I'm no lawyer, but I've read the Constitution. The third branch of government, the US Supreme Court, was founded in our most basic document. While I may not be exactly clear on the exact duties of the Supreme Court, I'm pretty sure that most folks believe that the Supremes should settle basic questions of law. Is this Constitutional? Are our rights protected? That sort of question.
This term is filled with those questions, and from a layman's perspective it appears that the Supremes have punted most of the cases this term. To wit.
The first case we'll look at is the UT discrimination case, where a white girl said she was discriminated against in the way that affirmative action is implemented at the University. The decision? Send it back to the lower courts. It gets a do-over. They did make a decision, they decided to punt. It took seven justices to come up with that decision. Good job, guys.
Next, we move to the Voting Rights Act case. For years, the federal government has had its claws in places where Jim Crow reigns. Places like New York and Alaska. Also places like Texas and Alabama. So, someone filed suit, saying in effect, that those states don't discriminate anymore, and that they should be able to hold elections without the Feds looking over their shoulders. Did the Supremes agree? Not likely. What they did do is decide that the Congress should re-do the formula to decide if states are still beholden to Mr. Crow. They could have easily said, No, Hell NO, you'll continue to be supervised, or they could have told the Fed to butt out of a state's elections. But no, they decided to invalidate a formula. That's a punt.
Now, let's move to the two big cases today. The gay marriage issue. Two cases decided today, the first is the DOMA case, where they opined that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Did they make gay marriage legal? No, they simply said that the Federal Government can't discriminate against couples who are married legally, whether they are same sex or opposite sex. Which leads to all sorts of interesting questions. Still, it's a punt. They could have said that gay marriage is legal everywhere. They didn't. They punted.
Then, we move to the California Proposition 8 case, which is a huge punt. It seems that they declined to hear it on standing, which is a complex legal term that means "You don't have a dog in this hunt." In short, they decided to not decide, which is a decision, I guess, but is also a punt. Four cases, four punts.
Great job, guys. Let Freedom Ring.