A steady term for 6-3 bench gives way to divisions

Katie R. Ochoa

WASHINGTON – For months, the Supreme Court appeared to rise above partisan strife – becoming a place where rancor could be quieted by compromise. But as is often the case at the nation’s highest court, the justices saved their fireworks for the end.

With a string of unanimous or near-unanimous decisions, often decided on narrow grounds, the court’s nine-month term that wrapped up last week initially upended expectations about how its new 6-3 conservative majority would handle pressing disputes about religious freedom, the Fourth Amendment and the Affordable Care Act.

Then, in its final two opinions, the court’s six conservatives held together against its three liberals to impose curbs on the 1965 Voting Rights Act when voting access has become a political flashpoint and opened a debate about whether campaign disclosure requirements could be subjected to legal challenges.

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