The Supreme Court shifted further to the right in its 2008-09 term, ended yesterday, particularly on issues of civil rights and environmental protection. As USA Today reports, the conservative bloc led by John Roberts used several rulings to set tougher standards for individuals bringing suit, and it offered narrower opinions than courts past. "The Roberts Court has shown a desire to close the courthouse door," one Stanford professor said.
"Roberts' style in dealing with iconic precedents is to distinguish the older cases, leave them standing, but start tacking in the opposite direction," says one expert. The likely appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to replace David Souter will do little to change the court's ideological trajectory, with center-right Anthony Kennedy remaining the swing vote. He has been on the winning side of almost all 5-4 decisions and wrote yesterday's opinion ruling in favor of white firefighters in Connecticut.