The Supreme Court term that begins Monday holds the prospect for major rulings about affirmative action, same-sex marriage and voting rights. A look at cases the court already has agreed to hear and other top cases in the pipeline:
Racial preferences - In Fisher v. University of Texas, to be argued Oct. 10, the court will weigh Texas' limited use of race to help fill out its incoming classes. The outcome could result in a major cutback in the use of racial preferences at the nation's colleges.
Accountability for human rights abuses - The justices will consider whether American courts may be used by foreign victims to sue over human rights violations abroad. The case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, to be argued on Monday, concerns claims that the oil giant Shell was complicit in atrocities committed by the Nigerian government against its citizens in the oil-rich Niger delta.
Drug-sniffing dogs - Two disputes involving drug-sniffing dogs will be heard by the court on Halloween. In one, the question is whether a dog brought to the front door of a home to sniff for marijuana amounts to a search. In the other, the court will consider a dog's reliability and qualifications as a drug-sniffing animal in a case involving a traffic stop and a warrantless search that found the ingredients for making methamphetamines in a pickup.
Fighting terrorism - The government is trying to shut down a constitutional challenge to a law that lets the United States eavesdrop on overseas communications. …