Viewpoints: What a 6-3 Supreme Court majority means

Viewpoints: What a 6-3 Supreme Court majority means

People pay respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building on Wednesday, in Washington, D.C. Ginsburg, 87, died of cancer on Sept. 18. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press) By Morgan Marietta / For The Conversation If the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is replaced this year, the Supreme Court will become something the country has not seen since the justices became a dominant force in American cultural life after World War II: a decidedly conservative court. A court with a 6-3 conservative majority would be a dramatic shift from the court of recent years, which was more closely divided, with Ginsburg as the leader of the liberal wing of four justices and Chief Justice John Roberts as the frequent swing vote. As a scholar of the court and the politics of belief, I see three things likely to change in an era of a conservative majority: The court will accept a broader range of controversial cases for consideration; the court’s interpretation of constitutional rights will shift; and the future of rights in the era of a conservative court may be in the hands of local democracy rather than the Supreme Court. A broader docket: The court takes only cases the justices choose to hear. Five votes on the nine-member court make a majority, but four is the number required to take a case. If Roberts does not want to accept a controversial […]

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