First Monday in October: What’s On the Agenda for the New SCOTUS Term, Including Ted Cruz

The Supreme Court’s new term begins every year on the first Monday of October. Despite Justice Brett Kavanaugh testing positive for COVID-19 last week, the remaining judges will convene as scheduled on Monday, October 5th. The justices face a full docket of hot-button issues such as abortion, gun rights, taxpayer funding of religious schools, the Boston Marathon bombing, and more, and their decisions will have a deep and lasting impact.

On Thursday, the high court added five new cases to its calendar for the term that begins next week, among them a challenge to federal election law brought by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.


Cruz, a former Supreme Court clerk, loaned his campaign $260,000 during his successful 2018 bid for reelection when he defeated Beto O’Rourke. Cruz was ultimately repaid all but $10,000. The express purpose of the loan was to challenge the law. Cruz’s challenge involves rules about repaying a candidate for federal office who loans his or her campaign money. Under the law, a campaign can repay the candidate up to $250,000 with money collected after the election. Cruz argues that the current rules deter candidates from loaning money to their campaigns in violation of the Constitution. A three-judge panel unanimously sided with Cruz, and the Biden administration asked the court to take the case.

Among the other cases, the court also agreed to hear an appeal from the heirs of a German Jewish woman and a San Diego Jewish organization in their quest to recover a valuable painting by Camille Pissarro that was initially taken by the Nazis and now hangs in an art museum in Madrid. In another case, the justices will review a Christian organization’s plea to have its flag displayed on a flag pole at Boston’s City Hall. Live audio of the arguments will continue to be available to the public through at least December, the court has said, though one change is that members of the public will be able to go directly to the court’s website to hear it instead of needing to find it through media outlets.

On Friday, the court held a ceremonial swearing-in for Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was confirmed in October 2000 following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The ceremony was delayed because of the pandemic.

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