TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
The Justices of the US Supreme Court sit for their official photograph on October 8, 2010 at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Front row (L-R): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Back Row (L-R): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. and Associate Justice Elena Kagan.
This week, the Supreme Court handed down a controversial judgment on Arizona’s SB1070, and is expected to rule on the Affordable Care Act in the coming days.
In the past, the Roberts court has frequently been divisive between the conservative and liberal wings, with decisions on major cases being ruled 5-4 or 6-3. In Gonzalez v. Carhart, the Roberts Court ruled 5-4 that partial-birth abortions could be banned. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the court ruled, 5-4, that the Second Amendment protected the right to keep firearms in the home. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court ruled, again 5-4, that the government can’t restrict independent political contributions by corporations and unions. Sensing a trend?
Are we in the most partisan Supreme Court in history? Or has the court always been viewed as legislating from the bench? Is it even possible to have a non-partisan Supreme Court?
Vincent Bonventre, professor of Law, Albany Law School; author, New York Court Watcher