News / USA

US Supreme Court Starts New Term

FILE - Detail of the West Facade of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington.
FILE - Detail of the West Facade of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington.
VOA News
The U.S. government shutdown is not affecting the country's Supreme Court, which on Monday starts a new term that will include challenges to campaign donation limits, prayer at public meetings and limits on protests at abortion clinics.

Justices will hear arguments Tuesday in the campaign finance case, which challenges current law restricting the total amount of money individuals can give to candidates, parties and political action committees for each election.

The challenger says the law limits the number of candidates he can support, and is no longer necessary to prevent fraud. The government disagrees, saying he can support candidates in many other ways and that lifting the limits will open the door for new ways to influence politicians.

The court issued a major campaign finance ruling in 2010, saying that corporations and unions can spend an unlimited amount of money supporting or opposing candidates, as long as they were not coordinating those efforts with the candidates.

Recess appointments

In another case with political implications, the court will decide whether President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he used recess appointments to fill spots on a labor board. An appeals court ruled in January that he did, and the administration is trying to overturn that ruling.

The decision could jeopardize hundreds of decisions made by the National Labor Relations Board since Obama appointed three new members in 2012, including some that have made it easier for unions to organize. The case has been seen as a test of the president's ability to bypass the Senate's role in confirming appointees.

Religion

Next month, the court will hear arguments in a case dealing with whether a town in New York state violated constitutional bans on government establishment of religion by allowing volunteers to say a prayer before town meetings.

The court will also consider a Massachusetts law that says anti-abortion protesters must stay at least 35 feet, or 10.67 meters, away from abortion clinics in order to limit their interaction with patients. It upheld a similar "buffer zone" law from the state of Colorado in 2000, but several new justices have joined the court since then.

The Supreme Court has nine justices who consider written and oral arguments by both sides in each case, as well as briefs submitted to the court by outside parties who think the decision will affect them. The justices then gather to vote in a private meeting and write opinions detailing their reasoning for how they ruled in the case. Those decisions are announced later in an open session.

The court begins a new term on the first Monday of October and issues the last of its rulings before going on recess at the end of June.

You May Like

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to the Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid