High-profile cases fill Supreme Court docket

By Ben Conery-The Washington Times

The Supreme Court‘s upcoming term will include the most emotionally charged freedom-of-speech case in recent history along with the usual assortment of high-profile challenges focusing on hot-button issues such as immigration and prosecutorial misconduct.

But the term, which begins Monday, also is notable for what it often will not include, namely new Justice Elena Kagan.

Justice Kagan, who won confirmation this summer to replace retired Justice John Paul Stevens, has said she must step aside for about half the roughly 50 cases the court has so far agreed to hear this term. It is not uncommon for justices to have to step aside when the court hears cases with which they had some previous involvement, but Justice Kagan‘s unusually high number is a result of her previous job as solicitor general.

It is unclear how many more, if any, recusals Justice Kagan will have this term, or how many she will have in subsequent terms, though the number is likely to be lower in ensuing years. With such a large number of recusals, some cases could end in 4-4 ties, which means they would retain a lower court’s ruling.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tried to avoid that scenario by proposing a bill this week that would allow retired Justices Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor and David H. Souter to fill in for such cases.

One of this term’s high-profile cases is a challenge to an Arizona immigration law enacted in 2007. Others involve prosecutorial misconduct in Louisiana, and how far protesters can go in demonstrating at funerals.

In the Arizona case, Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Whiting, a group of seemingly strange bedfellows — business owners, unions and civil libertarians — have challenged a state law requiring employers to access a federal database to ensure job applicants are eligible to work in the U.S. The law also imposes sanctions that could force employers out of business.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/sep/30/high-profile-cases-fill-supreme-court-docket/

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