Travel ban, church-state case await action by Supreme Court

Author

28 June, 2017

On the justices' final work day until fall, they issued rulings or otherwise made news in cases involving school choice, religious liberty, birth certificates and President Donald Trump's travel ban.

Donald Trump shakes hands with Neil Gorsuch after nominating him to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, January 31, 2017. Instead of Garland on the far right of the bench where the newest justice sits, there was Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Choosing Supreme Court Justices is a fraught political process.

The cases include the rights of immigrants to court hearings while they face long periods of detention and the validity of a provision of immigration law that makes deportations easier.

Gorsuch "is likely to resolve his cases on very formalistic legal reasoning and to articulate his positions very forcefully", Litman said. That may explain why the Supreme Court decided on fewer cases than normal.

The nine justices left the Supreme Court bench on Monday morning. But the court recessed without any announcement.

The gossip mill went into overdrive after his former law clerks moved up a planned reunion to last weekend - as judges traditionally announce retirement plans to their clerks before the public - but after teasing the assembled alum with a big announcement, it wasn't what they expected.

Kennedy hasn't actually said anything publicly to suggest he's hanging up his gavel anytime soon, but speculation has been swirling for months, fueled by his colleagues and lawmakers.

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The 49-year-old Coloradan restored the court's conservative tilt, almost 14 months after Justice Antonin Scalia's death left the remaining eight justices divided between four liberal-leaning Democratic appointees and four conservative-leaning Republican appointees.

So far, five Republican senators are expressing opposition to the Senate GOP plan that would scuttle much of former President Barack Obama's health law, as they await a key analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Don't listen to all the happy talk about how the Chief Justice is going to move to the center to help save the Court's reputation; if he is the "swing" vote the Court is going to "swing" right nearly every time and progressives causes are going to suffer.

"As the court's most important Justice - at the center of the institution's ideological balance - Justice Kennedy's ability to bridge the divide between left and right on critical issues such as the right to access abortion can not be overstated", said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center to CNN Monday.

The court did leave one category of foreigners protected, those "with a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States", the court said in an unsigned opinion. Justice Kennedy - this in many ways is the Kennedy Court, he's the swing vote for more than a decade on crucial issues, abortion, Affirmative Action, the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans, including marriage. They criticized the court for leaving part of Trump's travel ban on hold and said the majority was too quick to side with a lesbian couple in Arkansas. The court also agreed to hear a case on Trump's travel ban and lifted an injunction against it.

But something could overshadow rulings in those high-profile cases: If Justice Anthony Kennedy were to use the court's last public session on Monday to announce his retirement.

In the meantime, the court will allow a limited version of the ban to take effect.

The troika would have allowed all of Trump's executive order banning people from six majority-Muslim countries to go into effect immediately.


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