Supreme Court Opens Packed Term

Campaign finance and recess appointment power cases on a busy docket

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Karen Bleier / AFP / Getty Images

The Supreme Court opens its new term Monday with lawyers and legal scholars closely watching a number of cases that could change the structure of elections and the balance of power between branches of government.

One of the most hotly anticipated cases is National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning. At issue is the president’s ability to use recess appointments to sidestep confirmation in the Senate. The high court will also hear McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which questions the constitutionality of rules capping the total amount individuals can contribute to federal elections. At stake is a decades-old precedent limiting contributions to candidates and political parties.

The court will hear the campaign finance case on Oct. 8, followed by the most recent challenge to affirmative action. Later in the fall, the justices will also hear a case over prayer in public meetings, challenges to whether states can limit the use of abortion-inducing drugs, and whether employers must provide insurance coverage that includes contraception under the new health care law.