by Jess Bravin at The Wall Street Journal
The Supreme Court returns to the bench Monday for a term that conservative activists hope will bring new constraints on federal power, from how it regulates financial institutions and environmental protection to what revenue sources Congress can tap to replenish the Treasury.
The justices will also consider whether Second Amendment gun rights extend to domestic abusers under restraining orders, whether South Carolina discriminated against Black voters in drawing its congressional districts, and whether Purdue Pharma’s $6 billion settlement of opioid lawsuits can move forward.
While none of the cases on the docket so far packs the visceral—or political—punch of issues that dominated recent terms such as affirmative action and abortion rights, the focus on federal power could have far-reaching consequences. Conservative justices are skeptical of 20th-century precedents that gave federal agencies broad discretion to adopt regulations furthering protections for consumers, workers and the environment, typically at the expense of business interests.
“It’s really about the breadth of power being exercised at the federal level across the board, but in particular with administrative agencies in the executive branch,” Jennifer Mascott, a professor at Antonin Scalia Law School, said at a recent panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute. Conservative justices are weighing whether “there needs to be a correction,” she said.
A different constellation of cases involves constitutional rights in social media,…