With the Court asking for an opinion, the government will be forced to pick a side, which could have a broader policy impact for federal drug enforcement across the nation.
GVRs are increasingly being issued in cases in which there is no intervening Supreme Court opinion that would affect the lower court’s decision, which has occasioned Justice Scalia’s and Justice Thomas’s criticism of the Court’s use of GVRs.
Like many legal debates, this one reflects changing social ideas about what race, structural inequality, and discrimination mean, and how they are best addressed. Answers to those questions won’t come from a judicial opinion. But the Court’s decision here might demystify how states and citizens can talk about race and voting in a legal context.
There aren’t easy answers in this arena. But a good start might be to separate the publishing decision from those who actually write the opinion. Doing so could remove the (real or perceived) incentive to insulate the decision from review.
This case requires that they balance their own notions of judicial integrity and impartiality against the on-the-ground reality of the judicial elections, which they have never experienced. How they evaluate the compelling interest at stake in Florida’s law may do more than tell us about the Court’s vision of the First Amendment; the opinion might also reveal something about the Court’s vision of itself, and about the judicial role in an increasingly political world.
Integrity Staffing Solutions may be a bad decision, but it is “bad” as a matter of results, not as a matter of jurisprudence: the Court did exactly as it was required to do in applying the law and precedent and articulating a rule of decision. We wouldn’t want it to do more. What we do want, and what has become increasingly impossible in the recent partisan gridlock, is for the law to change.
Whatever the Justices are thinking, the fate of Obama’s signature achievement again rests in their hands (though probably not for the last time). Oral argument will likely be heard sometime in March, with a decision expected by late June. In the meantime, Americans that depend on the subsidies for life-saving healthcare will be waiting with bated breath.
Many of the changes to published opinions—the vast majority, in fact—truly are minor grammatical corrections: things like correcting stylistic and typographical errors and misspellings (up to and including the occasional error in spelling a Justice’s name). Lazarus discovered, however, that many of the changes over the Court’s history have been substantive, and might alter the meaning or the reasoning behind the opinion.