Culture&Arts

US Supreme Court set to rule on religious rights

US Supreme Court set to rule on religious rights

With today's Supreme Court order, the travel ban will remain on hold for plaintiffs who challenged the executive order and for anyone who is "similarly situated", the justices say - in other words, foreign nationals who have relatives in the USA, or who plan to attend school or work here.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, the man who so often determines the outcome of the most controversial Supreme Court cases, is himself the center of brewing speculation.

Another nominee, Damien Schiff, nominated to the Court of Federal Claims, used a different blog to denounce anti-bullying efforts for "teaching "gayness" in public schools", and criticize the court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas - that's your ruling, Justice Kennedy - striking down state laws criminalizing homosexual sodomy.

Retirement announcements do tend to come last day of the term, Reid says, but with Kennedy, you never know what he is going to do.

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The original ban, put in place shortly after Trump's inauguration, barred everyone from seven countries from entering the US even if they had green cards, valid visas or refugee status. Two federal appeals courts left those nationwide injunctions in place, setting up one final appeal for the Trump administration.

In terms of a replacement, Kennedy might take comfort in the list of 20 judges Trump has vowed to draw from when considering the next vacancy on the court.

And if Kennedy waits another year, his replacement could face confirmation hearings during the 2018 midterms, nearly ensuring politics would get involved in a system that's supposed to be outside of politics.

In other words, the political and ideological balance of the court didn't significantly change by Gorsuch's addition and Scalia's subtraction.

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However, sometimes Kennedy voted with the four conservatives on the bench. With President Trump under investigation by the special counsel and his approval rating mired below 40 percent, his incentive may be to cater to his base with a pick as far to the right as possible, an instinct enabled by the Republicans' move, during the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch, to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. Grassley didn't name names at the time, and there is no sign that he had any inside information about Kennedy or any other member of the high court. Just consider the president's tweets about judicial rulings in the case that has now reached your own court.

The Trump administration placed former Kennedy clerks in prominent posts throughout the Department of Justice.

A Kennedy retirement, of course, could have a significant impact on the Court for some time to come. It would also mean that the court's conservative wing would likely be considerably younger than the liberal bloc ― while justices Alito, Roberts, Gorsuch, and Thomas are all still under 70, justices Ginsburg and Breyer are 84 and 78, respectively. He wrote the majority opinion in Obergefell v Hodges, the 2015 ruling which made same-sex marriage the law of the land. It ruled on statutory rather than constitutional grounds, saying Mr. Trump had exceeded the authority granted him by Congress.

According to multiple reports, people close to Kennedy have said they believe the 80-year-old justice is considering stepping down soon.

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In the end, of course, all of this is just speculation until someone announces something.