U.S. Supreme Court

A clear majority of justices at the U.S. Supreme Court seemed troubled Wednesday by a Missouri grant program that bars state money from going to religious schools for playground improvement.

Thirty-nine states have state constitutional provisions that bar taxpayer funds from going to religious schools — provisions that have been a major obstacle for the school choice movement. The Missouri case is an attempt to lower that wall separating church and state.

Thursday is the day the judicial filibuster in the Senate is scheduled to die. There hasn't been much of an effort to save it, but there have been a lot of lamentations for the slow demise of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body (WGDB), otherwise known as the U.S. Senate.

Here are five insights into what the death of the judicial filibuster means:

1. The winners and losers

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET.

Forty-one Democratic senators have now publicly announced that they will vote against ending debate this week on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. That means Republicans cannot at this time clear the 60-vote threshold needed to proceed to an up-or-down vote on the nomination. It also sets up an historic vote to end the Senate's filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees.

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Judge Neil Gorsuch has been grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than 18 hours of questioning over two separate days, and the proceedings are not finished yet. On Thursday, the committee hears testimony from witnesses about Gorsuch's qualifications to be a justice of the US Supreme Court.

Today is the 4th and — what is scheduled to be — final day of the confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch. Testifying about the Supreme Court nominee will be experts and outside groups. Gorsuch himself will not be taking questions, or in the hearing room.

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Judge Neal Gorsuch, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, begins his three-day confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Republicans have praised the federal appeals court judge as a brilliant jurist who would continue in the conservative mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who he's vying to succeed. His nomination also fulfilled a key campaign promise for Trump, who helped woo wary Republicans with his pledge to nominate a conservative justice.

Editors' note Monday, 12:55 p.m. ET: Since this story was first published, we have added material from another former student and former law clerks of Gorsuch, as well as more information about Jennifer Sisk's political affiliations. On Tuesday, Gorsuch disputed the allegation himself during his confirmation hearing and explained the lesson he intended to teach.

In a reversal, the Supreme Court will not decide Gavin Grimm's lawsuit over a school policy that requires students to use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex. The court was scheduled to hear the case this month.

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With security at the U.S.-Mexico border at the center of a seething controversy, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court seemed torn at oral arguments on Tuesday — torn between their sense of justice and legal rules that until now have protected U.S. Border Patrol agents from liability in cross-border shootings.

The cellphone video is vivid. A Border Patrol agent aims his gun at an unarmed 15-year-old some 60 feet away, across the border with Mexico, and shoots him dead.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a case testing whether the family of the dead boy can sue the agent for damages in the U.S.

Between 2005 and 2013, there were 42 such cross-border shootings, a dramatic increase over earlier times.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

President Trump started the day by blasting a Democratic senator who revealed criticism of Trump from his nominee to the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Judge Neil Gorsuch told Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal that he found President Trump's recent attacks on judges to be "demoralizing" and "disheartening." Gorsuch made the comments during a private meeting, and a member of the Supreme Court nomination team escorting Gorsuch through the get-acquainted meetings also confirmed the remarks to NPR's Tamara Keith.

President Trump says he plans to announce his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court next week.

The Trump administration has begun to float specific names for the high court's vacancy. The consensus seems to be that among the finalists on Trump's shortlist are Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the federal appeals court based in Denver; Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama, who served on the federal appeals court based in Atlanta; and Judge Thomas Hardiman of Pittsburgh, who serves on the 3rd Circuit Federal Court of Appeals.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday in a dispute that advocates describe as the most important case involving public school special education in three decades.

At issue is whether federal law requires public schools to provide more than the bare minimum in special services for children with disabilities. With millions of children qualifying for these services, the court's ruling could have a profound effect.

On Jan. 20, 2016, exactly a year before a new president would be sworn into office, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia announced the court's 8-to-1 decision reinstating the death penalty for two Kansas brothers.

It was the last time the 79-year-old Scalia would announce an opinion. Three weeks later, on a hunting trip in Texas, the conservative icon died in his sleep.

The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear over the past quarter century that racial gerrymandering is an unconstitutional no-no, but partisan gerrymandering is still permissible. The question is: How do you tell the difference? Especially when the Voting Rights Act allows for some consideration of race to ensure minority representation, and when party affiliation often correlates with race.

In cases from Virginia and North Carolina, the Supreme Court seemed unsure on Monday how to balance these mandates.

The U.S. Supreme Court takes up important immigration questions Wednesday, even as President-elect Donald Trump talks of pushing for more deportations. The legal issue before the court tests whether people who are detained for more than six months have a right to a bond hearing.

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The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear a case regarding transgender students' right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

The justices will hear the case sometime next year.

At issue is whether a Virginia high school student is allowed to use the boys' bathroom. NPR's Nina Totenberg reports:

Steve Petteway / Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Twenty-five years ago this month, the nation watched as a federal judge from Savannah, Georgia named Clarence Thomas went through a grueling confirmation hearing to the U.S. Supreme Court. The hearing became a media circus after a young law professor named Anita Hill was called into testify. The nation watched in disbelief as Hill described in graphic detail her allegations of unwanted sexual advances by Thomas.

It's only the second week of oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court and already the justices are on their third case involving race and the criminal justice system.

Tuesday's case tests the constitutionality of widespread rules that bar courts from examining evidence of racial bias in jury deliberations.

The Supreme Court gets down to work on Tuesday, hearing the first arguments of a new term.

Technically, the court term began on the traditional first Monday in October, but because it fell on the same day as the Jewish New Year, the court's three Jewish justices were absent and the remaining justices conducted only administrative business.

It's been nearly eight months since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly, leaving the nation's highest court short-handed, and evenly divided on some of the most important legal issues of the day.

While Democrats had expected to exploit GOP stonewalling on a replacement, Republicans have played the issue shrewdly.

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The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law Monday which would have made it more difficult for women to receive abortions in that state. While the decision is a victory for pro-choice advocates, various challenges still exist for women seeking abortions. 

University of Georgia

The U.S. Supreme Court handed supporters of affirmative action a major victory on Thursday. In a 4-to-3 ruling, the justices rejected a complaint against the race-conscious admissions program at the University of Texas at Austin. Georgia State University professor Tanya Washington explains what the ruling means for schools in Georgia.