High court back to work

The Supreme Court will consider important cases on anti-gay protests at military funerals, violent video games and immigration law during its new term that begins today.

The nine-member high court will open its 2010-11 term with a new member on the bench, Justice Elena Kagan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

Kagan succeeded Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in June. She probably will not change the court’s balance of power, which is widely seen as remaining closely divided with a five-member conservative majority and four liberals.

The conservative Republican appointees are Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Besides Kagan, the Democratic appointees on the left are Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Hispanic who was appointed by Obama last year.

“While the conservative credentials of the Roberts court have been well-established by now, this term may tell us something more about its particular brand of conservatism,” said Steven Shapiro of the American Civil Liberties Union.

He said the term could show whether the current court is more concerned about corporate rights and less concerned about states’ rights than the court under the previous chief justice, the late William Rehnquist.


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