End Of Another Term & The Calm Before The Storm | SCOTUSDaily To Return In The Fall
July 2, 2021
THE SLOW WALK TO THE RIGHT|
“All term long the Supreme Court has been the target of political players as members of Congress called for a ‘legislative solution,’ the Biden administration launched a commission to study court reform and progressive groups claimed that court packing measures were necessary to ‘save’ the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, conservatives relished the possibility of a swift right turn with their new 6-3 majority after JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG died last September and AMY CONEY BARRETT joined the bench the next month. By the last day of the term, the justices finally issued their own verdict.” Ariane de Vogue with CNN reports the pair of 6-3 decision justices handed down yesterday had “deep political undertones that will bolster narratives put forward by the poles of both parties.” The decisions suggested that divisions at the court will be worse next year when justices will hear even more blockbuster cases on issues as important as reproductive rights and the Second Amendment.
GOOD NEWS FOR CONSERVATIVES & MORE TO COME|
Mark Sherman with The Associated Press also reports on justices ending what was otherwise an “unusually agreeable term” with two big-time conservative wins. He reviews the term and notes, “Ideological divisions were not often on display through much of the year. Unusual alliances of justices formed to decide one case and a different lineup would emerge in the next. Many of the court’s biggest cases were decided on narrower grounds with broad majorities, including a Philadelphia dispute in which the court ruled unanimously for a Catholic social service agency that objects to working with married same-sex couples who want to be foster parents.” But he also suggests that what we saw from SCOTUS yesterday offers a glimpse of what the coming years could look like with this ultra-conservative bench.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY|
Ian Millhiser with Vox calls out the three winners and three losers from the Supreme Court term. Let’s start with the losers: democracy, JUSTICE ALITO, and unions. The winners: the shadow docket, student-athletes, and the Republican Party. On the last Millhiser admits that while no political party can expect SCOTUS to rule in its favor every time, “In a term gravid with extraordinarily aggressive arguments made by right-wing lawyers, conservatives and Republicans had an exceptionally good run.”
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR|
It was JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT’S first term as a Supreme Court justice, and Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung with Reuters review how she blazed her own path. They write that she helped “a conservative majority prevail in major cases while at times defying expectations after critics last year tried to paint her as a right-wing zealot.” So far, she has joined the center of the 6-3 conservative court, which still meant she helped solidify the court’s rightward tilt. The center of SCOTUS ain’t what it used to be!
LET ME SEE YOU ONE TWO STEP|
Dahlia Lithwick with Slate reviews the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday on donor disclosure and notes that CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS seems to be sticking with his strategy of slowly but surely applying a conservative agenda to shaping the law. Or, as the sub-head of the article reads, “Doing bad things in two steps several years apart is becoming something of a strategy for John Roberts.”
I'LL BE SEEING YOU|
SCOTUSDaily is going to take a long summer break which means that unless anything drastic happens (*cough* JUSTICE BREYER), we’ll be back in your inboxes in the fall. So until then, wishing you and yours a restful summer. We all deserve a breather after the last year and a half. See you next time!
SCOTUS VIEWSThe Washington Post
“Thanks to the six right-wing justices on the Supreme Court, our country has just become less democratic. In twin rulings issued Thursday, they said that states can make it harder for people to vote and they made it easier for big donors to sway elections in secrecy. You wonder if July 1, 2021, might come to be known as Oligarchy Day.”Los Angeles Times
“Unfortunately, the quest for consensus went only so far. Last month the conservative majority struck down a California labor-law regulation, ruling that agricultural landowners and food processors have a right to keep union organizers off their property. Roberts’ majority opinion implausibly labeled the limited access granted to organizers a ‘physical taking’ under the 5th Amendment. Then on Thursday, the justices divided in the last two cases they decided this term along both ideological lines and in terms of the party of the presidents who appointed them. The split on the question of donor disclosure for nonprofits is regrettable, but not a substantial threat to the court’s reputation.”The Washington Post
“Today’s conservative judges pride themselves on being textualists. When interpreting a statute, they always start with the law’s text. Unless the law is ambiguous, they end with the text, too. As Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. put it just last year, the courts’ focus must never waver from what a statute’s ‘words were understood to mean at the time of enactment.’ Any other approach, even one that ‘sails under a textualist flag,’ Alito lectured, is ‘like a pirate ship’ — inappropriate and illegitimate. So it was a shock to see the Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by none other than Alito, stacking one extra-textual constraint after another onto Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”The Washington Post
“This Supreme Court term was significant mostly because of what the court did not do: The newly constituted 6-3 conservative supermajority did not use every case to openly and dramatically move the law rightward. Rather, in several important cases — including those involving the fate of the Affordable Care Act and the tension between religious liberty and gay rights — the court managed to resolve matters on seemingly narrow grounds and with broad majorities that transcended ideological differences. But to call this term a model of judicial restraint — or even nonpartisanship — would be misleading. This is not a moderate or apolitical court. It is a reliably conservative court that, on occasion, chooses to act incrementally.”
Some call voting restrictions upheld by Supreme Court ‘Jim Crow 2.0.’ Here’s the ugly history behind that phrase.The Washington Post
“The Supreme Court has upheld new voting restrictions in Arizona, after a lower court said the restrictions discriminated against minority voters. In a 6-to-3 opinion critics say is reminiscent of the Jim Crow era, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. acknowledged that these restrictions could have a disproportionate effect on 0.5 percent of Black, Latino and Native American voters. Though Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump by 0.4 percentage point in Arizona and 0.3 points in Georgia, Alito argued that 0.5 percent of voters was too ‘small in absolute terms’ to outweigh the state’s interests in protecting the vote from fraud.”