The Supreme Court term that just began promises to be every bit as breathtaking as the last.
With this docket, the court could:
- Eliminate affirmative action in college admissions;
- Prohibit Alabama from considering race in approving new district lines under the Voting Rights Act; and
- Give state legislatures untrammeled authority to set the rules for elections, bypassing state courts.
At the outset, it’s important to note that the Supreme Court was under no obligation to take any of these cases. There are very few types of cases that the Court is required to take. (The Circuit Courts of Appeals are where most federal cases end, and only if they are appealed from the District Courts.) Increasingly, it appears that the Supreme Court has an agenda. The majority knows what it wants to do and is checking off the issues one by one.
Equally disturbing, however, are several patterns that have developed in how the Court adjudicates the cases it takes. If the last term is any indication, Justices have, for example, felt free to distort the meaning of current law, cherry-pick the facts they relied upon, and decided cases with as broad a reach as possible (sometimes even ruling on issues that weren’t raised by the parties).
To be concerned is only a weak response to these developments. We must be alarmed, and then we must continually speak up to protect the rule of law.