Supreme Court moves more slowly than usual

By Jessica Gresko and Mark Sherman
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — One of the animals that appear in the architecture of the Supreme Court is the tortoise, symbolizing that the court moves slowly but surely. This year, the justices are moving a little more slowly than usual. They have released 18 opinions at a point in the year when the number is generally above 20.

So far, two just decisions split the liberal and conservative justices 5-4, with Justice Anthony Kennedy breaking the tie. Conservatives won both times.

In one case, the justices said that car dealerships’ service advisers are not eligible for overtime pay. They held in the other that prisoners who win civil rights lawsuits against their jailers will have to give more of their money to their lawyers.

There will almost certainly be more 5-4 splits over the next three months before the court starts its summer break. It’s not unusual for the first decisions to reflect consensus, if not unanimity. The easier it is to resolve a case, without the back and forth that dueling opinions can occasion, the faster the court can issue a decision.

That likely won’t be the case for disputes over election redistricting, religious objections to civil rights law, regulation of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, sports betting, union fees and President Donald Trump’s travel ban. Spirited dissents are to be expected in those cases, no matter who wins.

The next chance for opinions will be the week of April 16, when the justices begin the last round of arguments until the fall.

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