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Supreme Court Will Go Into Session Monday Divided, Short-Handed


The first Monday of October means one thing in the nation's capitol: the beginning of a new session of the U.S. Supreme Court—but the high court remains divided and short-handed. Not since 1968 has the Supreme Court gaveled into session with a vacancy that won't be filled until after the presidential election.

In an opinion column in this morning's Tulsa (Okla.) World, columnist Noah Feldman wrote neither presidential candidate is talking much about the Supreme Court.

"Clinton lacks a signature constitutional issue that would make liberals excited about a progressive majority," Feldman wrote, while "Trump can't credibly promise to be a change agent when it comes to Supreme Court appointments."

While the Supreme Court awaits a ninth justice, cases related to important debates such as voter identification, so-called "religious liberty," immigration and even climate change wait in the wings. Already on the calendar this fall are two appeals from death row inmates and two redistricting cases involving the rights of minority voters.

The remaining justices aren't getting any younger: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (nominated by President Bill Clinton) is 83, Anthony Kennedy (nominated by President Ronald Reagan) is 80 and Stephen Breyer (also nominated by Clinton) is 78.