2021 Supreme Court Session: Abortion and Arms


Taken in 1989, Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) and her lawyer stand on the steps of the Supreme Court. Her landmark case in American history, Roe v. Wade, is threatened to be overturned this fall.

On Monday, October 4, the Supreme Court returned in person to commence the 2021 term. The October session is now underway, and the Court is immediately frontloading the discussion of many controversial issues surrounding the rights of the individual; the Court will be taking on major pivotal issues in American politics such as abortion, religious rights, gun rights, and healthcare.

The Court currently has a six-to-three Republican majority. In several cases prior to the October term, such as ruling in favor of a Catholic civil service agency’s refusal to work with same-sex couples, it has shown the strength of its right-wing leaning especially when concerning the rights of the individual. 

According to the New York Times, this set of justices is most likely to vote in unison than those over the past 80 years. With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year, the even split of ideologies was made more unpredictable when Justice Barrett took her place, creating a conservative majority in the Court.

On December 1, the Court will be hearing a challenge to the Mississippi ban on abortions past the fifteenth week of pregnancy. This holds major significance because it will challenge some of the Court’s previous landmark decisions in abortion rights such as Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. In Roe v. Wade, the Court decided that the decision to have an abortion belongs to the individual rather than the government, however that case was decided in 1973 and the current Court has new Justices entirely. The recent Texas ban on abortion is also slated to be brought to the Supreme Court after the Fifth Circuit’s Court of Appeals refused to block the law.

Another polarizing issue the Court will be discussing this term is the right to bear arms—more specifically outside the home. Petitioners argue that a New York law requiring that applicants meet standards set by the law’s “proper clause” in order to apply for the right to carry a concealed weapon in public violates their Second Amendment right to bear arms. The Court plans to hear arguments for this case on November 3.

In addition to these issues, the court will also soon be discussing religion in schools—specifically aid given to religious schools by the government—and alleged discrimination against HIV-positive people by their health insurance providers. Most of these cases are all slated for the last two months of this year.

As each discussed issue receives a ruling, there will undoubtedly be a surge of protest from the losing side of the case because of the intensity and impactfulness of the issues. Until next October when the session ends, issues like abortion and the right to bear arms will remain on the hot plate in American politics.