Feature

The Supreme Court’s new year

A tame docket and a good chance of a turnover

The Supreme Court begins its new term Monday, said The New York Times in an editorial, and “the indications so far are that it could be a quiet year.” With the high court’s cases, once again, to be decided by the “swing vote” of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the “real excitement this fall” is over the “presidential race that could shape the court for years to come.”

It’s worth noting that if any justices retire under Barack Obama, the court would “stay pretty much the way it is,” said Ellen Goodman in The Boston Globe, since the three justices most likely to leave are liberals. If John McCain is elected, however, “Katy bar the door.” He has already “promised the court to the right wing.”

Well, the “claims of a conservative ascendency” have proved premature so far, said Jonathan Adler in National Review Online. But regardless of the court’s makeup, this year’s cases are unlikely to split along ideological lines—a useful reminder that Supreme Court litigation is not—or need not be—merely "politics conducted by other means.”

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