Monday, January 4, 2016

How the High Court Could Shake Up the 2016 Campaign

The most in­flu­en­tial justices on the Su­preme Court of­ten say they don’t like the polit­ic­al spot­light. In 2016, there may be no way for them to avoid it.
The Court’s dock­et is pil­ing up with deeply di­vis­ive, overtly polit­ic­al is­sues—set­ting the stage for what could be a series of bomb­shell rul­ings right in the heat of the 2016 cam­paign sea­son.
It won’t be the first time the Court has got­ten tangled up in polit­ics in an elec­tion year—in 2000, it de­cided the out­come of the pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, and in 2012, it de­cided the fate of Pres­id­ent Obama’s health care law in the midst of his reelec­tion cam­paign. But the Court’s cur­rent term, which will likely wrap up in late June, con­tains an un­usu­ally po­tent mix of polit­ic­ally charged cases.
There are sev­er­al ways for the Court to step in­to the polit­ic­al fray. It can rule on the polit­ic­al firestorm of the mo­ment (as it did with Obama­care in 2012). It can take up a well-es­tab­lished tent­pole of the cul­ture wars (like same-sex mar­riage). It can change the rules of elect­or­al polit­ics (a la cam­paign fin­ance re­form), or make life in gen­er­al harder for one side of the polit­ic­al spec­trum.

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