Monday, October 5, 2009
Today marks the first Monday of the new Supreme Court term. In recognition of this day, here is a list of stories focusing on the Supreme Court.
This term marks the first term for the Court's newest member, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Last week, Washington Post experts discussed the potential changes the new justice might bring. Those that predicted Justice Sotomayor to be active were proven right as reports of her first day indicate she will be an active participant in Court proceedings.
Of course, Justice Sotomayor's tenure is historic as she is the first Latina and only the third woman to serve on the Court. This lead to further reconsideration of a question posed during Justice Sotomayor's confirmation hearings - Do women make better judges than men? Law Professors Stephen Choi, Mitu Gulati and Eric Posner and doctoral candidate Mirya Holman discussed their recent work on this subject on Slate.com. Their conclusion? Desipte the fact that female jurists tend to come from a "shallower" applicant pool, male and female judges had similar quality rankings. (The Slate article also links to their full article.)
Our final Court story has practical significance as well. The ABA Journal has reported that after the last five justices were seated, the number of cases heard by the Court has dropped precipitously. In fact, the Court's docket has dropped nearly fifty percent in the last two decades. Today's New York Times carried a story confirming this conclusion. The NYT reported that just this term, the Court declined to hear 2,000 cases. The court's shinking docket raises several questions. What happens when the Court does not step into the void? Are some issues best served by allowing the Courts of Appeals or state courts to serve as the final arbiters? Or, does the Court's refusal to hear cases on certain issues - including the 'Choose Life' license plates, a perrenial cert denial favorite - create legal confusion. Are litigants adversely impacted if the Supreme Court does not hear their claims? All these questions and more should be considered by scholars and the public alike, particularly if current trends persist.
As always, we will continue to bring you the latest information on constitional law from the Supreme Court and elsewhere throughout the 2009-10 term. We hope you will continue to enjoy our coverage.