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The Forum

A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics

Ed. by Disalvo, Daniel / Stonecash, Jeffrey

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The Roberts Court in an Era of Polarized Politics

1Washington State University, Johnson Tower 801, PO Box 644880, Pullman, WA 99164, USA, Tel.: +(509) 335-2427

2Washington State University, Johnson Tower 621, PO Box 644880, Pullman, WA 99164, USA, Tel.: +(509) 335-5260

Corresponding author: Cornell W. Clayton, Washington State University, Johnson Tower 801, PO Box 644880, Pullman, WA 99164, USA, Tel.: +(509) 335-2427

Citation Information: The Forum. Volume 10, Issue 4, Pages 132–146, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, ISSN (Print) 2194-6183, DOI: 10.1515/forum-2013-0015, February 2013

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This essay examines the Roberts Court and its relationship to the Obama administration. It begins by analyzing the ways in which the Court has been structured by electoral politics over the past 40 years, arguing that the Court’s more conservative, divided, and polarized decision-making reflects the politics of the post-1968 electoral regime. It concludes by considering the impact of President Obama’s 2012 reelection, contending that there is little indication that Obama aspires to restructure the courts fundamentally or to push major new constitutional initiatives. Although Obama will undoubtedly have an opportunity to fill at least one seat on the Court in the coming years, he is unlikely to alter its ideological balance, leaving Justice Kennedy as the swing justice. Thus, while liberals can expect isolated judicial victories, Obama’s reelection does not portend an imminent shift in Court decision-making. Only time will tell, however, whether it will have longer-term consequences for American constitutional development.

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