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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hand over the liberal torch: NPR



Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan took over several of the written writings for the Court's liberal this last term. Above, Kagan testifies to the court's budget on Capitol Hill.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images


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Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Kagan took over several of the writings written for the court's liberal this last term. Above, Kagan testifies to the court's budget on Capitol Hill.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

This past term, the Supreme Court decided on cases dealing with thorny issues such as a citizenship issue of American census, political renunciation, and separation of church and state.

Here are six takeaways from what happened, including a look forward to what comes next term:

1. Chief Justice John Roberts is now swing vote.

Finally, Roberts has a conservative majority of five right to march the Supreme Court to the right. But it is sometimes at war with its desire to protect the institutional integrity of the court and its non-partisan image.

Indeed, Roberts rarely differs from conservative positions. But when he does, it's a big difference. All of this played out in the last two decisions of the term. Both are written by Roberts, but in one, he sits with the Conservative Court and on the other with the Liberals of the Court.

In the extreme partisan gerrymandering case, Roberts, who joined Conservatives, pleaded for the idea that the courts should intervene in extreme cases to prevent politicians in drawing legislative areas to anchor their own political power. Until this year, Roberts did not have a fifth vote to reach that conclusion because Justice Anthony Kennedy was open to courts polishing a practice he saw as a threat to democratic rule. But with Kennedy's retirement and the appointment of the far more conservative justice Brett Kavanaugh raised the court right on this issue, with Roberts leading the charge.