SCOTUS Starts New Term in Scenario Not Seen for 50 Years

Future makeup of the court is now effectively in voters' hands
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2016 7:18 AM CDT
Back to work Monday for the Supreme Court justices.   (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)

(Newser) – The US Supreme Court kicks off its new term Monday—one that Bloomberg anticipates will be quite "boring." But while most of the cases on its docket aren't huge headline-generators, the court is ramping back up in circumstances that haven't been seen for nearly 50 years, notes the Los Angeles Times. Specifically, voters will basically fill the seat left by the late Antonin Scalia, as whomever they pick for president will fill that slot. The last time this happened: when an outgoing LBJ tried to replace retiring Chief Justice Earl Warren but was filibustered out of his choice by the Senate, leading Richard Nixon to appoint conservative Warren Burger instead in 1969. If Trump wins next month, the court would shift again to a conservative 5-4 majority, but if Clinton wins, the Dems would wrest back control for the first time since Nixon's appointment. Four upcoming cases worth mentioning, per the AP:

  • A church-state separation case in which a Missouri church is fighting being left out of a state program that awards grants for the installation of rubber playground surfaces.

  • A man's US citizenship claims (and battle against deportation) based on the fact that his mother is American, even though his father isn't and he was born outside the US himself.
  • Two Texas death penalty appeals, including that of African-American inmate Duane Buck, who says his own lawyers messed up his case by calling an expert witness who testified black people were more likely to be violent. Meanwhile, prisoner Bobby Moore says he shouldn't be put to death because he's intellectually disabled.
  • A dispute that could also affect the Washington Redskins: Asian-American band The Slants fighting for trademark protection, initially denied by the feds because the band's name was deemed offensive.
A transgender teen's case may also appear before the high court. (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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