Sunday, October 03, 2010

Supreme Court Update

Linda Greenhouse reviews how we are increasingly ruled by 5-4 decisions.

Almost as soon as Justice O’Connor left, for example, the court jumped into an issue she had resisted: whether school boards trying to prevent re-segregation can take race into account in student assignment plans. Despite the absence of any conflicting lower court decisions — the primary marker of a case the Supreme Court deems worthy of its attention — the court agreed to hear challenges to race-conscious plans in Louisville and Seattle. In its ruling on these cases, known collectively as Parents Involved, the court voted 5 to 4 to invalidate the plans.

The court thus began a rightward and almost entirely 5-to-4 march through its precedents that prompted Justice Stephen G. Breyer to declare from the bench on the final day of the 2006 term, “It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much.”

Read on.

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