The last term of the Supreme Court was relatively calm, but experts are predicting that the next term with the addition of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch will be much more eventful.
In the last 14 months, the eight justices have been in agreement more so than not.
“The last term was marked by a level of agreement unseen at the court in more than 70 years. That was a consequence of a lack of divisive disputes on social issues and hard work by the justices, who often favored exceedingly narrow decisions to avoid deadlocks. . . .” writes the New York Times. “Less consequential cases seemed to produce consensus. According to data from Lee Epstein, a law professor and political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, the percentage of cases decided by a 5-to-4 or a 5-to-3 vote was 14 percent, compared to an average since 1946 of 22 percent.”
Some saw this “lack of divisive disputes” as a good thing.
“It has been a quiet term, and that is a good thing for the country,” said William Baude, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School and political writer. “Overall, this year the court was the least dramatic, and most functional, branch of government. We will look back on this term as the calm before the storm.”
The four years prior to the last term, were dominated by high-profile cases in favor of several liberal political agendas, including Obamacare, same-sex marriage, and abortion.
“When the 2016 term began nine months ago, it looked like the end of the court’s conservative era,” writes USA Today. “Obama’s nomination of federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland was dormant in the Republican-controlled Senate, but Hillary Clinton was leading in the polls and, as president, was expected to name Garland or someone to his left as Scalia’s replacement.”
But in April, Justice Neil Gorsuch, a highly respected judge with a conservative position was appointed by President Donald Trump. This gave the Supreme Court a conservative tilt.
Gorsuch has made it clear where he stands on issues. According to SCOTUSblog, he has voted 100% of the time with the super conservative Clarence Thomas.
“He looks like a home run for conservatives,” said John Malcolm, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He also said, “the court is now no longer going to steer clear of controversial cases.”
So what’s to come?
“The 2017 term’s docket is being decorated with bigger cases. The court will decide whether congressional and state legislative election districts can be drawn with overwhelming precision to benefit one political party. It will decide if police can use cellphone location data to track suspects without a warrant. It will decide if merchants can refuse to serve same-sex couples if companies can bar employees from class-action lawsuits, and if a federal ban on sports betting in most states violates their regulatory powers,” writes USA Today.
With nine versus eight justices, it’s unlikely that the court will reach a deadlock and will instead, hopefully be able to compromise and make more decisions.
Author’s note: In the Obama era, the conservative agenda was unfairly censored. It’s finally time for the conservative viewpoint to be not only heard, but have more power to sway decisions again. This is a welcomed change.