A Full Plate for the Fall
Should Judge John G. Roberts be confirmed by the Senate in time for the upcoming Supreme Court term, he will join a court that's already facing a challenging fall docket of hot-button social issues. Among the cases to be heard:
Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The court's first major abortion-rights case in five years will review a New Hampshire law prohibiting abortions for minors whose parents have not been notified. The law allows for exceptions if an abortion would prevent a mother's death and if a judge says the minor is mature enough to make such a decision. The case doesn't threaten to overturn Roe v. Wade, but the ruling might signal how the court will weigh other restrictions on abortion.
Gonzales v. Oregon. The Bush administration has challenged Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, a law allowing physician-assisted suicide. The Justice Department has said doctors have no "legitimate medical purpose" in prescribing federally controlled drugs to help terminally ill patients commit suicide.
Rumsfeld v. FAIR. The court will decide whether the government can withhold federal money from colleges that restrict military recruiting on campus. Colleges argue that the military's ban on openly gay men and women violates their own nondiscrimination policies. The government says that by limiting the military's access, colleges have hampered recruiting, particularly at law schools.
House v. Bell. A Tennessee death penalty case will help determine the standards of proof that must be met for a prisoner to be granted a new trial. The case centers on DNA evidence that was not available when Paul House was convicted two decades ago; his lawyers say it proves he is innocent.
This story appears in the August 1, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.