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Nina Totenberg

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Updated December 1, 2021 at 5:35 PM ET

The right to an abortion in the United States appeared to be on shaky ground as a divided Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on the fate of Roe v. Wade, the court's 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

An epic argument at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday: At issue is whether to reverse the court's nearly half-century-old Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent decisions declaring that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

Until now, all the court's abortion decisions have upheld Roe's central framework — that women have a constitutional right to an abortion in the first two trimesters of pregnancy when a fetus is unable to survive outside the womb, until roughly between 22 and 24 weeks.

For nearly a half-century, abortion has been a constitutional right in the United States. But this week, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a Mississippi case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade and subsequent decisions.

Those rulings consistently declared that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in the first two trimesters of pregnancy when a fetus is unable to survive outside the womb. But with that abortion right now in doubt, it's worth looking back at its history.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case involving an FBI undercover operation at a mosque in California. Area Muslims are suing the FBI over a nearly year-long surveillance program that, at least publicly, yielded no results and proved a huge embarrassment to the bureau.

How it began

In hindsight, the covert operation unfolded like some sort of black comedy. As Ira Glass reported on This American Life back in 2012, "It is a cautionary tale, a case where we can watch everything go wrong."

Wednesday marks a showdown over guns at the legal O.K. Corral. The Supreme Court hears arguments in its first major gun case in more than a decade, and the new conservative supermajority seems poised to make gun regulation more difficult.

Updated November 1, 2021 at 1:08 PM ET

Abortion rights are front and center at the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, but not the way most people expected. The focus will not be on abortion rights, per se, but on the controversial Texas law designed to prevent court challenges.

Updated October 22, 2021 at 1:40 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review a controversial Texas abortion law on Nov. 1 but refused to block the law while it examines the state's unusual enforcement scheme and whether the Department of Justice has the right to sue to block the law.

This week, just days after the Boston Marathon took place for the first time since the pandemic began, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was sentenced to death for his role in the terrorist bombing of the race in 2013. The question in the case is not Tsarnaev's guilt. It is whether he was properly sentenced to death and whether he had a fair trial.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case testing the limits of public disclosure about the CIA's secret torture program after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The central issue of the case concerns whether a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, who has never been charged with a crime can subpoena testimony from the CIA contractors who supervised his torture.

Abu Zubaydah was the first prisoner held by the CIA to undergo extensive torture.

For the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, Monday marks the first time nearly all of them will gather together in the courtroom since the lockdown a year and a half ago. But if some of the justices greet the new term with great anticipation for a new conservative legal era, others likely are facing the term with dread.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Updated September 20, 2021 at 8:02 PM ET

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Dec. 1 in a case from Mississippi that tests whether all state laws that ban pre-viability abortions are unconstitutional.

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has a warning to those who want to remake the court: Be careful what you wish for.

The Supreme Court's conservative majority tossed a legal bomb into the abortion debate late Wednesday night.

By a vote of 5-to-4, the court's most conservative members upheld, for now, a Texas law that, in effect, bans abortions after about six weeks. But almost as important as the result was how the court reached its decision — without full briefing and arguments before any court.

Updated September 2, 2021 at 12:20 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday night refused to block a Texas law that amounts to a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The vote was 5-4, with three Trump-appointed justices joining two other conservative justices. Dissenting were conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's three liberal justices.

Updated September 1, 2021 at 12:48 PM ET

Legislation banning abortions after about six weeks is now the law of the land in Texas, effectively ending Roe v. Wade protections in the state.

The battle is now joined at the U.S. Supreme Court. This week the state of Mississippi formally asked the high court to reverse its landmark 1973 abortion decision, Roe v. Wade, prompting abortion-rights defenders to say, in effect, "I told you so."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Updated July 1, 2021 at 4:37 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday gutted most of what remains of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The court's decision, while leaving some protections involving redistricting in place, left close to a dead letter the law once hailed as the most effective civil rights legislation in the nation's history.

The 6-3 vote was along ideological lines, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the decision for the court's conservative majority, and the liberals in angry dissent.

Updated June 24, 2021 at 7:41 AM ET

The Supreme Court on Wednesday tightened the leash on union representatives and their ability to organize farmworkers in California and elsewhere.

At issue in the case was a California law that allows union organizers to enter farms to speak to workers during nonworking hours — before and after work, as well as during lunch — for a set a number of days each year.

Updated June 23, 2021 at 12:31 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot always enter a home without a warrant when pursuing someone for a minor crime.

The court sent the case back to the lower court to decide if the police violated the rights of a California man by pursuing him into his garage for allegedly playing loud music while driving down a deserted two-lane highway late at night.

Updated June 23, 2021 at 4:48 PM ET

In a victory for student speech rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a former cheerleader's online F-bombs about her school is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Updated June 21, 2021 at 5:45 PM ET

Faced with the prospect of reshaping college athletics, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a narrow but potentially transformative ruling Monday in a case that pitted college athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

At issue in the case were NCAA rules that limit educational benefits for college players as part of their scholarships.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 5:04 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with Catholic Social Services in a battle that pitted religious freedom against anti-discrimination laws in Philadelphia and across the country. The court declared that the private Catholic agency was entitled to renewal of its contract with the city for screening foster parents, even though the agency violated city law by refusing to consider married LGBTQ couples.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 5:05 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act for the third time on Thursday, leaving in place the broad provisions of the law enacted by Congress in 201o. The vote was 7 to 2.

The opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that some crack cocaine offenders sentenced to harsh prison terms more than a decade ago cannot get their sentences reduced under a federal law adopted with the purpose of doing just that.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to consider a challenge to the men-only military draft.

In an accompanying statement, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh acknowledged that when the draft was originally enacted, women were not eligible for combat roles, a situation that has dramatically changed in modern times.

The Supreme Court's three liberal justices strongly dissented Monday when the court's six-member conservative majority refused to hear an appeal brought by a brain-damaged death row inmate who wants to be executed by firing squad.

Lawyers for convicted killer Ernest Johnson told the court that if Missouri executes him by lethal injection, using the drug pentobarbital, he will suffer "excruciatingly painful" seizures, so painful it would violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Updated May 17, 2021 at 6:14 PM ET

With Roe v. Wade hanging by a thread, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider a major rollback of abortion rights.

It is the second time in weeks that the court's new conservative majority has signaled a willingness to reconsider long-established legal doctrine, this time on abortion, and just weeks ago, on guns.

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