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Wednesday, April 25, 2007 

Who Has the School Cases?

Now that the Court has handed down the partial birth abortion opinion, obsessive Court watchers can turn their attention to another pair of controversial cases: the Parents Involved and Meredith school cases. These cases involve the use of race in assigning students to public schools. Many commentators are predicting that the addition of Justice Alito will make the Roberts Court hostile to these programs.

In my vain (or not so vain since it worked last time) attempt to predict what the Court will do, I'm playing my favorite game: Match the Opinion to the Justice. Let's go over the rules again...
The workloads have been traditionally balanced among the Justices (at least as far as the majorities will allow them to be). Generally, each Justice will get one majority opinion assignment during each sitting.
Unfortunately, the Court is taking its sweet time churning out the opinions, so I don't have much to work with from the November 27th sitting. Here's what I've got so far...
November 27 Sitting

BELL ATLANTIC V. TWOMBLY ???

LEDBETTER V. GOODYEAR ???

WEYERHAEUSER V. ROSS-SIMMONS HARDWOOD LUMBER CO. - Thomas

KSR INT’L V. TELEFLEX - Kennedy

MASSACHUSETTS V. EPA - Stevens

WATTERS V. WACHOVIA BANK - Ginsburg

PARENTS INVOLVED V. SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1 ???

MEREDITH V. JEFFERSON COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION ???

GONZALES V. DUENAS-ALVAREZ ???

ROCKWELL INT’L V. UNITED STATES - Scalia
Not much to go on, I know. I'll be filling in this post as the cases come down. There are some interesting aspects to the list already though. Four of the cases have been assigned. Scalia and Thomas have already written a majority opinion, but so have Stevens and Ginsburg. That leaves Roberts, Kennedy, Souter, Breyer, and Alito. Kennedy has been hostile to these race-based programs in the past. I'm assuming from past statements and oral arguments that Roberts and Alito aren't fans of them either. Souter and Breyer are much more likely to uphold the programs. Just as a matter of the odds, it looks like these programs will be struck down. Of course, that assumes a balanced assignment of the opinions from this sitting.

As I said, I will be filling this post in as the cases come down. When there are important changes, I'll make an update post too. These school cases, along with the abortion decision and the Wisconsin Right to Life campaign finance case will tell us a lot about the future of the Roberts Court.

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