Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Short-handed Supreme Court delays action in three cases

The Supreme Court on Friday released its argument calendar for late November and early December. [Associated Press]

The Supreme Court on Friday released its argument calendar for late November and early December. [Associated Press]

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is offering new evidence that the short-handed court is having trouble getting its work done.

The eight justices have yet to schedule three cases for arguments that were granted full review in January, about a month before Justice Antonin Scalia died. The cases involve separation of church and state, class-action lawsuits and property rights, issues that often split liberal and conservative justices.

Their absence from the calendar of cases that are being argued this fall suggests that the justices believe they may divide evenly, and are waiting for a ninth justice to join them.

"The court doesn't like to do a lot of work and have a 4-4 result. There may be a desire of the court to try to wait for the full complement of justices," said Todd Gaziano of the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is taking part in the property rights case.

The court on Friday released its argument calendar for late November and early December. It includes redistricting disputes from North Carolina and Virginia, and a Texas death row inmate's appeal.

Senate Republicans have refused to act on Judge Merrick Garland's nomination to fill Scalia's seat.

Even if Garland were to get a Senate hearing and vote after the election, if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, the earliest he could join the court would be for its January arguments. If the Senate does not act on Garland's nomination in its post-election "lame duck" session, the vacancy could last into the spring, meaning almost all of the court's term would go by with eight justices.

In the meantime, several justices have commented on the challenges posed by the absence of one justice.

"It's much more difficult for us to do our job if we are not what we're intended to be — a court of nine," Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Monday at the University of Minnesota.

The justices divided evenly in four cases following Scalia's death last term. A tie vote keeps in place the lower court decision that is being reviewed, without settling any nationwide law on the question at issue. It's as if the high court hadn't taken on the case in the first place.

Short-handed Supreme Court delays action in three cases 10/21/16 [Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2016 3:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Study: States with legalized marijuana have more car crash claims

    Accidents

    DENVER — A recent insurance study links increased car crash claims to legalized recreational marijuana.

    A close-up of a flowering marijuana plant in the production room of Modern Health Concepts' greenhouse on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. [C.M. Guerrero | Miami Herald/TNS]
  2. Black lawmaker: I was called 'monkey' at protest to change Confederate street signs

    Blogs

    A black state legislator says he was called a "nigger" and a "monkey" Wednesday by pro-Confederates who want Hollywood to keep three roads named after Confederate generals, including one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

    Rep. Shevrin Jones.
  3. Senate GOP set to release health-care bill (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON -— Senate Republicans on Thursday plan to release a health-care bill that would curtail federal Medicaid funding, repeal taxes on the wealthy and eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood as part of an effort to fulfill a years-long promise to undo Barack Obama's signature health-care law.

    From left, Uplift Executive Director Heidi Mansir, of Gardiner, Maine, former West Virginia State Rep. Denise Campbell, Elkins, W. Va., University of Alaska-Anchorage student Moira Pyhala of Soldotna, Alaska, and National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson appear before Democratic senators holding a hearing about how the GOP health care bill could hurt rural Americans, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was expected to push for a vote next week on the legislation, which would eliminate much of Obama's 2010 overhaul and leave government with a diminished role in providing coverage and helping people afford it. [Associated Press]
  4. Pasco fire station reopens after hundreds of bats forced crews out

    Human Interest

    Fire crews have returned to a Hudson fire station nearly two weeks after they were forced out by possibly thousands of bats.

    Fire crews returned to Station 39 in Hudson on June 21, 2017, nearly twoo weeks after the building was closed due to a rat infestation. [Times files]
  5. Church of England head says it 'colluded with' sex abuse

    Religion

    LONDON — The Church of England "colluded" with and helped to hide the long-term sexual abuse of young men by one of its former bishops, the head of the church said Thursday.