The exterior of the United States Supreme Court building. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons-Flickr/onecle)
By Bob Bradley
On Monday, October 1, the Supreme Court held its first official session of the 2012-2013 Term. The Supreme Court starts its term on the first Monday in October.
The last term of the Court ended with quite a flourish with its decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the singular legislative achievement of the Obama administration. Will the new term include a case of similar stature? The answer thus far is unlikely but then all the cases the Court will hear this upcoming term are not known yet.
Some other questions to consider for the upcoming term:
-What will be the working relationship be between Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia? A variety of accounts after the announcement of the Affordable Care Act decision indicated that Justice Scalia was quite upset with Chief Justice Robert’s apparent switch on the case and subsequent vote to uphold the law.
Given that Justice Scalia is not known for his restraint in his criticism of fellow justices it will be very interesting to see how the interaction between the two plays out in the context of several cases dealing with very divisive issues this term.
-What will be the future voting tendencies of Chief Justice Roberts? Some court observers feel that Chief Justice Robert’s actions in regard to the Affordable Care Act may portend his evolution to a more moderate decisional approach to cases. If that happens then the 5-4 split on the Court with a fairly consistent conservative majority bloc may be up in the air.
-What will the future hold for the justices? With four justices in their 70s and one of them about to turn 80, how many of them will stay on the Court for another four years? Neither Obama nor Romney has devoted much attention to discussing what qualities they would be looking for in a Supreme Court nominee.
Romney used to say that Chief Justice Roberts would be his model for a nominee but since the Affordable Care Act decision he has ceased making that statement.
-What does the future hold for the Court’s role in providing final answers to legal controversies? For the upcoming term, the Court has been very slow in granting hearings to cases. The pace for granting cases is far slower than recent past terms.
Last Term, the Court decided only 64 cases that had been given full oral argument. This was the fewest decisions made by the Court in over two decades. Thirty years ago it was not unusual for the Court to decide 120 cases or more in a typical Term. Thus many divisive legal issues are not being given a final resolution by the Court.
-What interesting cases will the Court hear this term? The Court will wrestle with the meaning of equality in several different settings. The Court will address the use of race in college admissions, and whether individuals of the same sex can be prohibited from getting married by either federal or state governments.
The Court will also address the power of Congress to establish that certain states have to get clearance from the Department of Justice before altering congressional district lines or voting requirements. On another legal issue, the Court will determine the application of the Fourth Amendment to the use of drug-sniffing dogs in a couple of different settings. There will also be several cases dealing with the availability of class action lawsuits to different types of litigants.
Bob Bradley is solely responsible for the opinions expressed above. These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of WJBC, Radio Bloomington or Cumulus Media staff or management.
Bradley was a full-time professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University where he has been since 1982. He has received several recognitions including: Carnegie Scholar for Civic Engagement, Constitution Trail Friend of the Year, and Faculty Star distinction by ISU Athletics. He dearly loves his wife, Reenie, of more than 25 years, and his daughter, Erin. He is an avid reader, devout sports enthusiast, gardener, golfer, and bird watcher.