Post by Randall Ryder
A number of hot political topics–gay marriage, immigration, and deepwater drilling–are likely to come in front of the Supreme Court in the near future. The Supreme Court is the nation’s highest court, but it is about to enter a period during which it will be in almost a near-constant spotlight.
A California judge recently overturned Proposition 8, which had banned gay marriage in California. The judge held that the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional because it burdened individual’s right to marry and also created an irrational classification based on sexual preference. The case has already been appealed to the federal court of appeals. In all likelihood, that decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court.
In Arizona, a federal judge issued an injunction on controversial portions of the immigration law. The judge expressed concern that the law would result in illegal aliens being swept up by the police. In addition, the judge was concerned that the law conflicted with federal authority to regulate immigration.
In Louisiana, a federal judge overturned the Department of Interior’s ban on deepwater drilling in the wake of the BP oil spill disaster. In Texas, the Attorney General has sued over the moratorium on drilling, saying that it will cost the state billions in lost revenue.
In all likelihood, all three issues will end up before the Supreme Court. In part, certain sides in the cases may view the federal appeals courts, and even the Supreme Court, as "friendlier" venues for their view on an issue. The addition of Elena Kagan may not significantly alter the decisions of the Supreme Court, given that she is replacing a Justice who tended to vote with the more liberal wing of the Court.
This view, however, completely discounts any notion that Kagan can convince another Justice to change their stance on a particular issue. Despite the partisan puffery surrounding Kagan, she was not considered "liberal enough" for many Democrats. In fact, some even consider her something of a centrist, which may give her a greater ability to influence the more conservative faction of the Supreme Court.
Some of these issues, however, may hinge upon state v. federal power. Given the overall conservative trend of the Supreme Court, these issues may come out in favor of state rights. At the same time, the Court is charged with interpreting the Constitution, so it will be interesting to see how these issues play out.