Big week ahead for high court

One of many cool things about the Internet Age is that public affairs programs that air on TV can be stored seemingly forever online. If you miss watching it on “The Tube,” just call it up on your computer and get caught up.

Gwen Ifill is host of PBS’s Washington Week in Review. On KACV-TV this past Friday, she previewed the week ahead for the U.S. Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hand out some key decisions.

As Ifill notes in her blog, the court could decide some things that will change the lives of millions of Americans.

It’s scheduled to hand down decisions this week on the Defense of Marriage Act, on California’s Proposition 8 outlawing same-sex marriage, the Voting Rights Act and on a case involving affirmative action admission policies at the University of Texas.

The sharply divided court may split along ideological lines — liberal vs. conservative — on all these cases. Then again, one never knows how a judge appointed to a lifetime job with no possibility of forced removal is going to rule on any case, no matter how controversial.

DOMA and Prop 8 have been getting the most attention. DOMA is the federal statute signed into law in 1996 by President Clinton that establishes marriage as being between a man and a woman. Foes of DOMA argue that it violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause. The fight has been fierce. Same for Prop 8, approved in California. It bans same-sex marriage. Foes of that measure argue the same points as they do against DOMA.

The UT case may decide whether a university can establish separate sets of standards for minority students than it does for others seeking entrance into a school. And a provision of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark bill signed into law in 1965, is under scrutiny; many civil rights advocates fear that the court may water it down too dramatically.

It’s a big week, indeed, for Supreme Court watchers. Even if you’re not dialed in to every ruling the court hands out, you well might want to pay attention to what’s about to come from the justices.


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