The Supreme Court just issued its biggest rulings of the year. Here’s what you need to know.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court just finished issuing its biggest decisions of the term, killing President Joe Biden’s $400 billion plan to cancel or reduce federal student loan debts, ending affirmative action in higher education and issuing a major decision that impacts gay rights. The decisions over the past week cap off a term that began in October in which the justices also considered big issues involving voting rights and religion.

The court will next meet in the fall to resume hearing cases. Here are a number of things to know about the Supreme Court’s most recent term:

The court has a solid six-justice conservative majority but ultimately issued some decisions in which the most conservative position did not win. That surprised some court watchers

In four major cases, conservative and liberal justices joined to reject the most aggressive legal arguments advanced by conservative state elected officials and advocacy groups. Those included decisions on voting, a Native American child welfare law and a Biden administration immigration policy.

On voting rights, for example, the justices rejected a Republican-led effort to weaken a landmark voting rights law. Instead, they ruled in favor of Black voters in Alabama in a congressional redistricting case. The state, where more than one in four voters is Black, will now have to redraw its congressional districts in a way that gives Black voters more power. The decision was 5-4 with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining the court’s three liberals.

Separately, while the justices just last year overturned Roe v. Wade and allowed states to ban abortion, the court in April rejected a conservative-led effort to get a drug used in the most common method of abortion pulled from the market. The justices allowed the drug, mifepristone, to stay on the market for now while a lawsuit proceeds.

While there were surprises among the justices’ rulings, conservatives still won big. On affirmative action, they achieved a long-desired victory. While the court had narrowly upheld race-conscious college admissions programs in the past 20 years, including as recently as 2016, a conservative wing of the court strengthened by three appointees of former President Donald Trump struck down the practice 6-3.

Similarly, on student loans, the court split 6-3 along ideological lines to kill a signature Biden administration program. Other major rulings where the conservatives won included a 5-4 ruling that sharply limited the federal government’s authority to police water pollution.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS WAS IN CONTROL

 

Chief Justice John Roberts led the court’s biggest rulings, writing the majority opinions on student loans, affirmative action and voting cases from North Carolina and Alabama. Last year, the five conservatives to Roberts’ right formed majorities to sometimes act more aggressively than the chief justice wanted, including overturning Roe v. Wade without his vote. Roberts’ more narrow position in the case would have instead cut back on abortion rights.

As chief, Roberts gets to decide who writes the majority opinion in cases where he’s in agreement. This time, he assigned those major opinions to himself, ensuring that his hand was steering the court.

JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON MADE HER VOICE HEARD

The court’s newest justice also wound up being its most vocal. Jackson began her first term on the court in October, and it was clear early on that she would be an active participant in arguments. Over the course of the term’s 59 arguments, she spoke some 78,800 words, far more than the next most voluble justice, according to research by Adam Feldman and Jake Truscott.

Like her colleagues, Jackson wrote about a half a dozen majority opinions this term. Her first came in a dispute between states over unclaimed money while her most significant may have been a 7-2 ruling in which the court declined to broadly limit the right to sue government workers. She also authored a number of dissents, including one in the affirmative action in which Jackson, the court’s first Black woman, accused her colleagues in the majority of “let-them-eat-cake obliviousness.”

Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

US Hispanics are now the largest ethnic minority in the United States numbering 54.2 million as of July 2014. Serving: Buffalo, Rochester, Fredonia, Niagara Falls, NY and Erie, PA. Outside our Market area: Visit our affiliate at: http://www.impremedia.com/

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