WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee may not have to wait too long for controversial cases if he is confirmed to the job, with disputes involving abortion, immigration, gay rights, voting rights and transgender troops possibly heading toward the justices soon.
Republicans are hoping Brett Kavanaugh, the conservative U.S. appeals court judge selected on Monday by Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, will be confirmed by the Senate before the next Supreme Court term opens in October.
There are no blockbusters among the 38 cases already on the docket for the justices, but they could add disputes on controversial issues being appealed from lower courts.
Legal battles are developing over state laws restricting abortion including one in Arkansas that effectively bans medication-induced abortions. The justices in May opted not to intervene in a case challenging that law, waiting instead for lower courts to rule, but it could return to them in the future.
Other abortion-related cases could reach the court within two years.
These involve laws banning abortions at early stages of pregnancies, including Iowa’s prohibition after a fetal heartbeat is detected. There is litigation arising from plans by certain states including Louisiana and Kansas to stop reimbursements under the Medicaid insurance program for the poor for Planned Parenthood, a national abortion provider.
There also are challenges to state laws imposing difficult-to-meet regulations on abortion providers such as having formal ties, called admitting privileges, at a local hospital.
Kavanaugh’s judicial record on abortion is thin, although last year he was on a panel of judges that issued an order preventing a 17-year-old illegal immigrant detained in Texas by U.S. authorities from immediately obtaining an abortion.