Patt Morrison for October 3, 2011

First day of Supreme Court term, the hot-button debates begin


Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

People wait to enter outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC in March. The Court hears oral argument in the case of Davis v United States.

The 2011-12 Supreme Court term begins today, and there are more than a few hot-button issues on the agenda. The case that’s likely to dominate the others is that of President Obama’s health care law.

With 26 states having filed appeals to the law, the justices will review whether or not it is constitutional to mandate that most Americans carry health insurance. Obama has asked that the Supreme Court fast-track the case, and it is unclear how the justices will rule. The Obama administration has also asked the justices to rule on the constitutionality of Arizona and several other states’ touch immigration laws intended to deport undocumented immigrants. In addition, the Court will likely look at two gay marriage cases: a Boston federal district court that partially struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and a California federal district court that ruled that an initiative to ban same-sex marriage violates the Constitution. Other cases will ask the justices whether or not police should be able to secretly attach GPS tracking devices to suspects’ cars, whether race should be used in college admissions and what rights same-sex adoptive parents should have. Patt reviews the cases on the docket for the year and asks you to weigh in.


Adam Liptak, Supreme Court reporter for The New York Times.

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