Scalia’s death casts uncertainty on major Supreme Court cases awaiting rulings

FILE - In this June 30, 2014 file photo, the Supreme Court building in Washington. The Supreme Court has upheld a 4-year-old federal program that pays large electric customers to save energy during times of peak demand. The justices ruled 6-2 on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had the authority to issue directives aimed at conserving energy and preventing blackouts. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Some of the major cases heard or scheduled to be heard this term by the Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia’s death casts uncertainty on the court’s term. No rulings have been issued in any of these cases.

VOTING RIGHTS

The court heard a case in December about the constitutional requirement to make electoral districts roughly equal in population. Two voters in Texas asked the court to order a drastic change in the way states divide their electoral districts. Rather than basing the maps on total population, including noncitizens and children who aren’t old enough to vote, states must count only people who are eligible to vote, the challengers argue.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

The court in December weighed whether it was time to end the use of race in college admissions at the University of Texas and nationwide. Justice Elena Kagan sat out the case because she worked on it at an earlier stage when she was at the Justice Department.

CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE

In a case argued in November, faith-based hospitals, colleges and charities objected to the process the Obama administration had devised to spare them from paying for contraceptives for women covered under their health plans while ensuring that those women can obtain birth control at no extra cost. The groups complain that they remain complicit in making available the contraceptives in violation of their religious beliefs.

UNION FEES

The court heard arguments in January in a California case that asks whether government workers who choose not to join a union can still be required to pay fees that cover collective bargaining. Unions fear the potential loss of tens of millions of dollars in fees could reduce their power to bargain for higher wages and benefits for government employees.

ABORTION SERVICES

The court planned to hear arguments in March over a Texas law that would leave only about 10 abortion clinics open across the state. The case tests whether tough new standards for clinics and the doctors who work in them are reasonable measures intended to protect women’s health or a pretext designed to make abortions difficult, if not impossible, to obtain.

IMMIGRATION

The court agreed to review whether President Barack Obama, acting without congressional approval, has the power to shield from deportation up to 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and make them eligible to work without fear of being rounded up. The case is scheduled to be argued in April.

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