from The Economist
A YEAR ago the Supreme Court returned to work one judge down, as Senate Republicans refused to consider Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia. On October 2nd, when all nine seats are once again filled for opening day with Neil Gorsuch, Mr Trump’s choice, perched in the right-most chair, the court will begin a term promising bigger cases, sharper splits and higher hopes for conservatives. How far those hopes are realised will turn on Anthony Kennedy, the longest-serving justice, who sits at the court’s ideological centre.
Retirement rumours in June proved premature, but Justice Kennedy, who is 81, has told clerkship applicants he may not hire a full team for the 2018-19 term. That means perhaps one last docket of 60 or 70 cases for the 29-year veteran to decide before he hangs up his robe. The dazzling array of cases may have been too tantalising to watch from the golf course. According to Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitutional Accountability Centre, after the last, tentative term, the justices have opted to “confront a raft of controversial issues head-on.”