American Pharoah’s stretch run in the Belmont Stakes was a beauty to behold. The Supreme Court’s stretch run in the closing weeks of its term? Not so much.
I can’t remember a second week in June during which the justices delivered only one opinion. This was Monday’s decision upholding the president’s prerogative in the Jerusalem passport case, Zivotofsky v. Kerry, issued more than seven months after the argument. At that pace, it would be Thanksgiving before the court issued its decision in the same-sex marriage cases that it heard at the end of April. But that won’t happen; one way or another, with 20 cases left to decide, the court will wrap up its term before the Fourth of July.
The justices’ silence doesn’t mean indolence, of course; a great deal is happening below the surface and behind closed doors. For example, it’s obvious that there is a struggle going on over whether the court should revisit Fisher v. University of Texas, which affirmative-action opponents have dragged back onto the court’s docket for another try at using this thoroughly moot case as a battering ram against considering race as a factor in college admissions. On Thursday the case goes to the justices’ closed-door conference for a fourth week. If the justices eventually deny the appeal, or even if they decide to hear it, we may never know what arguments were on the table during those weeks.