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Supreme Court to Rule on Several Critical Cases This Term

200352787-001Court watchers are anticipating a busy term for the U.S. Supreme Court as it takes up cases concerning abortion, public prayer, and President Obama's contentious birth control mandate.

The Christian Post is reporting that the Supreme Court will hear several pivotal cases in its current term that will likely impact most Americans in one way or another.

The first case, Town of Greece v. Galloway, deals with the question of whether public prayer held before a town meeting violates the separation of church and state. Oral arguments are scheduled for November 6.

The litigants in the case claim that the town of Greece, New York, is forcing citizens to endure religious indoctrination by having a prayer said before town hall meetings, even though these prayers can be offered by any denomination. Defendants in the case say that prayer before town meetings is a practice put in place by the Founding Fathers and should be allowed to stand.

The Court could rule either way in this case. In 1983, the Justices ruled that the Nebraska state legislature had the right to open its sessions with prayer from a paid Christian chaplain; however, they also ruled in other cases that the government cannot appear to endorse a particular religion.

No matter how the Court rules, this decision is bound to impact the future of public religious expression in the nation.

Two abortion cases are also on the docket. McCullen v. Coakley challenges a Massachusetts law that ensures access for patients at abortion clinics. Opponents of the law say it infringes on the free speech rights of protestors.

In Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, the Court will decide on whether states can limit the use of abortion-inducing drugs such as RU-486. This case could cause a modification in the understanding of the pivotal 1992 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which found that although abortion is legal, states can impose regulations on the industry.

Some abortion supporters fear that a ruling in favor of the litigant, Terry Cline, could grant legislators the power to write "health and safety rules" that some lawmakers could use to make it impossible to obtain an abortion.

An even more high-profile case likely to come before the case this session is that of Hobby Lobby, a for-profit company run by Christians who claim that the government's mandate to provide free contraception and sterilization services to women violates their religious liberty. Because so many lower courts ruled in favor of businesses who are opposing the mandate, the U.S. government appealed to the high court to hear the case and put the matter to rest. There are currently 71 other lawsuits pending against the mandate.

If the high court takes on the Hobby Lobby case, which it is expected to do, it will have to resolve the religious liberty claim one way or the other.

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