When the final gavel came down to end the Supreme Court term on Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court press corps scurried to their computers to begin writing stories about a momentous term where the justices took a hard right turn on core issues and liberals found themselves on the losing end of more than a dozen 5-4 opinions.
And then, in a flash, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, and everything changed.
It was likely the last thing the four liberal justices wanted to hear coming out of term where they lost on issues such as the travel ban,voting rights, workplace arbitration, public sector unions and immigration.
Whoever the new justice is will pick up where Kennedy left off almost surely will cast a more conservative vote next term.
Here are five takeaways from another blockbuster session:
The biggest win for the Trump administration came when Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a 5-4 court, said that the President was within his authority when he blocked travel from certain majority Muslim countries.
Roberts said the travel ban fell “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority” under immigration law. And he suggested courts can ignore Trump’s prolific tweets.
“We must consider not only the statements of a particular president,” Roberts said, “but the authority of the presidency itself.”
The four liberal justices dissented, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor issuing a strong retort.
“Our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments,” Sotomayor wrote in a dissent joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Conservatives prevail on unions, voter rights
The court dealt a blow to public sector unions in Janus v. AFSCME. It held that nonmembers could not be required to pay fees that go to collective bargaining.
The opinion will weaken the financial stability of the public sector unions at a time when membership in general is in decline.