The justices' relationships with one another are a final influence.
They cannot afford to ignore one another and so they arrive at their conference meeting with their minds already made up.
The justices need each other as allies because it takes five votes to decide a case.
One scholar who has looked at the disputes among justices over decisions, and who has evaluated the characterization of the Court as "nine scorpions in a bottle," says that the number of disagreements is not noteworthy.
When a decision is reached, the writing of the opinion is assigned.
The written opinions are important for how the nation will understand the decision.
The opinion will be less authoritative if it is written by the least enthusiastic member of the majority.
The same decision can be portrayed in many different ways, with implications for many future cases.
The opinion-writing task is assigned to the chief justice if he or she is in the majority.
The senior member in the majority gives the opinion.
In order to keep the privilege of assigning the opinion to the justice who would write the weakest version of the majority's conclusion, chief justices vote with a majority they don't agree with.
If the Court changes its mind over time and as its composition changes, these other opinions can have a lasting impact.
The reasons for the about-face can be found in the dissent or the concurrence for the original decision.
The effects of the Supreme Court's decisions are the last area in which we can see it as a political actor.
These decisions, despite the best intentions of those who adhere to the philosophy of judicial restraint, often amount to the creation of public policies as well as acts of Congress.
The Supreme Court has taken an active role in lawmaking at certain points in its history, according to Chapters 5 and 6 on civil liberties and the struggle for equal rights.
The history of the Supreme Court's policymaking role is the history of the United States, and we cannot possibly recount it here, but a few examples should show that rulings of the Court have had the effect of distributing scarce and valued resources among people.
The actions have altered the distribution of power in American society in ways that some would argue should be done by an elected body.
There have been some surprising twists that keep Court-watchers guessing, but in many ways the Roberts Court promises to be the same as before.
In 2010 the Court ruled five to four that campaign finance legislation could not limit the money spent by corporations on electioneering broadcasts because yet understand the full impact of this case, as we will see in Chapter 14.
In 2012 the Court struck down most of Arizona's immigration law and upheld the constitutionality of President Obama's health care bill, but not on grounds that observers had anticipated.
The Court limited the president's ability to make appointments during congressional recess, struck down overall limits by individuals to campaigns, and ruled in a split decision that family-owned corporations do not have to provide health insurance that covers birth control to employees if it offends the owners' religious beliefs.
Same-sex couples have a constitutional right to get married, and they supported an initiative giving citizens the right to take district re-drawing out of the hands of state legislators and give it to an independent commission.
In 2016 the Court upheld a University of Texas affirmative action program and struck down a Texas law limiting abortion, but the eight-person Court split four to four on President Obama's executive action delaying deportation for some immigrants, which left in place the lower court's ruling that struck it down
Although this is not a comprehensive list of Supreme Court cases, it shows that the decisions get right in the thick of determining who gets what and how they get it.
All Americans have a stake in what the Supreme Court does.
The Court is the guardian of American justice and the Constitution and citizens want to believe that.
Presidents want to create a legacy and build political support with respect to their Supreme Court appointments, and they want to place justices on the Court who reflect their political views and judicial philosophy.
Sometimes they want to influence the decisions made by the court.
The Senate wants justices on the Court who reflect their views and the views of their parties.
They are responsive to the interests of the groups that support them.
Confirmation hearings can be very divisive.
Interest groups that want members on the Court to reflect their views can lobby the Senate before and during the confirmation hearings.
The politics of the Supreme Court have a lot at stake for the justices.
They want a manageable workload and rely on their law clerks to follow the rules of the court.
They want to make significant and respected decisions, which means they have to weigh their own criteria carefully.
The Supreme Court's decisions are shaped by institutional rules and political influences.
The legal system and the American courts are central to the maintenance of social order and conflict resolution, and are also a fundamental component of American politics.
The principle of equality before the law is an important component of American political culture.
The principle of equal access to the law is what we commonly take to mean that all citizens should be treated equally.
We look at the questions of equal treatment and equal access in this concluding section.
In Chapter 6, we looked at the issue of equality before the law in a constitutional sense.
Citizens are treated differently by the systems based on their race, income level, and the kinds of crimes they commit.
African Americans and whites have different narratives about the criminal justice system because of experience and because of the power of social media.
When law enforcement violations of civil rights are videotaped, posted in real time, and go viral before the official report has been made, the conventional, pro-law enforcement narratives are harder to maintain, although people's perception of the events is still often divided along racial lines.