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Big Cases,Retirement Rumors for SCOTUS 06/24 10:08

   The Supreme Court enters its final week of work before a long summer hiatus 
with action expected on the Trump administration's travel ban and a decision 
due in a separation of church and state case that arises from a Missouri church 
playground.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court enters its final week of work before a 
long summer hiatus with action expected on the Trump administration's travel 
ban and a decision due in a separation of church and state case that arises 
from a Missouri church playground.

   The biggest news of all, though, would be if Justice Anthony Kennedy were to 
use the court's last public session on Monday to announce his retirement.

   To be sure, Kennedy has given no public sign that he will retire this year 
and give President Donald Trump his second high court pick in the first months 
of his administration. Kennedy's departure would allow conservatives to take 
firm control of the court.

   But Kennedy turns 81 next month and has been on the court for nearly 30 
years. Several of his former law clerks have said they think he is 
contemplating stepping down in the next year or so. Kennedy and his clerks were 
gathering over the weekend for a reunion that was pushed up a year and helped 
spark talk he might be leaving the court.

   "Soon we'll know if rumors of Kennedy's retirement are accurate," one former 
Kennedy clerk, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr, said on 
Twitter Friday.

   When the justices take the bench Monday, they are expected to decide the 
case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, which was excluded from 
a state grant program to pay for soft surfaces on playgrounds run by 
not-for-profit groups. The case is being closely watched by advocates of school 
vouchers, who hope the court will make it easier to use state money to pay for 
private, religious schooling in states that now prohibit it.

   Missouri has since changed its policy under Republican Gov. Eric Greitens so 
that churches may now apply for the money.

   Also expected in the next few days, though there's no deadline by which the 
court must decide, is a ruling on whether to allow the administration to 
immediately enforce a 90-day ban on visitors from six mostly Muslim countries.

   Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, could play a 
pivotal role in both the travel ban and church playground cases.

   In all, six cases that were argued between November and April remain 
undecided. Three of those, all involving immigrants or foreigners, were heard 
by an eight-justice court, before Gorsuch joined the bench in April.

   If the eight justices are evenly divided, those cases could be argued a 
second time in the fall, with Gorsuch available to provide the tie-breaking 
vote.


(KA)

 
 
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