter ID laws, the court also stopped the enforcement of parts of a Texas abortion law. As of now, Texas cannot require that abortion clinics be the equivalent of hospital surgical centers to operate, which will allow 13 clinics previously shut down to be reopened.
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Will the Supreme Court one day rule on same-sex marriage nationwide? Suddenly the answer is looking to be no. In a surprise move, the Supreme Court today announced they “let stand appeals court rulings allowing such unions in five states.” Via The New York Times:
The decision to let the appeals court rulings stand, which came without explanation in a series of brief orders, will almost immediately increase the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 24, along with the District of Columbia. The impact of the move will in short order be even broader.
Monday’s orders let stand decisions from three federal appeals courts with jurisdiction over six other states that ban same-sex marriage: Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Those appeals courts will almost certainly follow their own precedents to strike down those additional bans as well, meaning the number of states with same-sex marriage should soon climb to 30.