The Supreme Court, awaiting the outcome of a presidential election that will determine its future, returns to the bench this week to face a volatile docket studded with timely cases on race, religion and immigration.
The justices have been shorthanded since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February, and say they are determined to avoid deadlocks. That will require resolve and creativity.
“This term promises to be the most unpredictable one in many, many years,” said Neal K. Katyal, a former acting United States solicitor general in the Obama administration now with Hogan Lovells.
There is no case yet on the docket that rivals the blockbusters of recent terms addressing health care, abortion or same-sex marriage. But such cases are rare, whether there are eight justices or nine.
“This term’s cases are not snoozers,” said Elizabeth B. Wydra, the president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal group. “This term features important cases about racial bias in the criminal justice system, voting rights and redistricting, immigration and detention, and accountability for big banks that engaged in racially discriminatory mortgage lending practices.”