Thursday morning is taking on Armageddon dimensions as the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s healthcare ruling. But the final days of Supreme Court terms nearly always promise drama as well as a fair amount of sorrow and jubilation, depending on your viewpoint.
While all eyes and ears will be awaiting Chief Justice John Roberts’ announcement of which justice (perhaps himself) has the decision in the healthcare case, pity the poor advocates in First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards — the oldest pending case — and likely to be the most over-looked decision of a term’s final day in modern history.
Will the ruling on the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act make the front page or nightly news? Don’t hold your breath.
Final term days in the Roberts Court have provided landmark decisions and dramatic announcements from the bench. Here’s a quick trip down memory lane of the biggest decisions that came on the final day in the Roberts Court’s last six terms.
• June 28, 2012: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services v. Florida. The Court’s decision in the health care case could be one of its most important in decades. The justices held three days of argument in the case in March, and could overturn the centerpiece legislation of the Obama presidency.
• Jun 27, 2011: Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett. In a 5-4 decision, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, the high court struck down Arizona’s campaign matching funds scheme, saying that it violates the First Amendment because it “substantially burdens” political speech not only by privately financed candidates but also by independent expenditure groups. Also on that day, Justice Antonin Scalia led a 7-2 majority in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association striking down California’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.
• June 28, 2010: McDonald v. Chicago. In a 5-4 decision by Justice Samuel Alito, the Court, in a major win for gun rights advocates, applied the Second Amendment to the states.
• June 29, 2009: Ricci v. DeStefano. In a 5-4 decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court held that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions due to their race. The court said employers must have a “strong basis in evidence” to believe they will face disparate-impact liability if they fail to take race-conscious, discriminatory action.
• June 26, 2008: District of Columbia v. Heller. Another 5-4 decision and another win for gun rights advocates. This landmark decision by Justice Antonin Scalia found that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess a gun in the home.
• June 28, 2007: Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. Roberts authored this 5-4 decision invalidating school diversity plans in Seattle, Washington, and Louisville, Kentucky.
• June 29, 2006: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. This 5-3 decision by Justice John Paul Stevens struck down the military tribunal system for Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Marcia Coyle can be contacted at email@example.com.