Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky reviews Supreme Court termJuly 26, 2017
Before a capacity crowd at our summer lecture on July 25, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of Berkeley Law noted that the Supreme Court’s most recent term was unique. Two reasons that he cited come easily to mind: It was the “Term of 8,” he said, with a jurist missing most of the period; and there was a first-ever filibuster during Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation process.
Chemerinsky also noted Justice Anthony Kennedy’s position as fulcrum (siding with the majority in 93 percent of non-unanimous rulings). And he said Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, as well as Kennedy, all are past the average age of retirement for Supreme Court jurists.
“What we’ve seen in the last seven months is unprecedented in American history,” he said by way of introduction.
Throughout this term, Chemerinsky said, the court deliberately steered away from topics that are typically controversial. He divided the term’s most significant rulings into five areas: criminal procedure, constitutional rights, civil rights, federal jurisdiction and procedure, and President Donald J. Trump’s travel ban.
Chemerinsky noted that one of the Court’s highest-profile actions — its ruling that anyone with a documented, formal relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. is not subject to the ban — wasn’t even briefed or argued.