New Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr.’s first day on the bench Tuesday was an unusually busy one. The Court heard arguments in key environmental cases, issued a ruling involving freedom of religion, and granted review in a new case that will put the justices back in the center of the national abortion rights debate.

The Court said it would hear arguments this fall in Gonzales v. Carhart, a challenge to the 2003 federal Partial-Birth Abortion Act brought by Leroy Carhart, the same Nebraska doctor who successfully brought down a similar state law in the 2000 case Stenberg v. Carhart.

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