Supremes will be back in news
It's another full docket for the nation's highest court.
The U.S. Supreme Court doesn't seek controversy — it's the other way around.
Last spring, the nation's highest court roiled the political waters with a 5-4 vote upholding the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation.
It was a controversial decision, to say the least, but just the latest in a long line of court declarations going back to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.
Well, get ready. It's starting all over again, although it's highly unlikely that the cases the court is just beginning to hear will be decided for several months.
But the agenda is at least partially set, and the issues include the legitimacy of racial quotas and affirmative action at the University of Texas, same-sex marriage, employment discrimination, search-and-seizure issues involving drug-sniffing dogs, and government surveillance of international phone calls and Internet communications.
The list goes on, and much of it isn't nearly as exciting or far-reaching as the high court's Obamacare decision.
Indeed, some issues are so technical as to be almost incomprehensible to the layman.
Last week, the high court heard oral arguments in a case involving the government periodically flooding private property. Does that constitute an unlawful taking of property under the U.S. Constitution for which the property owner should be compensated?
Sometimes the cases involve arguments about whether there really is an issue for the high court to resolve.
Last week's arguments included a jurisdictional dispute involving whether residents of foreign countries can sue foreign businesses in American courts for alleged harm committed on foreign soil. It involves an interpretation of the Alien Tort Statute passed in 1789 that allows foreigners to sue in U.S. courts for violations of international law. But does that allow lawsuits for alleged wrongs perpetrated outside the country?
Homosexual marriage is on the agenda in two disputes — one state and one federal.
The citizens of California passed a constitutional amendment that limited marriage to one man and one woman, but it was struck down by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, but it's also under challenge. Some have speculated the court may use these two cases as a vehicle to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states.
Based on these kinds of cases, it's fair to conclude that the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court spend most of their time jumping from the frying pan into the fire and then back again. But that's the way it's got to be in our system of government.
One of three separate and equal branches of government, the judiciary's job is to interpret the law. The buck stops with the justices, and that's why their decisions often cause such angst.