Laws relating to religion
Impact of appointments on the
balance of the U.S. Supreme Court
The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are deeply divided in their
rulings on religious,
cultural, and moral cases. Many, perhaps most, decisions in these areas are
by a split vote of 5 to 4. The division in the court mirrors the gulf seen in
the rest of American
culture, religion, and government. Any change in the delicate ratio of conservative to liberal justices would have a profound effect on the decisions
of the Supreme Court, and on the future of the
U.S. law and culture.
This concern became widespread when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a moderate
conservative and a swing voter, decided in mid-2005 to retire from the Court. In
2005-SEP, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, a conservative and strict
Two conservative strict constructionists -- John G. Roberts, and Samuel Alito
-- replaced Justice O'Connor and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, thus
shifting the court slightly to the right.
During 2009-APR, Justice David Souter, one of the four liberal judges on the
court, announced his intention to retire. President Obama has nominated
Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his replacement.
President Obama is expected to nominate one or two additional Justices during
his current term.
Topics covered in this section:
Amazon.com lists the following books about the Supreme Court
If a generic graphic appears below, please click on your browser's refresh key to see a group of books.
- "Harriet Miers," Wikipedia, 2005-OCT-03, at:
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Latest update: 2009-JUL-16
Author: B.A. Robinson