The Roberts Court after Five Terms * Justice Stevens Retires * Enter Justice Kagan * First Amendment—Campaign Finance * First Amendment—Religion * Other First Amendment Issues * Second Amendment * Miranda Warnings * Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel * Eighth Amendment—Life Sentences for Juveniles * Other Criminal Procedure Cases * Decisions Affecting Business * Other Cases of Note * Gay Marriage * Preview of the October 2010 Term * Recent Books
The October 2009 Term marked the fifth year in which John Roberts has served as Chief Justice, and the indications are that it is not only one of the most conservative courts in the last sixty years, but also one of the most activist. At his confirmation hearings Roberts had said that he believed that a justice was like an umpire in a baseball game, calling balls and strikes by set rules. What numerous commentators have pointed out is that the umpire also determines the strike zone, and the Roberts Court has seen that zone—and its allowable activities—as quite large.
The end of the Term also marked the departure of John Paul Stevens, who had served on the Court since December 1975, one of the nation's longest-serving justices, giving President Barack Obama his second high court appointment in two years. To fill the seat once held by Louis Brandeis and William O. Douglas, the president chose Solicitor General Elena Kagan, giving the Court for the first time three female members.