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The U.S. Supreme Court plays an essential role in resolving splits that have arisen among lower federal and state courts on questions of federal law. Often, the correct answer in these cases is far from apparent; if the question presented had an easy answer, no lower court division of authority would have occurred. Because the vast bulk of the Supreme Court’s workload consists of cases that present the most difficult and important questions of federal law, it does not come as any great surprise that many of those cases produce sharply divided rulings from the Supreme Court itself.

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