Immigration, abortion, race rulings due
at Supreme Court
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[June 21, 2016]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.
Supreme Court is heading into its home stretch, with major rulings due
by the end of the month on President Barack Obama's unilateral
immigration plan, racial preferences in university admissions and a
restrictive Texas abortion law.
Producing decisive rulings has been complicated by the fact that
the court has been down one justice since conservative Antonin
Scalia died in February, leaving it evenly split with four
conservatives and four liberals.
The justices also are set to rule on whether to overturn Republican
former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell's 2014 corruption
conviction, one of the 13 cases yet to be decided.
The court appeared divided along ideological lines when it heard
arguments on April 18 over whether Democrat Obama exceeded his
constitutional powers in bypassing the Republican-led Congress with
a 2014 plan to spare millions of immigrants in the country illegally
from deportation and give them work permits.
Twenty-six states led by Republican-governed Texas brought the
lawsuit. A 4-4 ruling, which appeared to be one possibility after
the arguments, would deal Obama a huge defeat because it would
affirm a lower-court ruling invalidating the plan.
Split rulings do not set nationwide legal precedents, but a 4-4
decision would effectively kill Obama's immigration plan.
The court also seemed split along ideological lines during March 2
arguments in a challenge to a Texas abortion law brought by abortion
providers backed by the Obama administration.
A 4-4 ruling would deliver a victory to Texas because it would
affirm a lower-court ruling upholding the law. Because such a ruling
would set no nationwide precedent, it might not serve as a legal
blueprint for other conservative, Republican-dominated states to
enact similar laws.
The question before the justices is whether the law, which imposes
strict regulations on abortion doctors and clinic facilities,
violates a woman's constitutional right to abortion as established
in the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
[to top of second column]
President and CEO of Whole Women's Health Amy Hagstrom Miller (L)
holds up her fist as she descends the steps of the U.S. Supreme
Court with President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights
Nancy Northup after the court took up a major abortion case focusing
on whether a Texas law that imposes strict regulations on abortion
doctors and clinic buildings interferes with the constitutional
right of a woman to end her pregnancy in Washington March 2, 2016.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
There cannot be a 4-4 ruling in a challenge by a white woman,
enlisted by a conservative legal activist, to a University of Texas
student admissions policy giving preferences to racial minorities in
a program aimed at fostering campus racial diversity. Only seven
justices heard that case.
Liberal Elena Kagan, the Obama administration's solicitor general
when it supported the university in earlier litigation, recused
herself. That means four conservatives and three liberals will
decide the case. Conservative justices expressed reservations about
the affirmative action admissions policy during Dec. 9 arguments.
(Editing by Will Dunham)
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