U.S. Supreme Court 2011-2012 Term Highlights
From the introduction:
"The 2011-2012 Supreme Court Term marks the first time in three years that there was not a new justice on the bench. Although the Court was unanimous on several fronts, many times it split along ideological lines: Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito on the right, and Justices Ruth Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan on the left, with Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote. The 5-4 party line votes leave many wondering if the Court is above politics and illustrate the importance of partisan and ideological divides on the Court. This isn’t to say that the Court always divides along ideological lines, but it sometimes achieves unanimity by avoiding the important substantive issue, like in F.C.C. v. Fox Television Stations, where the Court avoided a decision on First Amendment rights by deciding that there was lack of fair notice. Yet under Chief Justice Roberts’ guidance, the Court has looked past labels and legacy to interpret laws as constitutionally as it can."
"The Court came under increasing scrutiny from the media and public as it agreed to hear pivotal cases on polarizing political and social issues, which could even affect the upcoming 2012 Presidential Election. In the tumultuous final week of the 2011-2012 Term, the Court determined 'campaign issues' such as illegal immigration (Arizona v. US, where Arizona’s controversial immigration law was mostly held unconstitutional) and health care (Congress’s Taxing Power upheld the Affordable Care Act individual mandate)."
"Yet, despite the headliner cases, the Court’s heavy docket included rulings equally deserving of attention that continue to shape constitutional rights and procedural issues, such as search and seizure, the right to counsel, intellectual property rights, and government immunity."