Shadow Over The Back Court
For Supreme Court, Kavanaugh marks partisan turning point. Back in July when President Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Kavanaugh to take the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, a move that would cement a conservative majority for decades to come, Republicans hoped that Kavanaugh would be seated for the start of the new term.
That all changed when Christine Blasey Ford came forward with allegations of sexual assault, which Kavanaugh vehemently denies. Now Kavanaugh's confirmation, which seemed certain a few weeks ago, has been thrown into question. So for the second time in recent years, Chief Justice John Roberts will find himself having to navigate the docket with only eight justices.
That means he will proceed gingerly, perhaps delaying some pending petitions to hear cases, examining existing cases to see if more narrow avenues of agreement are available and hoping that some cases currently in the lower courts on divisive issues continue to percolate below before reaching the high court. All the while, the justices know that even if Kavanaugh is not confirmed, President Donald Trump will likely nominate another conservative, and the court is still poised to take a hard right turn.
The making of a judicial phenomenon: Ruth Bader Ginsburg marks 25 years on the bench. Just a week ago the eight justices -- four liberals and four conservatives -- met behind closed doors to discuss the mountain of cert petitions that had piled up over the summer to vote on which of the cases should be added to the Court's docket. It takes four justices to agree to hear a case.
Shadow Over the Back Court | rensocomdilo.ml
But Roberts will move carefully. He knows that if an eight member court splits , then the justices are left simply upholding the lower court ruling and setting no precedent. In recent years the pre-term "long conference" has resulted in some significant grants to start off the new term. But this year was different.
THE SHADOW OF THE COURT: THE GROWING IMPERATIVE TO REFORM ETHICAL REGULATION OF FORMER JUDGES
There was a low number of grants in less high-profile cases. Petitions on more controversial issues were not acted upon.
But Roberts will move carefully. He knows that if an eight member court splits , then the justices are left simply upholding the lower court ruling and setting no precedent. In recent years the pre-term "long conference" has resulted in some significant grants to start off the new term. But this year was different. There was a low number of grants in less high-profile cases. Petitions on more controversial issues were not acted upon. For instance, the justices are considering a case about a year-old war memorial in Maryland. Challengers argue that the monument violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution because it stands on public ground and is in the shape of a cross.
A lower court ruled in their favor, holding that the "monument here has the primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion. Supporters of the monument want the justices to step in and take the case, pointing out there are similar memorials in Arlington National Cemetery.
The court could grant this Monday morning, but might decide to put off a case that could be closely divided. Another pending petition concerns whether the 8th Amendment prohibits all sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders. In , the Supreme Court held that mandatory life sentences for juveniles were unconstitutional, but it did not categorically ban the imposition of the penalty. The justices discussed this last week but did not vote to take up the case.
Several controversial issues could make their way in some form to the justices in the coming weeks and months. Tuesday, justices will hear a case involving the death penalty that will be closely watched to see how divided the eight justices are. We want to even the score,'" Pinsky said.
You took my toy first. Now, though, advocates noted during two conference panels focusing specifically on North Carolina that mounting legal and political uncertainty might improve the prospects of reform. McGrady is working on a measure for the legislature's return to Raleigh this year that, much like his redistricting bills before, would create an independent commission to draw the maps. Alongside the recurring bill, he's working on a separate measure — again with Republican and Democratic colleagues — for an amendment to the state constitution that would limit the types of data used to carve up districts and expressly forbid partisan criteria.
It would leave the power to draw maps to legislative staff, rather than a commission. Such an amendment would require approval by three-fifths of the House and the Senate, along with the backing of a majority of North Carolina voters. McGrady said he's focused right now on finishing the language of the bills for introduction by mid-February and making sure at least one of the options has enough support in the House.
Ross, who advocates for the constitutional amendment approach and has worked with McGrady on the bill, told the audience at the conference Saturday that forming an independent commission would be difficult, given the level of distrust among lawmakers in the statehouse.
The court’s “shadow docket” is growing.
He pointed to long-running fights between Democrats and Republicans on other state commissions, like the elections board, which has been disbanded by court order for more than a month. North Carolina doesn't allow voter referenda, a tactic where other redistricting reformers in states like Michigan and Colorado have declared success. But Ross said a redistricting amendment could mandate transparency and limit the information mapmakers can use to precisely slice and dice voters, ensuring a partisan advantage. Although she's advocated for independent commission legislation in the past, Pinsky told the conference Saturday that adopting transparency would put the map-making process in front of the public where it belongs.