The Supreme Court’s New Term

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.”

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2 Responses to The Supreme Court’s New Term

  1. Erik Peterson November 4, 2017 at 10:58 am #

    2018 is going to be an extremely important and pivotal year for the United States’ Supreme Court. The arrival of new justice Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s newest appointee to the Supreme Court, will be responsible for many monumental cases as the Supreme Court returns to action this year. Meanwhile, 29 year veteran Anthony Kennedy serves what might be his last term as a justice, before he retires. Many feel that Kennedy is deciding to hold on to his chair for this last term, because so many controversial issues will be decided in this upcoming term. These issues include workplace power, election processes, gay rights, privacy among citizens, and countless others. I think that the American public is going to be paying a lot of attention to the Supreme Court as these issues are decided, because each of them will have an impact on the way we live as American Citizens.
    The lawsuit concerning workplace power, Epic Systems Corp v Lewis, could potentially give more power to employers when solving inter workplace disputes. If decided in favor of the corporations, employees would have to go through an arbitration process, rather than go directly to the court room. Personally, I think that this is a good idea. The arbitration process, which involves the two parties speaking their side of an issue to an arbitrator, rather than a judge, who decides the “winner”, sounds like a much more cost effective alternative to the courts. If the two parties were instead involved in a court room dispute, each side would have a ton of legal fees to pay.
    The second case, Gill v Whitford, will decide the fate of the practice of Gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a process that potential candidates use in order to manipulate the voting powers of their opponents, by changing district boundaries. Supreme Court cases involving this process have surfaced before, but there has not been a viable solution formulated as of yet, so Gerrymandering is a tactic that can continue to be utilized. I think that if the Supreme Court could come up with a good solution to this issue, that they should definitely use it. I think that it is unfair to manipulate the voting power of people, in order to win an election.
    The third case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Comission, can empower businesses with the right to choose who they decide to provide their services to. Masterpiece Cakeshop is a business founded with religious principles. They refused to provide a cake to a same-sex couple who wanted to get their wedding cake at the business. Under the First Amendment, the bakery should be allowed to do this. However, a Colorado statute states that businesses are required to serve everybody equally, regardless of sexual orientation. In this case, I would have to side with the business. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and therefore it should override the Colorado statute. Furthermore, there are several bakeries within the state of Colorado that would be more than happy to bake the cake for the couple.
    Another case that the article mentions, Carpenter v United States, could allow the government to use mobile phone data in order to convict people of crimes. Timothy Carpenter, who was arrested for organizing multiple armed robberies, was convicted when the FBI used evidence from his cell phone. When it comes to the information that the government can gather from cell phones, I feel that they are walking a very fine line. On one hand, they would be able to protect people by using the information gathered from people’s cell phone activity, and on the other, they could potentially be invading people’s personal lives. My feeling is that once someone is brought into custody, it would then make sense to look into their past activities, including their cell phone records. However, gathering that information before an arrest is made, in my opinion, is unfair to regular citizens who have not committed a crime.
    All in all, the supreme court has some extremely difficult and important decisions to make this coming year. Each of these decisions will change the way that American citizens live their lives on a daily basis.

  2. Vincent Scorese December 8, 2017 at 11:37 pm #

    2018 is going to be a very busy year for the supreme court as they prepare for a bunch of cases that will be landmarks in the united states history books and will also dictate much of the case rulings for years to come by using these new rulings a s standards for the ones that follow in its place. The appointment for the supreme court by president trump will also shape how these decisions might favor certain outcomes that would be more on possibly conservative ideals rather than that of a liberal viewing which will mean something different depending on who you talk to. Cases this year coming up are going to include things regarding gerrymandering, rights of religion, and also things regarding privacy rights in the regard to the workplace or private lives. I think the supreme court is ready to dig up their sleeves and get into action with these cases as they are going to mean a lot.

    Justice Kennedy has been a justice on the supreme court for a very long time and he is now going to be 81, which most people would be retired at and to some point Kennedy was possibly thinking of it but he thinks and people around him believe he wants to hit these issues head on and it would be too good to be watching on the sidelines rather than he is going to participate. Which if I was in his shoes, I would do the same considering how important this year is going to not only be for all of the justices in the supreme court but also for the country and the way we view certain laws going forward.

    It is going to be a very interesting set of events that will take place very soon regarding the cases being brought to the supreme court and most people will be getting their popcorn ready!

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