Supreme Court term found Trump's justices, and others, forming unpredictable alliances

NBC News | 6/30/2019 | Staff
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WASHINGTON — Although the Supreme Court split between conservative and liberal justices in one of its most high-profile cases — a 5-4 ruling that said federal judges could not referee disputes over partisan gerrymandering — the court's just-ended term was notable for a series of unusual lineups.

The court divided along the typical ideological lines only seven times, with justices appointed by Republican presidents on one side and those appointed by Democrats on the other. After the bruising hearing for the court's newest member, President Donald Trump's nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the court seemed determined to keep a low profile and to avoid being perceived as a partisan body.

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Kavanaugh turned out to be the justice most often in the majority. He joined with the court's liberals in allowing iPhone customers to sue Apple over pricing in the App Store, and in blocking the execution of a Texas death-row inmate after the state refused to let him have his Buddhist priest in the lethal injection chamber.

Kavanaugh was in the majority in 91 percent of the term's decisions in which he participated, slightly more than Chief Justice John Roberts. Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's other appointee, and Justice Clarence Thomas were least often in the majority.

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Roberts, however, voted more often, because Kavanaugh did not take part in cases that he heard previously as a judge on the federal Court of Appeals in Washington.

The two Trump justices were on opposite sides in almost half of the opinions that were not unanimous, including rulings in which the high court found that separate prosecutions for the same offense in state and federal court do not violate the protection against double jeopardy, tossed out a lawsuit over political boundaries for the state legislature, and narrowed the grounds for prosecuting some federal crimes.

December - Court

They also split in December when the court...
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