The Supreme Court’s tenure that began last fall spanned several historic turmoils at once: the second peak and conclusion of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 presidential election, and the dramatic aftermath, including an attempt by violent gangs to prevent the outcome from being ratified. . During the class, oral arguments were conducted entirely by telephone, a low-tech option that had the effect of making judges less visually accessible to the audience. Amy Connie Barrett took the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, creating a conservative six-judge majority that seemed to secure losses for liberals for at least a generation. In response to the fierce protest from Democrats at the possibility, President Biden created a committee to study potential court reforms, such as adding more judges to it, and limiting their terms.
But if the expectation was that the country’s political divisions would be reflected in starkly divided decisions, that often did not materialize. The court didn’t even try to decide on the 2020 presidential election, as Donald Trump wanted it, and many feared it. Instead, the justices repeatedly defied expectations, with conservatives and liberals together forming majorities in high-profile cases in order to avoid or delay fighting deeper wars.