The U.S. Supreme Court opened a new term Monday. As always, many of the most contentious issues facing the country — including abortion, birth control coverage, public employee unions, affirmative action in higher education, voter participation — are likely to be before the court. Here are five cases to watch. More:
  1. Public Unions (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association)
    Does requiring employees who are not members of a union to pay their "fair share" to cover contract negotiations they benefit from violate their free speech rights?
  2. 1 Person, 1 Vote Principle (Evenwel v. Abbott)
    Should state legislative districts have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters? Does the population count include children, noncitizen immigrants, and others like those with a criminal record who are thus ineligible to vote.
  3. Abortion Regulations
    The abortion test case will likely come from Texas, where the Republican-controlled Legislature enacted strict new regulations on abortion clinics, maintaining that they would protect the health and safety of women. Abortion providers, backed by major medical organizations, counter that the regulations are in fact aimed at making abortions difficult to obtain.
  4. Birth Control And Obamacare
    A test of the Obamacare provision that exempts religious organizations from having to pay for birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. Religiously affiliated organizations such as universities and hospitals argue that having to notify the federal government of their objections, which triggers a mechanism to provide the coverage to some employees, makes them complicit in facilitating birth control coverage and thus violates their religious principles.
  5. Affirmative Action (Fisher v. University of Texas)
    Brought by a white applicant, Abigail Fisher, who was rejected by the University of Texas at Austin, this case considers the validity of considering race and ethnicity in college admissions.