WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court’s next term kicks off Monday and while there are plenty of important cases on the horizon, all eyes will also be on Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
There is speculation the 81-year-old judge could be retiring this term and that would give President Trump the rare opportunity to appoint yet another Supreme Court Justice.
Trump’s first appointment, Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed in April. This will be Justice Gorsuch's first full term.
The high court will be taking on a number of cases conservatives will be watching closely this term, including a landmark case on religious freedom.
Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
This case pits supporters for religious liberty versus gay-rights advocates. The argument at hand is whether or not Jack Phillips, the owner of the Colorado based Masterpiece Cakeshop, can be sanctioned for refusing to make a cake celebrating a wedding for a same-sex couple.
It all comes down to a battle over his First Amendment rights versus the state’s anti-discrimination law.
Carpenter v. The United States
The right to privacy and the government’s ability to track peoples’ movements is at the center of this battle. The dispute involves the government’s ability to get a court order to search the cell site records of a robbery suspect. Those cell-site records allowed the government to see the suspect’s location around the time of the robberies. The outcome will likely extend to other areas that could be used for surveillance including email and credit card records.
Gill v. Whitford
This case tackles the controversy surrounding political gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is when political maps are redrawn for partisan gain. Democrats have long accused those on the right of using gerrymandering to slant the outcome of elections. The dispute is over Wisconsin’s redistricting maps. According to SCOTUS blog, in 2010 the redistricting maps, usually drawn by the federal courts, were instead redrawn by a Republican led legislature. A retired law professor, William Whitford brought the case before the courts and accused the state of partisan gerrymandering. The high court will decide if and how to rule on these types of cases.