Supreme Court 2010-2011 Term Highlights

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Prepared by Esther Choi. Edited by Laura Ford.

The Supreme Court's 2010-2011 Term arguably marks the beginning of a new Court. As the first term for Justice Kagan, the second for Justice Sotomayor, and only the sixth for Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts, this 2010-2011 Term may indicate jurisprudential positions and dynamics between the Justices that will give the Court a new character going forward. Justice Kagan's impassioned dissent in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn (09-987) may indicate her intention to play a significant role in Establishment Clause jurisprudence. And Justice Sotomayor's independent stances in a number of cases indicate the possibility of her emergence as an important swing voter in the Court. Of course, all speculation about the future is dangerous; nevertheless, it seems clear that a new institutional personality is emerging within the Court.

In what follows, we offer sketches of the facts and arguments involved in a selection of cases from this Term. Since limitations of space and time have prevented us from covering all the cases decided by the Court, we are only able to offer a sample of cases that seem particularly important. We have endeavored to select cases that are significant from doctrinal and public policy perspectives, and to represent the range of decisions issuing from the Court. First Amendment issues seemed particularly dominant this Term, and we have focused particularly on those cases in our treatment. In addition to a number of important Constitutional cases, we have also selected cases that seem to be of particular economic and social significance. In the areas of bankruptcy, securities law, patent law, and credit regulation, as in the area of labor law, the Court has settled important questions, and, as always, opened up new questions for debate.