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john roberts U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi / ALM

The U.S. Supreme Court’s first 5-4 decision in an argued case this term arrived Wednesday in an unheralded yet intricate statutory interpretation challenge prompting the unusual alignment of two conservative justices with the court’s three liberal members.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined their colleagues on the left to form the majority in the case Salinas v. U.S. Railroad. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the majority opinion in which Manfredo Salinas successfully argued that the board’s refusal to reopen a prior benefits ruling is a “final decision” within the meaning of the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act and subject to judicial review.

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Marcia Coyle

Marcia Coyle, based in Washington, covers the U.S. Supreme Court. Contact her at [email protected]. On Twitter: @MarciaCoyle

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