Opinion | Upcoming U.S. Supreme Court term could mean another year of ‘blockbuster’ media attention
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 01:10
A year ago, Paul Clement (chief litigator on behalf of states during the healthcare case) called last year’s Supreme Court term a “blockbuster” when giving a term preview at the Heritage Foundation.
As the lawyer who holds the record for the most cases argued before the Supreme Court, he was confident in his prediction and his prediction was correct.
The justices had a term that can only rival those when Brown v. Board of Education or Roe v. Wade were announced.
The coverage that was given to the Supreme Court throughout the entirety of the term was unprecedented, and strained the integrity and sanctity of the Court itself.
The justices will likely feel such a stress on the Court this term, which began Monday, but the blockbuster of last term may not see a sequel this year.
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has been known to be a hallowed branch of government, and one that is known for its secrecy and tradition.
What the public saw in the Court’s last term, turned the Court on its head. The case that needs no introduction was the case challenging “Obamacare” (National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius).
This case was said to change the nature of the Court, and be major fodder for the campaigns throughout the summer.
Jeffery Toobin, a leading expert on politics and the Supreme Court, suspended the release of his new book on the Roberts Court and the Obama administration in order to write the healthcare fallout into the end.
While Toobin and other Court pundits masterfully created the hype around the case, the wind was taken out of their sails the day healthcare case was read (Originally read incorrectly by CNN, which is Toobin’s primary outlet) to the public.
Much to the dismay of the press and presidential campaigners, the healthcare case was not about federal powers, but about taxes.
The Court stunned us all with that opinion. From that case, there was a witch-hunt after Chief Justice Roberts at the time, but no such animosity has been felt toward the Chief Justice since mid-June.
The only exception to the lull in Court bashing has been a staunch rebuke by Toobin in his new book, The Oath and several articles in the New Yorker.
Many campaign watchers anticipated that the base of either side would be resurrected by who one case.
James Carville said to CNN in March of 2012: “I think that this will be the best thing that ever happened to the Democratic party because health care costs are gonna escalate unbelievably.”
Once again, the reality is that the case has done nothing for the Republican or Democratic parties.
Such political doldrums that have come upon the parties after the rulings have only contributed to the false hype that has been created by the press around the Court.
Can we expect another blockbuster this term?
The best way to look at this term is like a sequel to a movie.
Too often a sequel is given the same hype and anticipation of the original, but never can live up to the same stature.
SCOTUS’s 2012-2013 term will have its major cases, but none that can match the hype of healthcare or the Arizona immigration case.
As is typical with the Court, the justices decide to hear two major cases that are at the forefront of the national agenda.
This term will have a case concerning affirmative action requirements in public universities (Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin), revisiting the Grutter v. Bollinger case decided in 2003.
The other case the Court will mostly likely hear is the challenge of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Massachusetts v. HHS, Hollingsworth v. Perry, and Windsor v. U.S.).
This case has been waiting in the wings of the Supreme Court for quite some time, and it would appear that the case is now on the doorstep of the justices.
The case itself will have the justices contemplate the level of constitutional scrutiny and protection that shall be afforded to gays and lesbians.
This case will also deal with the challenges being made to Proposition 8 from California that bans gay marriage in all forms.
Supreme Court expert Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog has made predictions on how the Court will interpret both issues within DOMA, and anticipates the Court to accept the case very soon.
By the Court taking up the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases, it could easily turn the Court’s term from The Hangover II into The Godfather Part II.
Media hype that was found around the Court last term is not likely to return this year, and do not expect to see anchors waiting outside the Court this year trying to analyze oral arguments that are only heard by the most avid of a Supreme Court watcher.
While this term may have the constitutional meat that one looks for by the Supreme Court, the justices will take their place again as the forgotten branch of the government that still remains storm center.