Supreme Court begins first full term with Neil Gorsuch

On April 10, 2017, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., administered the Constitutional Oath to the Honorable Neil M. Gorsuch in a private ceremony attended by the Justices of the Supreme Court and members of the Gorsuch family. The oath was administered in the Justices’ Conference Room at the Supreme Court Building. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., administers the Constitutional Oath to Judge Neil M. Gorsuch in the Justices’ Conference Room, Supreme Court Building. Mrs. Louise Gorsuch holds the Bible.

The Supreme Court began a new session Oct. 2 — the first full term with President Donald Trump’s newly-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch. Following the death of Anton Scalia in 2016, the court had been operating with only eight justices, four liberal and four conservative, after the majority-Republican Senate refused to appoint President Barack Obama’s nomination, Merrick Garland. With Gorsuch on the court, conservatives have a 5-4 advantage over liberal-leaning justices.

The Court dismissed a major part of Trump’s travel on several majority Muslim countries Oct. 10 because of his new version of the ban. This revision was signed on Sept. 24, replacing a temporary ban on six countries to an indefinite ban on eight countries, according to USA Today. These eight countries are five from the original versions: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

This decision strikes down a case begun by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Maryland. Another case that began in Hawaii against the travel ban has been filed, according to USA Today.

Another large issue at stake this session is gerrymandering, the redistricting of voting districts to benefit one political party or interest group over another.

Democratic voters in Wisconsin have claimed that electoral districts have unfairly benefitted Republicans, according to CNN. Trump won Wisconsin in the 2016 election over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by 0.8 percent of the vote, according to CNN.

A similar case on gerrymandering has been filed in Maryland by Republicans, according to CNN.

Several politicians have acknowledged the issue of partisan gerrymandering, including Obama, as well as leading Republican figures, Senator John McCain and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Other issues involve the struggle between religious liberty and LGBT rights. At the center of a case in this area is Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado.

Phillips refused to make a cake in 2012 for the wedding of a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs, according to CNN. Opponents say this is an issue of discrimination against LGBT people.

Some are also advocating for the Court to strike down the 2016 Mississippi law passed by Governor Rick Bryant that would allow workers and businesses to refuse services to LGBT people, on the basis of religious beliefs, according to the Seattle Times.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had some predictions of her own for the upcoming term at an event at Georgetown Law, according to CNN.

“There is only one prediction that is entirely safe about the upcoming term, and that is it will be momentous,” she said.

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