As SCOTUS nears end of term, unpredictable decisions contradict Dems’ warnings

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The Supreme Court will release its final two decisions of the term Thursday morning, and if the hot-button political issues involved are each determined by a 6-3 split between the conservative majority and the liberal minority on the court, those would be rare exceptions to how the court’s recent cases have been decided.

Out of 32 cases already decided by the court between the months of May and June, just three have been the result of 6-3 votes along so-called ideological lines. Far more common have been unanimous rulings, of which there have been 12 in that same stretch of time. That trend flies in the face of long-held accusations from Democratic leaders that a Supreme Court comprised mostly of conservative jurists who were appointed by Republicans would simply be a tool for carrying out a right-wing agenda.

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“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” a group of Democratic senators wrote in a brief they filed with the high court in August 2019 in which they claimed the court had been politicized. At the time conservatives held a 5-4 majority which grew with the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

The idea of the court being used politically featured heavily during Barrett’s confirmation process, with Democrats insisting that with a case involving the Affordable Care Act set to be heard soon after her confirmation, the law known as ObamaCare, was certainly about to see its end. 

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In reality, ObamaCare survived via a 7-2 decision with Barrett joining those who voted in the law’s favor.

Likewise, a 9-0 decision in favor of a Philadelphia Catholic foster care service that does not certify same-sex couples showed that liberal justices can take a side that might normally be associated with conservatives.

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Thursday’s cases will have political implications by their respective natures, as one centers on whether California can force nonprofits to give the state the names of donors and the other deals with Arizona’s election rules. Even if both are decided by a 6-3 conservative majority, however, rulings in recent months have shown that the outcomes are not as predictable as Democrats previously warned.


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