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Understanding the Courts

How Does the Supreme Court Work?

The U.S. Supreme Court acts as the protector and interpreter of the Constitution. The nine Supreme Court justices remain the final arbiters of the law, charged with ensuring the American people receive the promise of equal justice under the law.

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Notable Cases in the 2022-2023 Term

University Admissions

Under Court precedents, institutions of higher education may use race as one among many factors in an individualized and holistic review of each candidate for admission, in order to help achieve the educational benefits that come from a broadly diverse student body. This case tests whether the Court should overrule or narrow this long-standing standard.


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Voting Rights

In the wake of the 2020 census, Alabama enacted a map for its seven congressional districts. The map included just one district where racial minorities constituted a majority, even though Black residents constitute 27 percent of Alabama’s population, and even though the state could have drawn a second majority-minority district using traditional districting criteria. Plaintiffs sued, arguing that the districting scheme violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.


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Election Law

In November 2021, the North Carolina legislature adopted a new map for its congressional districts. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the map violated the state constitution; however, and pursuant to state law, a lower state court issued a temporary replacement map. State legislative leaders and other state officials challenged the state-courts’ power to override the legislature’s congressional map, arguing that the state-courts’ actions violated the Elections Clause in the U.S. Constitution.


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Student Loan Forgiveness

To ensure that federal student loan borrowers were not in a worse position as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the secretary of education granted up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness to eligible federal student loan borrowers. Six states and two student loan borrowers, who did not qualify for maximum relief, sued in separate lawsuits, arguing that the secretary lacked authority for his action. The secretary countered that the plaintiffs lacked standing, and that relief was authorized by the federal Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003, the HEROES Act.


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Other Notable Cases

Reproductive Rights at the U.S. Supreme Court

For over 30 years, the ABA has taken an active role in engaging lawyers and educating the public on the role of the courts in defining these rights and access. Learn more about ABA policies and statements here.

Career and Professional Development Resources

Tips and resources for law practice related to the Supreme Court, including litigation, advocacy and judicial clerkships.

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On the Docket

Looking at the Supreme Court Term

A Zoom webinar exploring the 2022-2023 term of the Court, which is shaping up to be another blockbuster. Sponsored by the WCL Program on Law & Government and the American Bar Association Division for Public Education.