The Supreme Court quietly opened for business Monday morning, still shorthanded 201 days after President Barack Obama nominated a judge to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
With Senate Republicans stalling a confirmation hearing as they hope for a victory by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. led the eight-member court into session for the 2016 term.
The term began without controversy, as the court issued 71 pages of mostly routine orders that included the denial of hundreds of petitions, the disbarment of attorneys and the issuance of some procedural decisions. Underscoring the low-key nature of the day, there were no demonstrators outside prior to the 9:30 a.m. issuance of orders.
Perhaps most prominently, the justices declined to rehear an Obama administration challenge to a lower court’s order blocking the president’s immigration policy from taking effect.
The hourlong oral arguments begin Tuesday at the traditional start time of 10 a.m., with a pair of low-profile cases that include a challenge to a bank fraud conviction by a federal inmate in Southern California.
This is very much a holding-pattern year.
David Cole, Georgetown University Law Center professor
All told, the court has currently agreed to hear about half of the approximately 75 cases that make up a typical term. The docket includes challenges to North Carolina’s drawing of congressional districts, the application of Texas’ death penalty and a lawsuit against banks by the city of Miami alleging discriminatory lending practices.