On guns, abortion, US SC could become more conservative under Barrett

Updated: 28 September, 2020 09:39 IST | Agencies | Washington

Chief Justice John Roberts, who has on occasion sided with four liberal judgess, would also likely become less able to steer the outcome in divisive cases

President Donald Trump walks with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, in the Rose Garden at the White House, on Saturday. Pic/AP
President Donald Trump walks with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, in the Rose Garden at the White House, on Saturday. Pic/AP

If Congress confirms President Donald Trump's nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court would become more conservative, and also perhaps more ready to tackle certain hot-button issues like abortion and guns. Chief Justice John Roberts, who has on occasion sided with four liberal judgess, would also likely become less able to steer the outcome in divisive cases.

If Trump fills Ginsburg's seat, there will be six conservative justices, three of them appointed by him. Here are several big issues that are poised to come before the justices where a more solidly conservative majority could make a difference:

Healthcare

A week after the presidential election, the court will hear arguments in bid by the Trump administration and Republican-led states to overturn the Obama-era health care law. Amid the pandemic, coverage for more than 20 million people is at stake, along with the law's ban on insurance discrimination against Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. A more conservative court might be seen as more sympathetic to striking down the Affordable Care Act, but the court might still choose not to.

Abortion

Abortion rights advocates would seem to face insurmountable odds winning at the SC without Ginsburg. If a Trump nominee replaces Ginsburg, Roberts' vote on the issue would likely become less decisive. And the addition of another conservative vote would likely spur states to test the boundaries of regulation.

Guns

The SC has for years been reluctant to take on new guns cases, but that could change under a more conservative court. Gun rights advocates had hoped the court might use a case from New York City to expand on landmark decisions that established a right under the Second Amendment to keep a gun at home for self-defence. Instead, the justices ultimately threw out the case, citing changes in city restrictions and state law.

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First Published: 28 September, 2020 08:52 IST

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