Also, three First Amendment cases may break new ground:

  • Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, 06-157: taxpayer standing to bring an establishment clause challenge to a Bush administration “faith-based” program, which may involve reconsideration of the court’s landmark precedent, Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968).
  • FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 06-969: an as-applied challenge to three broadcast ads under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.
  • Morse v. Frederick, 06-278: challenging the constitutionality of a student’s suspension for waving a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner.

And the court’s criminal sentencing revolution continues with a case asking whether a sentence within the range of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines is presumed to be “reasonable.” Rita v. U.S., 06-407.

“In every sense this is still a closely divided court jurisprudentially,” noted Kmiec.

But more important than unanimity to the practicing bar, he added, is a “comprehensive rulebook, clear statements of the law.”

The coming weeks will tell.

Marcia Coyle is a reporter with The National Law Journal, a Recorder affiliate based in New York City.