Supreme Court is into the new session with some transforming changes along procedural and ideological lines. Few important cases are slated before the court which would prove out to be landmarks in the coming future. One could also see 20-year-old history repeating itself if the election ends in the court, as Trump pointed out.
The Supreme Court enters the new session without the veteran jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The court will be a right-leaning institution this time.
What is new about the new session of SC?
The new session of the court starts just a month before the US presidential election, taking on a political colour. The session starts in a new normal where the pandemic dictates many things. It will be a telephonic conference. The arguments will be available for the public to listen.
The greatest difference, however, is the absence of Justice Ginsburg. The veteran died of cancer last month at the age of 87. The leading liberal representative seemed like a permanent figure in the court. Many of her colleagues are still to come to terms with absence in the Supreme Court. Ginsburg was detected with pancreatic cancer in 2009.
After her death Republicans rushed the nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett as a replacement. This changes the court on ideological lines. Republicans long-held dream of establishing conservative majority in the Supreme Court will finally be materialized after her confirmation. Barrett is relatively young and this ideological shift could be long-lasting.
Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation will consolidate 6-3 majority for conservatives over liberals. Among the total of 54 justices, Barrett will nominate nine justices under him. It is almost certain that they will be staunch conservatives. Trump has personally backed Barrett for the position. Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh are also his appointees. Trump administration has deliberately and strategically overturned the majority in their favour.
After Ginsburg’s death, another liberal Justice Stephen Breyer may also announce retirement. The 82-year old is the oldest serving Justice of Supreme Court. He has earlier asserted that he will retire when Democrats are in control of both Houses. It remains to be seen if Biden can pull out a victory or Trump will put yet another weight on the conservative side of the balance.
Earlier, Justice John Robert used to moderate proceedings by alternately shifting to either side of the divide. But now even if he takes a Liberal side, Republicans will remain in 5-4 majority. This will pave way for many conservative backed judgements like abrogation of abortion rights and expansion of gun rights.
Cases that will become a landmark
Some very useful cases are slated before the new session of Supreme Court. One of the first among them is the copyright rift between Google and Oracle. Oracle has sued Google for using its code to develop an android system for mobile. Oracle has demanded the compensation of $9 billion. The case will be heard this month only.
The Supreme Court will hear the case between Philadelphia Catholic Agency and the city. The agency has sued the city for its decision to not place children with the agency. The city has decided so on discrimination ground because the Catholic agency will not keep children whose parents are of the same sex. If Justice Barrett gets confirmation before the election, this will be her first case. It will act as a litmus test for Barrett’s ideological leanings.
The next major case is the abrogation of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Trump has made promises to overturn the law. The promise is vigorously supported by Republicans. But Trump doesn’t seem to have an alternate health care plan. Court’s ruling on the issue will determine the fate of America’s health system.
In December, the case over handling of grand jury testimony from Mueller’s investigation to the Senate will be heard. Trump’s denial of peaceful transfer of power leads to the speculation that election too will end in Supreme Court.
The new session of the Supreme Court will be historic in many sense. Justice Barrett’s approach towards her ideological leanings and court hearings will determine the course of justice for years to come.