Health care, abortion, guns and religious liberty — some of the most divisive issues in the United States — will be on the docket as the Supreme Court prepares to start a new term in early October with only eight justices.
Should US President Donald Trump successfully appoint a ninth justice following the death of liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court’s slant will become heavily conservative.
– Obamacare –
After failing to torpedo in Congress the huge health care reforms passed by former president Barack Obama, which has extended coverage for millions of Americans, President Donald Trump is counting on the Supreme Court to kill the bill, something he promised to do on the campaign trail in 2016.
Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as the reform bill is officially known, is one of several key issues hanging in the balance in the November 3 election.
The text of the bill has already been scrutinized by the Supreme Court, which backed it by a small majority. It is due to go back to the Court again on November 10, a week after the election.
Without Ginsburg’s progressive vote, Obamacare could be scrapped entirely, including the obligation for insurers to cover pre-existing medical conditions.
– Abortion –
The other goal of the Republican administration is to overturn the historic Roe v. Wade ruling that in 1973 legalized abortion.
Once for abortion rights, Trump is now an avowed opponent. The topic is close to the hearts of his religious-right base.
In recent years, several conservative states have been working to undermine the ruling, making it difficult for women to have access to abortions. Until now, the Supreme Court has blocked all of these efforts.
If Trump manages to push his candidate through, there will be a majority of six conservative justices out of nine on the bench, and the anti-abortion lobby will have more room to maneuver in its constant push to finally end Roe v. Wade.
– Guns –
Trump has pledged to defend the Second Amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms.
Some Americans want to see controls on gun sales and an outright ban on semi-automatic assault rifles that have been used in multiple mass shootings.
The Democrat-run state of Virginia recently voted to limit gun sales and strengthen background checks for buyers.
But millions of gun owners, as well as the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group, are fiercely opposed to any federal regulation on firearm sales.
Until now, the court has been reluctant to wade into the debate, declining to study the different cases sent before it. But here again, a strong conservative majority could swing any future decisions in favor of gun owners.
– Religious freedom –
Religious freedom versus gay rights has become a hot-button issue in recent years, with the court showing itself more conservative on the subject. It ruled in favor of a Christian baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his religious convictions.
In November, the court will hear arguments from a Catholic adoption agency which had its license pulled by the city of Philadelphia for refusing to take on gay couples.
– Elections –
In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, people in several states are already allowed to cast their votes, be it via early voting or mail-in ballots, and the question of the outcome of the bitterly fought November 3 election is uppermost in the minds of most Americans.
Yet Trump has been undermining confidence in the process for months, warning without proof of fraud and saying the only way he could lose is if the election is rigged.
Crucially, it is the Supreme Court which will settle any claims about a disputed outcome, as it did in Florida in 2000 when it decided in favor of Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore a month after the election.
WATCH: Former Trump voters explain what sent them over the edge — and got them to back Biden
HuffPost reporter Daniel Marans talked with voters Tuesday outside the Luzerne County building in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, ahead of President Donald J. Trump's rally in the state. The line for early voting was about an hour long with most of the queue being held inside. Marans reported that, "People also have questions/requests. But you can drop off a pre-completed absentee ballot in the blue box."
Trump’s strategy against Joe Biden and the coronavirus is to increasingly accept defeat: columnist
In an op-ed for the New York Times this Tuesday, Ross Douthat says that the Trump administration is beginning to see the writing on the wall as Election Day grows closer.
According to Douthat, Trump's 2020 campaign "has been stuck toggling back and forth between two very different narratives."
"One seeks to replay the last campaign, portraying Joe Biden as the embodiment of a failed establishment (hence all the references to his 47 years in Washington) who will sell out American interests to China as soon as he’s back in power," he writes.
The other is Trump apparently insistence in running against Joe Biden as if he's Bernie Sanders. While a skilled campaigner could have weaved these narratives together, their contradictions are more obvious when coming from Trump. "The resulting incoherence just feeds his tendency to return to old grudges and very online grievances, as though he’s running for the presidency of talk radio or his own Twitter feed," writes Douthat.
Trump declared war on mail-in voting — he ended up shooting himself in the foot
Donald Trump's war on mail-in voting seems, like many of his schemes to steal the election, to be backfiring.
As much as he may publicly deny it, Trump knows he's unpopular and cannot win a free and fair election. So he has determined that the best way to hang onto power is to keep as many Americans from voting as possible. Since nearly the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has been waging war against mail-in ballots, which many millions of Americans are using this year in order to avoid crowded and unsafe polling places.