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OPINION: Controversial U.S. Supreme Court rulings - are you ready?

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

This week the U. S. Supreme Court should render its most controversial decisions in a long time and they're sure to set the social networks ablaze. Not only could the maniacal refreshing of SCOTUSblog.com I'm expecting to see this week change the way Americans live their lives, the methods by which that word will spread will likely make as many headlines as the decisions themselves.

Four major rulings are imminent and revolve around the issues of discrimination and marriage equality. They are emotional issues many have lost and dedicated their lives to fight for or against. They strike a chord with all corners of America and speak to people of all faiths and races, and sometimes in vastly different ways. Our experiences with these issues are visceral. It runs deep. So perhaps more important than the decisions themselves is the way in which we, the people, react to them.

The rulings, which could be revealed as early as 10 a.m. Monday, will be based on court cases that have traveled various paths to land before our highest court. One tackles affirmative action. One dissects voting rights. And two could change the way our states and our nation define marriage.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin will challenge the how the university uses race in its admissions criteria. It seeks to have justices overrule a 2003 decision where the Supreme Court said race "could" play a limited role in public university admissions. If it does, then that could stop affirmative-action policies.

VOTING RIGHTS

Shelby County v. Holder will challenge a portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that requires "preclearance" for any change to a system of voting in districts and states. In a nutshell, preclearance is a process by which the Department of Justice basically gives permission to make the changes, provided they don't discriminate. The process was basically created to prevent districts and states with a history of racial discrimination from making a change to voting procedures without federal approval. The North Carolina General Assembly is currently looking at voter I.D. changes which this decision could affect.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8 are the two driving pieces of legislation taking center stage this week with the high court.

United States v. Windsor asks the court to find Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional. That section defines marriage as between and man and a woman. Though there are same-sex couples "legally" married in the U.S. right now, this article prevents them from federal benefits afforded opposite-sex married couples—breaks on estate taxes, health insurance, Social Security survivor benefits, etc.

Hollingsworth v. Perry is in the high court on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 2008, a three-judge panel ruled California's Proposition 8 (which makes same-sex marriage illegal) was unconstitutional.  A decision to strike down Prop 8 could affect similar legislation, like North Carolina's Amendment One defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Upholding Prop 8 could allow states to decide the definition of who can and can't marry legally.

To say this week of June 23rd is a big one, legislatively, might be an understatement. The panel could rule in total, wiping out years of law. It could also act only in part, making things even more complex and questionable. Perhaps it'll do nothing and leave it all as it is. Whatever the case, there's strong potential the world around us will be different come next weekend.

Are you ready?

Where do you stand on these issues? Comment below. We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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