A Changed Court Faces Key Decisions In 2009-10
October 5, 2009
by NINA TOTENBERG
Sonia Sotomayor is not expected to dramatically shift the tone of a bench that includes, clockwise from top, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts.
Campaign finance; gun rights; animal cruelty; separation of church and state; life terms for juveniles — these are just a few of the issues before the Supreme Court as the justices officially open a new term Monday.
Not only are some of the issues new — so is Justice Sonia Sotomayor, now in the seat occupied for 19 years by retired Justice David Souter.
For the 11 years between 1994 and 2005, the composition of the Supreme Court remained unchanged. And now, within the space of four years, there have been three changes.
It may be that President Bush’s most long-lasting legacy will be his appointment of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. They have tipped the court in a dramatically more conservative direction.
The Court Begins A New Era