The Supreme Court began its term with the tumultuous ratification of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. It was followed by a studied avoidance of the drama in the high court of law – especially something that would separate the five conservatives and the four liberals from each other.
The judges have been unusually worried since Kavanaugh's confirmation, and several have expressed concern that the public perceives the court only as a political institution. Chief Justice John Roberts appears to be determined to lead the only Washington institution that stands above political struggle. Even Roberts' rebuke of President Trump, after the president had criticized a federal judge, defended an independent, apolitical judiciary.
The next few weeks will check if the rest can last.
If they gather privately To test new arguments in April and the next term, the judges will have to deal with a series of high-level appeals on 4 January.
Abortion restrictions, discrimination against LGBTs in the workplace and partisan gerrymandering are on the agenda. Behind them are the appeals of the Trump administration to ask the court to end an Obama era program that protects young immigrants from deportation and introduce restrictive rules for transgender troops.
There are already signs that the conservative judges are justifying Apart from Roberts, they are prepared to accept controversial cases that are likely to lead to the ideological and partisan divisions that seem to steer clear of their colleagues.
In recent weeks, three Conservative judges have accused the court of having decided to take cases, especially when lower courts disagreed about the outcome. Their criticism, written by Justice Clarence Thomas and Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, came after a recent decision to avoid a case involving the funding of Planned Parenthood.
On Friday before Christmas, the court ruled 5: 4 in refusing to allow the Trump administration to impose new restrictions on asylum seekers. Roberts joined the four liberals. The three conservatives, who disliked the Planned Parenthood case, reiterated their disagreement, this time from Kavanaugh.
The two voices can not be used to draw clear conclusions about what can happen behind closed doors before the court, as the cases arrived under different circumstances. In the case of planned parenting, the judges considered whether to grant a full review, a process that required only four votes. The asylum case was an emergency call from the administration. At least five of the nine judges would have been in favor of the government to vote.
But Lawrence Solum, professor of constitutional law at the Law School of Georgetown University, said Roberts seems to have two reasons for limiting the court's involvement in the armed forces. button cases: his penchant for small steps in the law and his concern for the reputation of the court.
"It is clear that 5-4 decisions are perceived by many, many lawyers, many politicians and a large number of citizens as ideological decisions," said Solum. "Given Robert's desire to preserve the legitimacy of the court, he might be very motivated to avoid such decisions in the immediate immediate period in the court's history, whether this is a year, two years or five years, who knows ? "
The court arrived at this point after an unusual chain of events that began with the death of Justice Minister Antonin Scalia in February 201
Throughout the summer, the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy meant that even Trump would replace the court's swing with a more reliable Conservative. Kavanaugh's success as Appeals Judge implied that he was the man, but his confirmation was almost disfigured by allegations of sexual assault that Kavanaugh denied.
The allegations against Kavanaugh made the confirmation process a national spectacle that ended in a hearing Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who have accused him of assault in high school. The Republicans said the allegation was unproven and confirmed Kavanaugh in a rare Saturday meeting. In a demonstration of how emotional the debate had become, a demonstration of protesters gathered in the Supreme Court building after the vote in Kavanaugh. Some climbed onto the stone statues lining the steps.
A Result of the Kavanaugh Riots was the Most Serious Discussion Sola said the powers of the court were restricted for decades, and possibly the number of judges increased. "It suggests that the legitimacy of the court is in question, perhaps in a way that has not happened until recently."
Roberts is not only the supreme court, but he has essentially captured Kennedy as a swinging voice in conservative justice near the tribunal. The Supreme Court will only go as far as Roberts wants in both directions.
He may try to exclude the court completely in some cases, although he is obliged to persuade at least one other conservative judiciary to take part. This happened in the case of planned parenting when Kavanaugh agreed to reject the review. "The difficult confirmation battle can lead to some caution," said John McGinnis, a professor at Northwestern University.
When the judges throw themselves into controversy, Roberts will be able to write or insist that decisions be taken narrowly, "said McGinnis.
Roberts has been Chief Justice for more than 13 years, but he is only 63 years old and could lead the court for another two decades or more. " This allows Roberts, who has started his legal career as a lawyer in the Reagan Administration, a long-term perspective, McGinnis said, waiting for a time when political tensions and concerns about the court's reputation are dwindling.