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The new Supreme Court

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Over the past 32 years – a period that includes the appointment of all current Supreme Court justices – Democrats and Republicans have each occupied the White House for four terms. In six of those eight elections, the Democratic candidate won the popular vote.

These two facts offer a fairly good summary of the political makeup of the country. It’s split fairly evenly between Democratic and Republican voters, with a slight lean towards Democrats.

The Supreme Court, however, now has a very different makeup.

With Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation last night, the Republican-appointed judges hold a 6-3 majority and will likely control the court for years to come. The current six-member majority also happens to be strongly conservative and often quite aggressive, willing to substitute its own judgment for that of Congress, the president, or state governments – on voting rights, campaign finance, health care. health, consumer protection, labor law and more.

How did the Supreme Court get so disconnected from a generation of election results? Circumstances – when the judges are deceased – play a role. But the same goes for the unprecedented decision taken in 2016 by Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate, to refuse to let Barack Obama fill a post.

And so does Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s insistence on staying on the pitch in 2010, when she was in her late ’70s and battling cancer, rather than allowing a president who shared her political views to replace it. Instead, Barrett, who has many opposing views, now occupies the Ginsburg seat.

I know that different people will give different weight to these factors, with many willing to defend the decisions of McConnell or Ginsburg. But no matter how we got here, the country has come to a tricky place.

The Supreme Court has asserted itself in recent years as arguably the most powerful institution in the country, delivering the final say on many of the most controversial issues. At the same time, the court has developed a strong vision that most Americans do not share. This prospect is the result not so much of election results as of political circumstances and tactics.

It is a combination that has the potential to cause widespread voter frustration and ultimately constitutional confrontation. “In America today,” political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt recently wrote in The Times, “the majority do not rule.” They added: “It is the rule of the minority”.

Chief Justice John Roberts, one of six Republican members appointed by the tribunal, appears to be concerned about how this situation could threaten the legitimacy of the tribunal. This helps explain why Roberts voted against his own apparent views in some recent high-profile (but not all) high-profile cases.

Of course, Barrett’s confirmation means Roberts is no longer swing justice. There is a Conservative majority even without Roberts. How daring will he be?

And after: Barrett could start working at court today. Among the first problems she might face, according to The Times’ Adam Liptak, are cases in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, regarding deadlines for mail-in ballots.

The 2020 campaign

  • One morning read: Scientists have discovered new evidence of water and ice on the moon’s surface, a potential resource for future astronauts. “Whenever we don’t need to pack water for our trip, we have the option of taking other useful items with us,” said a NASA scientist.

  • Lives lived: James Randi, known professionally as Amazing Randi, was an award-winning MacArthur “genius” magician. He has dedicated his life to debunking paranormal claims like spoon bending, mind reading, fortune telling, and UFO detection. He died last week at the age of 92.


The Times can help you navigate the election – to separate fact from fiction, make sense of polls, and make sure your ballot counts. To support our efforts, please consider subscribing today.

In American history, only 10 blacks have served as US senators – and never more than three at a time, the current total. This year, however, seven black candidates from the main parties are trying to win Senate races for the first time. Five are Democrats and two are Republicans.

This explosion created the potential for the most racially diverse Senate, but it does not guarantee this outcome. While a few of the seven black nominees are in tight races, none have a clear lead.

Fancy something over the top? Dotted with caramelized onions and crispy Gruyère toast, this French onion mac and cheese is the answer.


Live shopping – a practice in which social media influencers come together live peddling products like cosmetics, clothing, and snacks – has become very popular in China. When Kim Kardashian West appeared on Chinese influencer Viya’s livestream to promote her line last year, she reportedly sold 150,000 bottles of the perfume in seconds.

Now, reports The Verge, tech companies are trying to do live shopping in the United States: Amazon, Instagram, and Facebook have all launched features this summer. “It’s basically like you’re shopping with a friend or someone you really want,” said one expert.


Writer Bryan Washington describes his new book “Memorial” as a gay slacker comedy drama, among other things. It revolves around a young couple: Mike, an American-Japanese man, and Benson, her black boyfriend. After Mike travels to Japan to care for his terminally ill father, Benson stays in Houston with Mike’s visiting mother. Studio A24 has already purchased the television rights to the book.

“In simple, confident prose, Washington deftly records how the forces of loyalty pull the strings of the heart in different directions,” writes Ryu Spaeth in a journal.



The Spelling Bee pangrams of yesterday were carotid and dictator. Today’s puzzle is above – or you can play it online if you have a Games membership.

Here are today’s mini crosswords and a hint: sleep disruptor (five letters).


Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. – David

One clarification: Yesterday’s bulletin said Trump had not released an agenda for his second term. He released a list of items he calls an agenda – like “Create 10 million new jobs in 10 months” – without a description of how he would accomplish them.

PS The Times opens office in Nashville. The head of the founding office will be Rick Rojas, currently an Atlanta correspondent.

You can see the first printed page of the day here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” talks about the shadows of the 2000 election. On the latest “Sway,” Kara Swisher talks to Hillary Clinton.

Lalena Fisher, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can join the team at themorning@nytimes.com.

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